About my blog

Welcome to my trail running site. I enjoy being on the trail where I can take in nature and clear my mind. I prefer running in the mountains, but anywhere rural will do. I have completed four 100 mile trail races and many other ultramarathons. I spend countless hours running in the Franklin Mountains in El Paso, TX. I call it "going to church". I'm a member of Team Red, White and Blue. "Enriching the lives of America's veterans."

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Two snake encounters within five minutes of each other! That sums up my run in the Franklin Mountains. My running buddy spotted the first one in the middle of the trail and stopped in time for us to admire his black and white banded tail and rattle. We were about to turn around soon anyway so decided to head back the way we came so as not to have to guess where he was on the return trip.

The first one

After running for five minutes or so I noticed something out of the corner of my eye and realized that I had just run past another rattler. Where was he when we came through here the first time? How close did we come to him? I would venture to say that I’ve probably run a few feet or perhaps inches from snakes in the past having never noticed them. After seeing one snake, we were on high alert when we passed the second one, but didn’t spot it.

The second one
It’s terrifying to think about, especially if you’ve ever seen the affects of a rattlesnake bite. Last summer my dog, Taz was bitten by a rattler and I now have greater respect for venomous snakes after caring for this dog’s misfortune. I’m happy to say that he has since completely recovered. 

Read: Emergency on the Trail!

Another recent outing took me, once again, past a snake that was coiled up beside the trail. I suppose I thought it was just another rock because I was heading downhill on a very rocky trail trying to avoid taking a digger. Once past the snake, I turned around and realized just how close I was to him. (I think I pooped in my shorts a little.)

I was quite on edge after this and was planning to do an all night training run in a few days to get ready for my up coming hundred miler. I wanted to run on trails in the Franklin Mountains, but was afraid of stepping on a land mine since snakes are more active after sundown.

Instead I opted to run on the Rio Grande levee road and connecting canals. There would be fewer snakes and the smooth dirt roads would allow me to see one easier. I started my run just after sundown and within 30 minutes saw a snake crossing the road heading towards the river. Fortunately it was only a harmless king snake so I stopped to watch him move off the trail. 

King Snake
The other wildlife I saw that night was a skunk and a jaguarundi, a small panther like wild cat that is only native to the southern most tip of Texas. OK, you’re right. I hadn’t slept in over 24 hours and had been running all night. It was most likely a huge stray cat that had been dining out of the Rudy’s Bar-B-Q dumpster. But you never know.

While running at the ranch with my dogs recently, I spotted another serpent. Monsoon rains have filled stock tanks with water and I was running along a levee that created a riparian zone where aquatic plants flourish. (This is a rare sight in an otherwise desert landscape.) A small benign looking snake was stretched out across the path, but fortunately the dogs were oblivious to his presence. It turned out to be a checkered garter snake which are abundant around wetlands where they dine on fish, frogs and worms. 

Checkered garter snake
We had a cold front move through this past weekend so I wasn’t too worried about snakes while out on my trail run. I figured they were too cold to be moving about and would soon become dormant as the weather became colder. The morning was chilly and windy and I completed 22 miles on snake-free trails. 

Baby rattler
This was the first day I started using my Charity Miles App to earn some donations for Team Red, White and Blue. When I returned to the trailhead, I realized that I was close to a full marathon so decided to keep running for my team. To get some more miles, I ran on the road in a new sub-division in W. El Paso (Cimarron). Lo and behold, there was a baby rattlesnake in the bike lane near the sidewalk. The same sidewalk where children wait for the school bus, people walk their dogs and moms and dads stroll their babies. I’ve heard that baby rattlesnake bites are the worst because they can’t control their venom. 

Rattlesnake country (notice the proper footwear).
At first I thought the snake was dead because his tail was injured; perhaps a cyclist ran over him. However when I touched him with a stick he coiled up as if to say, “make my day, buddy!” It just goes to show that you are never safe in rattlesnake country so always be alert whether on or off the trail. If the worst ever happens, seek medical attention as soon as possible. The good news is that you are most likely not going to die. The bad news is that you may wish you had. 

See you on the trail.

No comments:

Post a Comment