Tuesday, January 16, 2007

High Tailing It



I'm traveling on business in the San Jose area. I was at the mercy of my bosses scheduling so I did not know where I would be staying making it difficult to plan my runs. Last night when I discovered that we would be staying in Newark CA. I quickly went on line and searched mapquest for trails or parks in the area. I found Coyote Hills Regional Park was just 1.5 miles from our Hotel.

I started my run in the dark at 6:00 AM. The sky was clear and the temperature was hovering at 28-30 degrees. When I made it to the park I was surprised at the immediate transition from business centers and manufacturing to a very remote landscape filled with ponds and wildlife. About a mile and a half into the park entrance I came to a parking lot that split off into some gravel roads and trails. I ran up a gravel road and turned up another called Hoot Holler. I didn't go too far when I came to the end of the road and as I stopped to turn around I was serenaded by a great horned owl sitting in a tree. Another owl in a distant tree answered back. I listened to a couple of more exchanges between the owls and then headed back down to gravel road I had turned off of and continued into the park.

I turned on a dirt trail to my right and started heading up to the top of one of the hills for a view. It was still quite dark out but with my headlamp I could see some eyes and a dark spot in the middle of the trail. I slowed down and then came to a stop about 25 feet from two very large skunks. They ended up walking away from me side by side with their tails up in the air as I continued in the same direction. These were "super sized" skunks and I swear that their tails were three feet up in the air. After thinking about it I decided my customers would probably rather not meet me smelling like skunk spray so I stopped. The skunks stopped as soon as I did and then started wrestling around like a couple of puppies. They were growling at each other and bopping around tumbling down the hill toward me as they played like I was non-existent. I turned around and "high tailed" it.

I circled around the hill and found myself running the hillside along San Fransisco Bay. The sun was just coming up creating an orange sky on the eastern horizon. The Bay was teaming with water foul with what looked like Snowy Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Sandpipers, and some smaller Herons. My only other running partners on this run were a couple of Jack Rabbits that couldn't decide where to turn off the trail after I scared them so they just ran along in front of me for a few hundred yards before turning off trail. My Garmin beeped 5 miles so I turned around and backtracked back to my Hotel for a nice 10 mile run.

I expect to head back to Coyote Hills again in the morning. I'm finally feeling strong again after a fairly long recovery from the FAT ASS Tiger MT. 50K. This gives me confidence for this coming weekends Capital City FAT ASS 50K.

Happy Running!

Eric

16 comments:

mtnrunR said...

Nice picture Eric.

Hey, I ran behind a skunk at States just before Hwy 49. Ronda did too. And if you read race reports, Twiet was slowed by about ten minutes one year because they wouldn't get off the trail even after he threw some rocks to make them move.

Oh, I saw two bear cubs on the climb up Devil's Thumb also just 50 feet or so off the trail. No momma bear and I wasn't sticking around to find out wear she was. Kinda made the 1700',36 switchback climb a little quicker I think.

Thomas said...

It's always great to discover new running routes in new places, isn't it? That park sounds lovely.

Backofpack said...

That sounds like a great place to run! I find it amazing that you can go wander around a new place like that and then find your way back to the hotel. Mad skills! Have a good run this morning - I'm off to the Y to avoid slippery streets.

robtherunner said...

Sounds like a pretty cool run. I think I would have avoided the skunks as well, but maybe you would have been excused from work for the day if yu would have been skunk sprayed. Just a thought.

Wes said...

LOL. That is very very cool. So you ran with your tail in the air, like the skunks, instead of between your legs! Now that's pride!!

Annette said...

Yikes! I've run across skunks before, too. I think it's one of the scarier moments. It wouldn't kill you, but I can't imagine trying to get rid of that smell. Sounds like an interesting place to run. Just watch out for some of that wildlife!

olga said...

Amazing place, lucky you! AQnd the picture is great (and no, I don't want to be present in it:))
Nice run!

Ryan said...

Crazy critters Batman…funny just a couple skunks having some fun or as my daughter calls them “snuks”....it's always fun to explore new trails, plus it’s great way to site-see. Good Ultra Karma for volunteering at Bridal Trails, I need to completed 8 hours of volunteer service for the VT 100 at some point and we don’t that many options here in New England. Have a nice day!

Sarah said...

A friend has a skunk living under her back porch. I think if you don't bother them, they won't bother you. But I would've scrammed too! Cool that you were able to find natural peace so close to the industrial park.

matt said...

Hi Eric,

I am sorry that I didn't run across your blog sooner. I have been exchanging comments and advice with Michelle and Rob for awhile now, but didn't realize that you had a blog, too.

All of these FA races that you guys are doing in the snow look like a lot of fun. How many 50K events do you have access to you in your area throughout the year? It seems like there is a lot of ultra activity in your region.

I might have to come up and join you guys on one this year.

Good luck with the training. I look forward to following your progress.

Ben, aka BadBen said...

On my trail runs, I've jumped over Copperheads & rattlesnakes, came close to black bears, and have been hounded by coyotes. But nothing scares me more than the possibility of getting skunked while on a run.

Happy trails in 2007,
Bad Ben

Steve said...

Owls, skunks, and rabbits, Oh my! I hope we see some wildlife this Saturday (even the two legged kind).

runliarun said...

Are you running with your camera or did you dig up pictures of skunks from somewhere :)?

Journey to a Centum said...

These skunks are stunt doubles representing reasonable facsimiles of the same. No skunks were harmed during my run or in subsequent blog. I realize that several different types of skunks exist in the wild. I think the picture shows Hooded Skunks when in fact I belive the actual stinkers I saw were Striped Skunks. I think they all smell the same if they spray you however I'm not going to run any further testing to prove that theory.

Dori said...

What a great run, Eric, and you described it so well. How nice to encounter all that wildlife.

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