The trails I run here at home are mostly in and around town. We live in a very forested area, and in addition to some very well worn paths, walking trails and city made paths, there are loads of deer and jeep trails to follow.
Even though things are relatively urban, I can get off path and get in a good 5 mile loop with very little pavement or cars. It is one of the reasons I love where we live.
Some of the trails run beachside, but not many. I will take what I can get though for views like this.
So much of the wild property at the coast where we live is privately owned. I have one hard and fast rule and that is, NEVER, EVER CROSS A FENCE. Period. Ever. As in never. Am I clear?
No matter how epic it looks on the other side.
In addition to the obvious point of it being trespassing, there are so so many dangers involved in hopping a fence. People hunt on their properties here, so if you are not expected to be there, they may mistake you for an animal in the brush. There are cattle to be concerned about. Seriously, do you know if there are bulls on the land you are about to trespass on? If they have taken the time to put a barbed wire fence all around the property (and litter the city property with said barbed wire) they do not want you there and they are probably trying to keep something within it. Like cows. Or bulls.
Have you ever been running and come face to face with a bull? I have and it is freaking scary. I stopped, looked for a tree, then ran and stood next to it in case the bull charged. It snorted, and pawed the ground and stared me down. Luckily I had my phone with me, so my FIL and husband drove over and rescued me. Okay, they didn’t rescue me. They actually sat in the truck at the top of the ridge and watched me squirm.
Bill: “What do you think it is going go to do to you?”
Me: “um, for starts, trample and maim me.”
Bill: “Dad says just walk slowly back the way you came. It probably isn’t going to hurt you (laughing in background)”.
Me: “Probably????? Billy, I am going to kill you when I get back up there and you will wish you were facing off with a bull”.
This is the ridge from where they watched the bull event. Punks.
The bulls harem.
Enjoying my run prior to The Bull Standoff.
I retraced my steps slowly while facing the bull, and hopped across a cattle guard.
Oh, while we are on cattle guards…..they are considered a fence too. The property I was on is a huge ranch owned by a handful of people including my inlaws, so I had permission to be on it. If you are out and about on your trail runs, cattle guards are usually trying to contain….wait for it…..cattle. So use caution.
Back to crossing fences. This is pretty important if you are out on a large piece of property. Some State Parks are quite huge, and getting lost would be very easy. A couple of important rules to follow if you are going to head out into the wilderness or on very rural trails:
- Always tell someone exactly where you are going, and DO NOT change the plan….no matter how cool that other path looks. If you get hurt, and are unable to call for help, knowing the general area where you are running will help rescue crew to find you more quickly. If you venture off from your plan, you just reduced your chances of being found in a timely manner.
- Bring a friend. I am a solitary runner and this is a hard one for me, but if I am going to go do some serious trail running in the future, I will be calling a friend to join. The buddy system is a good thing out in the wilderness.
- If you get lost, never EVER cross a fence. Stay in the boundaries of the park or land that you are running on. You will increase the area and confusion by crossing fences, which will make it more difficult to find your way back or for someone to find you.
- Use common sense. Seriously, it goes a long way. If you are not sure of the path, don’t take it. Simple as that.
As for running on the more urban or city trials, there are dangers there as well.
When I was at my moms, I found a trail across from the hospital where she was being treated. I got some vague directions from the nurses and off I went.
The paved path wound along side a creek and it was just stunning.
I tried to get a bit off the main trail by running along and down on the creek bed.
Until I came upon this.
A homeless camp. Yes, I climbed back up the rocks and got back on the main path pronto. A woman out alone, on a creek with hobos, is simply no bueno. Even smack dab in the middle of the city. I did not feel one bit safe after that. Sometimes that desire to be on a trail over rides common sense. For me, it was a big HELL NO after I saw this. End of story. Even with views like this and opportunities to rock hop, I was out of there.
Alone in an unfamiliar area, I should have kept with the well populated paved trail. Lesson learned.
Another issue for me is wildlife.
Aside from goats….
There are lots of deer and buck and when they are in season they are not timid. A buck can be a bit intimidating when they don’t run from you.
I have run smack dab into a pack of coyotes before (one, fine…but a pack of around 8 stopped my heart. They were certainly awe inducing in their raw beauty, but holy heck I felt vulnerable amidst them, even knowing they are pretty shy creatures), and what I believed to be cougar tracks. It was confirmed to me last week by the parks director here that indeed a cougar has been spotted numerous times where I run. Awesome.
One way I have added a bit more safety to my runs is by bringing my husky with me.
I am sure she would fight a cougar for me. I think.
I am certain she would attack someone who was attacking me. 100% sure. She is a very loyal, protective girl.
Skye is a pretty intimidating looking dog when faced with someone she does not know. If looks could kill, hers would. I’ve shown you this before. Go ahead. Put your hand out there and pet her. Not.
So I have started bringing her on my trail runs. A protective dog can go a long way to keeping you safe.
Trail running is truly an awesome way to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise. For me, I am so very, very over endlessly pounding out miles on the sidewalk
and prefer dirt trails and soaking in my surroundings.
Just play it safe if you do head off the path less traveled and remember to never ever cross a fence.
And never forget your hat!