Sunday, May 04, 2008

Adventure on the trail

Weather was so much better this weekend then the forecast! Friday it was pouring rain and windy. Forecast for Saturday was 30% chance of rain, cloudy, temps in the upper 30's. Perfect hypothermia weather. I started to re-think my plans to run Saturday while at the SHTA Annual Meeting.

Reality: sunny, windy (very windy), and warming into the 40's. Perfect running weather.

I headed out from Wolf Ridge with a group that was hiking a 6 mile out and back to "Fantasia" overlook. My plan called for a 10 mile run, so I needed to add on another 4 miles somewhere on the SHT. The Wolf Ridge trails were mostly dry, but they are up on a hill. Footing got wetter as I descended and it turned into a muddy, wet run once on the SHT. Heard the area got 1 inch of rain Friday night, so it was no big surprise that the occasional stream appeared on the trail!

This section was an interesting mix of puddles, mud and steep ascents and descents. It is technical singletrack, except for the Wolf Ridge trails (more akin to ski trails). Synopsis from the SHT guidebook: " of the most challenging, varies greatly from the easy long stretches along the contours to steep, scrambling ascents and descents. There are many open ledges affording beautiful views of both Lake Superior and its shoreline, and inline lakes, mountains and valleys. "

I seemed to have missed out on the long easy stretches. The views are spectacular! Luckily the wind was blowing from the west, so no risk of being blown off a cliff edge ;->

Over 50% of the trail was under water, so trying to keep my feet dry was pretty pointless. Running on the SHT requires focus. I didn't get much of an opportunity to look up at my surroundings except while hiking up the steep ascents. I did manage to notice a few signs of spring including: violets just emerging from the soil and unfurling their leaves; columbine leaves along the steep stretches; marsh marigolds - both leaf and flower buds; and nesting birds (more on that later).

In one stretch of trail on my way out to Hwy 1 I came upon the remains of a deer. Interesting to run through puddles lined with deer fur. Not much was left other than a leg or two and a ribcage - and the fur.

After running west to Hwy 1, then returning to the trail junction with the Wolf Ridge trails, I headed east towards another overlook on the SHT (overlook = steep ascent/descent), turned around and headed back to the trail junction. Got a bit confused here, headed down a trail I thought would take me back to Wolf Ridge, hit an intersection with the SHT that I had been through already, turned around, headed back - uphill - and got back onto the right trail up to the environmental learning center.

That is when the REAL excitement of the day began! I was nearing the end of my 10 mile run, heading up hill and had just turned a corner on the trail when I heard a screech. Looked up in an attempt to locate the bird and see if I could identify it. A greyish, large bird flew over. Hmm, hawk of some sort... stopped to see if I could get a better look. Bird flew over again, this time lower, and screeching the whole time. Hmm, think it wants me to move on, must be nesting in the area. So, up the hill I go, next thing I know, a third pass is being made! Lots of screeching and the bird is much closer. By this time I am ducking, apologizing (swearing) and heading up the trail as fast as I can go. Out of the corner of my eye I see the hawk diving on me again, and by now I am worrying about her talons and wondering how bad it hurts to get attacked by a hawk and if I will freak folks out when I show up with a head wound! The fourth and final pass came within 6 inches of my head (near as I could tell while ducking and running) and by then I must have gotten far enough away that she felt confident I was no longer a threat to her nest because the attacks stopped.

What kind of hawk did I piss off Saturday? A Northern Goshawk. For a picture follow this link:

There has been a female nesting in the area of trail I was on for the past few years. Found that out after I got back to the ELC and spoke with staff. I was the only person that weekend to experience this unique sign of spring. Best adventure so far on a trail run!

OKC: not much knitting got done this past week. Long days spent at work and on board and family stuff. A little progress has been made on the Baby Surprise, no progress on the mittens or hat.

New Interweave Knits arrived while I was gone... just what I need more inspiration!

1 comment:

Chris said...

I saw some violets this weekend, too! Both cool and scary about the hawk. :) Let me know if you manage to find some inspiration in the IWK - the best thing I found to say about it was that it wasn't quite as scary as Knitters...