Tuesday, July 5, 2011

One More BLM Killing Fields

After seeing a rattlesnake on the BLM land immediately behind the house while running the other day I started running on dirt and gravel roads close to the house.
These roads lead across two cattle guards and eventually onto a wide open dirt road and then onto still more BLM land that is also relatively open.
I do have snake chaps but even though I have seen only one rattler to this point I know they are out there in a big way and truthfully I just don't have the stomach for them.
Too much long grass now growing.  Too many sage bushes.  Too many sage brush branches laying across trails that look like snakes.
I took the pictures above and immediately below just a few minutes from the house................
Someone joked one day that Wyoming only has two seasons - Winter and August 11.
Apparently that WAS only a joke because it has been very very warm for the past couple of weeks and Summer has definitely and finally arrived in Cody.
It is very hot and very dry and running has become a chore as it inevitably does for me at this time of year.
I toughed it out each Summer in Tennessee and am committed to toughing it out here as well.
Every Summer it is the same thing - endurance goes down, motivation goes down, performance goes down - and every summer I continue to hang on to whatever fitness I have until the cooler weather of Fall arrives.
Late Fall and through the Winter was always the time for increasing distances and decreasing times.
Not that I am "in training" anymore.
Running is still the sluggish and laborious task it has been since I decided to start it again.
But it is also an activity that I have come back to so many times since I began running in earnest way-back-when.
I remember running in high school - two a days (morning and night) in canvas high-top Converse shoes (and of course encountering my first real bout of shin splints at the same time until I bought better shoes - Adidas).
My primary activities in those days were judo and karate and I ran not for any specific purpose.
I ran only to run because I loved to run.  Never fast.  Just long. 
Will it ever be that way again?
I am 51 now.  
Maybe it won't..................

I crossed both cattle guards and ran along a dirt road that paralleled the channel.
Channeling my middle aged angst and listening to Tool and Disturbed on an old MP3 player that my brainiac oldest child programmed for me a few years ago.
When I ran on trails in Tennessee (and if I was following a prescribed 7 mile route I used to run regularly) I used to know exactly where I was supposed to be on the trail based on not just the time indicated on my watch but also by which song was playing on my player.
Sometimes I was a little slower.  Sometimes I was a little faster.
But usually I was pretty predictable in speed.
That predictability was something that was familiar.  Something I could count on.  Something that I intrinsically understood even when other things around me were at times spinning out of control.
It was just me and the music and the trail.
Music I had been listening to for years.
A trail I had been running on for years.  
I was familiar with every trail out there but knew every single curve of this one particular 7 mile loop.
Me, the music and the trail.  We all belonged to each other.............

There are a couple of homes located on this dirt road but eventually it leads onto BLM land.
As I crossed through an open gate I looked to my left and saw an animal hide partially obscured by the long grass.
I had also seen a hide the other day not too far from this one, and breezed on by while making a mental note of the find.
As I continued running (jogging - shuffling - sucking wind - wishing it was cooler) I transitioned onto a quieter but still open trail and came across this deer leg laying in the middle of the trail.
I stopped only briefly to take a picture of it before continuing on.............
Continuing further I explored a different trail wanting to see where it lead and then began to head back the way I had come.
As I approached the place where both animal hides lay close to each other (both partially hidden but both seen on recent runs) I stopped for a minute to take in the sight in front of me.
Much like my discovery of an animal "killing fields" high in the BLM hills behind the house a month or so ago I realized that I had unexpectedly come across a second one.
There were bones lying everywhere, spread out over a span of 50 yards or more.
Running temporarily forgotten I reached into a side pocket of the shorts I was wearing and grabbed for my camera wanting to record my find..............

Bones and bone fragments scattered everywhere.
Some partially hidden in the grass and some laying out in the open off the trail.
I carry a 357 with me (the first round is buckshot), a cell phone, camera, MP3 player and bottle of water.
The crackled ground tells the story of the last time we had a really good rain.............
The hide I found the other day............
I had stopped running at this point and found myself searching for the carcass I found during this particular run - the one I had blown by on the way in.
Because these trails and roads run along the irrigation canal there is much growth - the grass is longer, the flowers are more plentiful, the sage bushes are taller and for a few minutes I could not find the hide.
While still searching I took these pictures of the area immediately around me...........
And then I found it.
Ever since I started becoming a regular BLMer I have seen, on almost every visit, some evidence of animals that have been killed.  A carcass - a hide - a bone - a bone fragment.............
One of the roads that is quickly becoming my new stomping grounds.
It is isolated and quiet.
It has beautiful views of the mountains.
It will work until the weather cools down and the snakes wander (slither - yuk) back up into the hills to do whatever snakes do and go wherever snakes go when it gets cold again.............
More pictures taken on the dirt road leading directly onto BLM..............
Flowering cactus are now everywhere.
This picture was taken facing the lowering sun so is washed out.
But the flowers were beautiful.............
A closer look at the flowering cactus.
Yellow seems to be the predominant color of wild flowers in this part of the country.............
This particular Tool song used to play on my MP3 about 15 minutes from the end of my run in Tennessee.
If I was running the loop when this song was playing I would begin on a very winding and narrow section of trail hidden in a large growth of pine trees.
From there I would turn left and run down a overgrown double track trail - first down a short steep hill and then up another short steep hill.
At the top of the hill I turned right onto a very long and very steep downhill, followed by a long flat section and then quickly leading up into small climbs and quick switchbacks.
By the time I got to the last switchback and up the last hill, and as long as I was not overheated and still felt strong, I would be clock-watching and busting my ass to try and ensure I did not finish the run over time. 
Long flat and tight single track section, turn left onto very flat double track, turn right and single track all the way back to the parking lot.
I haven't thought about that section of trail in that much detail since December 2009.
I always loved how I felt when this song played because it is a very smooth song to run very smooth tight turns on single track alone in the middle of a forest............. 

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