Sunday, December 05, 2010

Sunday Snap: How I Was Almost Killed By Marauding Cattle on a Trail Run

All's Well That Ends Well, at least that's what the Bard tells us. It was true for today's trail run, I did in fact make it to the top of the mountain on a day when a break in the weather gave me spectacular views all the way around.  Unfortunately, I couldn't lug my big beautiful camera around with me, so for today's Sunday Snap you'll have to be content with what I took on my cell phone. You can get a little taste of the dramatic sky and view however, just from this photo I shot at the top.

 However, here's what I had to slog through to get there! Background: I've been tossing around the idea of signing up for the "Mt. Pisgah Frozen Trail Run Fest" in two weeks. Doesn't that sound appealing in mid-December? The run I'm thinking of entering is "only" 14.6 miles, a decent distance for my first official trail running entry. I was thinking it would take me somewhere around three hours, since I've been timing my trail runs and found I'm averaging about 12:00 miles on anything with significant elevation gain. After today's "dry run" (note to self: there was nothing "dry" about this run) on the trails in question, I am revising my finish time estimate to closer to four hours or more. The trails aren't frozen, they're foot-deep mud bogs! It took me 37 minutes to go the first 1.4 miles. No, that is not a typo.

Even worse, after slogging uphill through these slimy slidy mud-slushees, I smelled the distinct aroma of cow manure. It actually smelled like I was running through a cattle wallow instead of just a trail-turned creek in the wintery rains. So it was no great surprise when we rounded the next corner and my dog Sophie surprised a..... Cow! I took this photo and then realized that there was more than one cow. Lots of them in fact. I was running right through their stomping grounds. A scenario flashed through my head almost as gruesome as the night I was almost arrested in my underwear: Being stomped to death on an obscure trail on the side of the mountain by a herd of cows, and being discovered face-down in a bog of cow manure several months later by some hunters (notice that it's always hunters who discover people like this?). This is when I begin to be grateful that my dog is the Best Dog in the Universe. One stern command: "Sophie! No Chase!" and she mercifully did NOT stamped the entire herd of cattle right over the top of me. It was close though. I had a moment of real panic there. That's okay, I'm rusty on panic.

After that, I turned back to the main trail and headed for the top of the mountain, an uneventful if challenging climb to those gorgeous late-afternoon views out over fog-shrouded valleys.

And so for today's Sunday Snap, I'll leave you with a photo that was not taken by my cell phone today, but one that I took from this same trail with my real camera on a New Year's Day hike last year. It's one of my all-time favorite black-and-whites.

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