Thursday, June 10, 2010

Snakes On A Trail

Besides being a Jedi Knight, Samuel L Jackson has something else on me. There is no way that if I was on a plane full of snakes I would have the courage (under extreme duress) to yell "Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherf**king snakes on this motherf**king plane!" Me? I'd be hiding in the galley, curled up in the fetal position and drooling.

I'm deathly afraid of snakes. So having the displeasure of running into 3 of them in the last month while running in Bolsa Chica has been quite the bum out.

Snake sighting 1 was about a month ago. I was running along the trail, came around a little bend, and there it was. The snake was slithering off the trail, no doubt due to my foot falls. But it wasn't moving fast enough. If I didn't know any better I would swear it was defying me and daring me to take a step closer. I couldn't of course, because I was standing ramrod straight frozen in fear. I'm pretty sure this one was a gopher snake. But a snake is a snake. I was not stoked.

Gopher Snake

Snake sighting 2 happened about 2 weeks ago while crossing a drainage culvert. It was coiled up about 15 feet to my right warming itself on the concrete. I have no doubt this was a rattle snake. Again I was freaked out but kept running - much faster. And every stick I encountered for the rest of my run was a potential threat.

Western Rattlesnake

Snake sighting 3, which was last Sunday, was perhaps the worst. I was just about to turn off the trail and back onto a street. So my guard was down. I didn't see it until it was shooting off into the brush. I only saw it for a second, so I don't have any idea what kind it was. But just a glimpse of the snake was all it took for me to do the "stupid dance" for at least a minute. If you saw my heart rate data from that day, you'd see exactly where I saw it - at 4.6 miles.

You'll note that I've deemed certain places as "forbidden zones" and "areas of a high level of acceptable wildlife". The forbidden zones I will not even enter - because I've heard stories. The areas of a high level of acceptable wildlife are fine. But in the end, so what? Does a high population of rabbits and other rodents keep the snakes away? I doubt it. It's probably worse.

There is plenty of trail currently rated "safe" left, at least for now. But unfortunately they are covered in gravel. I've been trying to use the trail runs to work into my Vibram 5 Fingers. But running on the gravel hurts - a lot.

So either I have to get over the fear or hang up the trails until winter. Neither option is appealing - how would one go about "getting over" a fear of snakes, anyway? I have no idea. But I doubt you just hit a switch. And staying away until winter? Nah, I'd rather not. Dilemma.

Tonight was the weekly swim down at Corona Del Mar. Everything was going great until somebody saw a huge jelly fish. There is only one thing worse than jelly fish - snakes.

Someone take my Iphone away, these self portraits are getting annoying. Just after the swim. I didn't see a jelly fish - this time.


Kathleen said...

I too am terrified of snakes! Almost stepped on one as a kid while walking to the bus stop. I ran around and back into the house all the while screaming. It ruined me. There are a lot of snakes in CO. There are even some signs on a particular trail warning of Rattlesnakes. It is only on a race day with hundreds of people that I will run on that trail. If you figure out a way to overcome your fear, please post it on your blog :)

DRog said...

Dilemma for sure. I doubt you can overcome this fear without some sort of therapy?! I still have fear of raccoons (they have little hands!) and have seen them at more reason for me to quit the 4am early runs!

ajh said...

I have a recent snake post too.
If you figure out how to get over the fear of snakes let me know. I would pay a lot of money for that one.

KovasP said...

Does a high population of rabbits and other rodents keep the snakes away? Nope, that's what they eat.

For some reason, I've never liked Samuel L. Jackson.

Jennifer said...

You should try one of those special overload therapy sessions, ya know where they lock you up in box for several hours with a 100's of snakes. You'll either get over it or have a nervous breakdown and not remember any of it anyway. Cheers!

Karen said...

Shudder..... Snakes and jellyfish? Good God man, it is like Indiana jones and the temple of doom! Deathly afraid of both here... I contemplated a triathlon in Destin, FL last year. They stage people at T1 to spray you with some kind of bleach because you are almost guaranteed to get stung by a jellyfish on the swim leg. This year, it is jellyfish and tarballs from BP. Love the color coded map BTW.

Unknown said...

Snakes are my mortal enemy. I hate them, hate them real good!

And since I live in Texas and Texas has more types of poisonous snakes than any other state I am pretty much screwed. I've just accepted that one day I will actually be hit by a snake and it will be extremely unpleasant. I figure if I mentally prepare for it now then when it happens (and it will) panic will be replaced by resolve!

I stay away from the trails from April - November and the only reason is the snakes. So my vote for you is to run elsewhere until it cools off.

Tri-James said...

Last year was very snakey - looks like more of the same.

bob said...

the rumor is "they are more afraid of you than you are of them". The resulting snake blog for the day, "damn those runners" ...I was just sitting there sunning myself when all of a should've seen my heart rate spike!

bob said...

Next time you want a photo...requisition a local swim buddy as official blog photographer of the day.

OrangeBlossom said...

Yikes!! I'd rather come across a bear than a snake!

KC (my 140 point 6 mile journey) said...

Jeff and I are probably tied in the number of sanke sightings especially with the perfect snake weather. I see at least 3-5 pygmy rattlesnakes everyday...they just become common like seeing a squirrel. I'm careful not to step on them and extra cautious when i run or bike on the trails. I saw the biggest rattlesnake ever about 2 years ago and almost crapped in my bike shorts. It wasn't that it was long it was as thick as my thigh! I wonder if it had just eaten a goat?
In the water, I always think i see a jellyfish around me. That's why i hate OW so much.

Big Daddy Diesel said...

I am scared snakes, no thank you

Christine Jensen said...

Ah, snakes, I used to be terrified of snakes too...until I had boys who are obsessed with them and pick them up, play with them, etc...ugh, the joys of a house full of boys.

Matty O said...

Hmmm I like snakes?! Haha, guess I am a weirdo. Now is the snake season on the trails by us, actually grabbed one last night and I caught a baby mole while running!

No help here, just grab them behind their head if you go for one!

Bryan Hughes said...

Getting over your fear of snakes is all about just learning about them. If you're like the majority of Americans, the "facts" you know about what rattlesnakes are, are completely false. In reality, they are amazing, perfectly tuned predators who really, really don't want to see you either.

Do you have a friend that has one as a pet? Go hold it. Seriously. You won't be hurt. Your battle is with your mind, not the animals.

Glenn Jones said...

Ha ha! You think snakes are bad? Wait until one day when you're paddling around and you stick your and in one of those gelatinous masses. Gawd I hate Jellyfish! At least snakes try to get out of the way!

Aimee said...

OMG...snakes freak me out too! One time I was riding my bike on a trail and I came around a corner and there it was, stretched out over the entire width of the trail. I came to the fastest stop ever about 5 feet from it and waited for it to slither into the bushes. I was so freaked out that it took me awhile for my heart rate to get back to normal.

On another note, how do you like your Vibrams? I just got a pair of the Bikilas and am SLOWLY breaking them in. So far I really like them! :)


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