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Sunday, July 03, 2005
Hurdling snakes, w/pics (not of the snake)
There were two problems with this plan. First, it was midday and hot, and I haven't been doing that lately. I brought plenty of water and a package of Gu, so I was in no danger, but I was uncomfortable to the point of questioning my sanity. Still, onward I plugged, from a parking spot high on the trail, past the busy Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center (it's the penultimate day of the big L&C Bicentennial folderol hereabouts), to the busy Rainbow Falls overlooks, and on past the end of the paved part of the trail.
I went down the big coulee that empties into the Missouri below Malmstrom Air Force Base, and was going up the other side on a narrow trail that was made narrower by thick sweetclover. That's when I encountered problem No. 2: another large rattlesnake. I was one step short of tromping on it, when I let out a whoop, jumped to the side (instantaneously hoping that the brush there wasn't inhabited by more snakes), then sprinted (or what passes for sprinting by a slightly overweight 55-year-old on a steep incline) up the trail to a clear spot at the top — clear so that I could be assured that no more snakes were about to nab me. (See pictures below)
I considered my options: Go about 2-1/2 miles farther along the same kind of narrow trail — in an area that doesn't see many visitors — or go back the way I'd just come. Neither alternative held much appeal, but inasmuch as flying wasn't an option, and inasmuch as I was hot, I went back the way I came. Fortunately, I probably freaked the snake out too, and it was gone. It was a large one, maybe as thick as my wrist where I spotted it, with quite a few rattles buzzing off into the clover.
The rest of the trot was uneventful, except that I was shot by the time I got back to my car. I like to think the burst of adrenaline tapped me out, but probably it was a good thing that I turned back then anyway. I'm not sure I could have handled an additional 5 miles in that becalmed heat and bright sun(88 degrees or so — not much to most of you, but hotter'n blazes for me).
Be it here resolved that I'm going to stop running the wild trails in remote areas by the river in the summer. This is three this spring/summer, in about five runs, and I don't like those odds (understand further that I don't much care for snakes, even if they don't have rattles). Anyway,
7; 14-1/2; 7; 423
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