Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Back to Kona's Favorite Trail

We had a miserably hot streak last week. Kona and I still got out for our morning runs but I had little energy to do much more than make it through the day. Then this weekend, temperatures dropped 30 degrees but Kona was sick with disturbing stinky bum. Finally, bodies are healthy and the weather is tolerable.

For the first time in over three months, we returned to Kona's favorite trail (the scene of her foxtail inhalation). We arrived just as night faded. I was exited to be on a different trail. Kona seemed to share my enthusiasm. It took us nearly five minutes to move no more than 100 meters as Kona sniffed away. She found coyote scat and immediately squatted to pee. "Kona's back."
I forgot how much I enjoyed our neighborhood trail. Unlike our ridge, the climbs on this trail are steady and long. No tippy-toeing required to make it to the top. At the crest of our second hill, I stopped to admire the mountains. During the winter, the forest peaks can be covered in snow and the power lines that criss-coss the trail buzz from the moisture in the air. Today, as we enter the driest months of the year, the forests no doubly laid crisp brown under the morning light and the tower stood in silence. This is the time of year we hold our breath to not ignite a brush fire.

To help reduce the risk of fire, crews come in to remove brush. While I can't help but think the efforts would be in vain in face of fierce heat and winds, Kona gets to enjoy the results of the work. She sniffed away in a foxtail-free zone.

Despite being sick for a couple days, Kona exploded with energy. She zoomed around, becoming a difficult photo subject.
Once she caught the trail of a mule deer, she fell into her tracking zone, zipping around only to stop suddenly to survey the scene.
The deer hunt proved to be a lost cause but Kona found other things to explore. I had to make a desperate yank to keep her from pouncing something on the side of the trail. I recently read an article about an increase in the number of snake bite victims in the area showing the effects of neurotoxic venom. This is a bit alarming as usually only the Mojave Green rattler (which isn't in our area) is feared for its neurotoxic bite.

As I thought about rattlesnakes, I rounded the corner to find this:
The snake that left this trail was a big boy; most likely a western diamondback. With Kona nearby for perspective, you can see just how thick the snake's body was. Seeing that the track was nearly untouched on a popular trail, I figured the snake slithered through just hours, if not minutes, earlier.

With the snake behind us, we headed up our last climb. The trail was nearly empty. So much so that I thought I had missed the memo. Certainly everyone was home for a reason? Whatever the case, I enjoyed the quiet. Just as we reached our turn around, the sun erupted behind the mountains.
It may be weeks yet before I feel comfortable returning to the singletrack trails in our forest. I'm learning that foxtails stick around throughout the dry season, which could be (ahem) until January. Thankfully, the barbed seeds are beginning to lose their umph, making it safer to return to some of our favorite trails.


Two Pitties in the City said...

Your runs look amazing! It has been way too hot here in Chicago for me to do much beyond the treadmill. I envy that Kona wants to run with you. Mine are home sleeping.

Sara said...

My jaw dropped at the sight of that snake trail. That would have freaked me out. Looks like Kona wanted to have a little taste of the snake though...the way her tongue was sticking out!

I'm glad Kona is feeling better, and you guys are back on your trail.

The sunrise photo is stunning.

Stella said...

A great post, AC, and I enjoyed reading your words and looking at pictures . . .Thanks!


Jo and Stella

Diana said...

Im glad Kona is feeling better. wow, the snake trail was huge. Makes my skin craw. Diana

LauraK said...

Good to hear that you two are back on your favorite trail and your team is healthy and back at em!

What a cool picture of the snake trail- a little scary, but cool!

Life with 5 dogs said...

What an amazing run you guys took! I am so glad you guys didn't run into that snake, that would not be good! Have you every ran into a rattle snake while out running?

Priscilla said...

Sounds like you had yet another great run.
That snake trail would have gotten me so freaked out I would be sprinting home!

KB said...

Now that was a huge snake track! I can see why that would make you nervous...

I hope that those foxtails stay at bay so that you and Kona can keep running your favorite trail!

Maybe the memo had something to do with not starting to run until after sunrise :)

Dawn said...

That is the biggest snake trail I have ever seen. Actually, now that I think about it, that is the ONLY snake trail I've ever seen! Glad you didn't run into the snake! Though it was probably watching you...

Glad you guys are better and back to work on your favorite trail. Love the mountain/sun photo! And those EARS of Kona, set in the "alert mode!"

Anonymous said...

Oh, I can see what that trail is Kona's favorite! It looks Most Wonderful! I wish I could come! My mom's a big chicken little when it comes to snakes. Any snakes. At all. She's all "SQUEEEE! It's a teeny, tiny little garter snake but it might eat my head!"

Sigh. Most Luckily, she's got other good qualities that make up for this most unbecoming of qualities.

Wiggles & Wags,

MurphyDog said...

OMD! Mom thinks that must have been a Great Dane of a snake to make that big of a trail! Bet she (Mom thinks the girls get bigger than the boys) was watchin you quietly from the edge of the trail. Glad Kona din't spook her!

wags, wiggles & stay-away-snake slobbers

Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart said...

I just finished a national dog magazine article about dogs and snakes. It won't publish until later this year, but I talked to the veterinary snakebite expert that all my other experts said I should call. He said the idea that rattlesnakes had only hemotoxins is old. They've known the mohave had neurotoxins for a while, but now they know that at least 7 of 16 known species/varieties of rattlesnakes in North America have both hemotoxins and neurotoxins.

And, yes, those big diamondbacks can deliver huge amounts of venom in one bite. I interviewed a woman (who lives in Malibu), and her 130-pound dog died from a single rattlesnake bite. They ran every day in the hills around her house. He survived the initial part, but he died 13 months later because his kidneys were shot from the venom load.

Be careful out there!

Kathy said...

Snakes, YIKES! I still hate those fox tails, yuck! That has to be such a peaceful time to go out running, it sure is pretty in the pictures!

Barb said...

Wonderful sunrise and early-morning shots of your run with Kona, AC! Be careful of the slithering creatures!