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Training Log: Swampfox

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Wednesday Jul 19 #

Note

I went out biking in the afternoon as a storm was approaching from the west, and once it was over the Snowies and approaching the valley proper, it sent out curved horns of advance rain far off to both sides--in a typical Zulu attack formation, and once the two horns curved completely around and met up, I was entrapped, with the main body advancing from the west.

However, my situation wasn't immediately dire as 1) it wasn't raining yet right where it was, plus 2) no lightning, plus 3) I had my own plan. And my plan was to lure the main body into close proximity, and then hightail it for home at top speed, hopefully getting back just before the main assault began. This would ensure an ample amount of rainfall (hopefully) ending up in my yard, and that's how you take advantage of a Zulu rainstorm attack.

It worked to perfection--this time! Ha! However I can recount many other times when they were total fails.

Once the rains petered off to a mild drizzle, I headed out to go running at Happy Jack. It was quite late, so I thought I might have the trails to myself, but there was one car for a mountain biker in the parking lot.

I had checked the weather radar before leaving home, and I really had expected to maybe get started more or less dry, but to get soaked by one or more passing clouds sooner or later, and so I dressed accordingly in some clothes that would be fine for running while wet, and which could use the washing anyway. I figured it could be good training for Scottish running conditions.

In fact, besides a very few drops just as I was starting out, it never did rain again--it just threatened the whole time.

Running along mindlessly and enjoying not getting soaked in cold rain, things came to a screeching halt at one point when I noticed a dark object up ahead, blocking the trail where the trail ran through a small grove of short, young aspen trees. Cow? Darth Vader? Cloak of Death?

No. It was a bull moose. A very large bull moose with very large antlers still in velvet, and therefore still growing. It looked at me very nonchalantly, and then went back to munching some aspen. It was cool just watching it for a bit, and then I noticed there were too many legs for a bull moose--it was not one bull moose but two, standing side by side, and the second moose had an even larger set of antlers in velvet. I watched for a little while longer but it got to the point where I was ready to continue, and I really wanted to continue along the trail, which presented an obvious problem. I thought that maybe if I moved a little closer they would just pick up and vacate, but they didn't, and now I was starting to feel like I was a little uncomfortably close--I don't know, 45' or so away from them. And there wasn't anything really good I could jump behind right where I was, just in case. Then I could see they had raised their hackles, which is not the way moose show they are just being friendly.

So I backed off slowly, left the trail, and made a big loop around them through the woods, and that was that.

It's so random--just a week or so ago I had remarked to a friend that I hadn't seen a moose in weeks, and in the past several days I've seen three, including the two biggest I've ever seen locally!

Tuesday Jul 18 #

Note

Very hazy out by the afternoon, easily discerned from the trails at Happy Jack. The thickest haze was to the west and south and I couldn't make up my mind whether it was just the usual sort of haze that gets generated along the Front Range during hot and dry weather, or if it was some forest fire(s) near and/or far, or what. As a general observation, I believe the air is getting hazier on average with each passing summer.

Lots of bikers out as is usual, and I crossed paths with another runner--less usual. Mountain biking reins supreme at Happy Jack these days.

Another hot day, and, if the forecasts hold up, tomorrow will be the 7th straight day above 80F--a new record--for just a brutal stretch of weather. Dogs spend all day loitering in the shadows and don't show even the merest hint of interest at chasing rabbits or mailmen, fishermen go down the river and open beer rather than their tackle boxes, bees only visit every other flower, and I even heard that some AC company was successful in making a sale of a small window AC unit to some rich family in town.

It's worse at night. Sometimes the temperature doesn't even drop below 50F, and of course when that happens and you leave ice cream out on the counter overnight, bad stuff happens. Like I said, just brutal.

Sunday Jul 16 #

Note

O' at Pelican Bay, 8.6 kms, 24 controls, more sage than you would guess from looking at where the course went, one very well hidden badger hole (but my foot found it anyway), and one bull moose with a large set of antlers still in velvet.

Starting out I was going carefully, partly because the course began with a string of very short legs in some sage, and partly because it didn't appear as if any cows were around. But soon after that I detected a good sized herd which were hunkered down in a well fortified line just inside the edge of a long aspen grove. After that, things went faster and faster. It felt warm in the sun (this was late morning) but not too warm, and there was a nice breeze that still had a cool touch to it.

I haven't done a complete count yet, but my preliminary estimate is that I bashed through at least 8045 sage plants. And I also bashed/cracked a fingernail when I fell after one foot disappeared into an aforementioned, well hidden badger hole.

I also saw one nighthawk fly up off the ground and then try to lure me away from the area by acting injured. I did a quick search for chicks but had no luck in spotting them; I did see one tiny fluff of down on the ground, and from that I knew I was close. Not close enough, though.

With three controls to go, it occurred to me I had had a pretty clean run, and that if I just got the next two controls, then it would be a nice run (the last control was simple)--and just at about that moment, I thought I could see where the next control feature was, so I picked it up, "punched" at the control (there wasn't really anything there) and then looked out at the exit direction...and what I saw made no sense at all. So I looked at the map more carefully, and came to realize that it was right when I was thinking about how I had had a clean run, I was passing the actual control location--ha! Orienteering never ceases to be humbling.

Saturday Jul 15 #

Note

Running at Happy Jack, I saw a familiar coyote. At least I think it's a coyote I've seen before--same location, same appearance (though coyotes to me basically look about the same), and similar behavior. It is the behavior that makes this coyote, because almost all local coyotes are *very* skittish around people, to the point where if they see or hear you first, you probably won't see them. And if you do see them, they are running.

But this coyote has seemed more curious than afraid to me. It's never moved very far away, and never left my sight. At the same time, it's been completely non-threatening. Maybe it's just hoping for a bagel handout.

I also took note of a small jet low in the sky, streaking east. It seemed clear enough it had taken off from the Laramie airport. I see identical jets from time to time, and I have always guessed--though I have no way of knowing--that they are probably fractional ownership jets, bearing coaches or assistant coaches off on recruiting trips.

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