And a Sunday run.....
After enjoying a great run at Emerald Lake, followed by another awesome run at the inaugral Crazy Soles Nipika Trail Race, I decided I needed more, more, MORE!!
With that in mind, I opened the back door and set out on my run and on to the trails that connect right from my backyard. I waved to one of my neighbors who was in his yard gardening and gave pats to his dog. Not even five minutes out the back door, I saw a large female elk on the trail so I detoured into the forest to avoid her. I was bushwacking through a boggy, mosquitoe infested section only minutes in to my run and bitching to myself about unintentionally getting very wet feet. Frickin' elk, I thought....frickin' wet feet!
My train of thought was interrupted, when I heard some crashing through the bushes and saw, very much to my surprise, that the elk had followed me. She was stalking me. I had never seen an elk do this before and she was walking quickly and with purpose. I looked up ahead at the forest, mentally picking out the larget tree and decided to make a break for it. I needed to get myself to some place safer than the shoe soaking bog! When I broke into a sprint for the forest, she charged. Hooves crashing, trees breaking, earth thundering. Charge. As I ran, I was also screaming, "Nooooo! Go Away!" This was all I could come up with in crisis. But I was shouting at her, loudly and it wasn't making any difference. I made it to the forest, but the first spot I picked didn't make me feel so secure, so I did a little tree slalom trying to find a better spot and she still kept coming! My adrenalin and heart rate were out of control and I was sprinting and slaloming though the trees with a nimbleness I never knew I had. Good Thing I Am A Runner, I kept thinking to myself. As well as, This Is Frickin' Crazy.
I had one very random funny thought amongst the brief thoughts of my immediate demise and death-by-stomping-bitch-elk and that was "Damn, I am going to scratches all over my arms and mosquitoe bites all over me and I won't be so pretty wearing my strapless dress at the wedding tonight!!" Go figure. The weird irrational thoughts that go through your mind at times of stress and fear. I Can't Believe This Is Happening was another thought that kept repeating itself in my brain.
I managed to make it to a thick cluster of three trees, after retreating to the best of my ability and being charged three times. There, I remained with heart pounding and elk stomping just out of my reach. We even did a little tree dance and a few circles around my "safety trees". She was pissed. She kept rearing up and snorting and pawing the air. Bitch.
It took me about 5 minutes to get my breathing and my brain under control and then I started to look around to examine my options, but there just weren't any! There was a nice trail behind me where maybe I could make a break, but where and why? She was faster and bigger and angry with me. I had been shouting loudly this entire time, I had been hoping the neighbors might hear me to come investigate. Finally, I remembered that I had Bear Spray with me! Through the excitement and fear and chaos, I had forgotten about my bear spray which I always run with, attached within easy reach on my hydration pack. And after a 10 minute stand-off, pinned behind my little grove of trees, I realized I did in fact have a solution! The elk was not going anywhere. And I could not go anywhere. So I got out the spray, took off the safety, checked out the wind, aimed and shot. Straight in her face. The effect was immediate and very effective. She ran blindly through the woods for a short distance and then pawed frantically at her face. I felt terrible, but knew I had no choice. I turned around and sprinted down the clear trail, looking over my shoulder the entire time.
During all of this, I did realize that she must have a calf in the area for her to be so defensive and aggresive. So, while not being typical elk behaviour, this was predictable behaviour for an elk with a newborn calf in the woods. This time of year, they drop their babies and they just sort of hide them in quiet parts of the forest to nurse and feed their newborns. I think when I first saw her and retreated into the woods, I went the wrong way. While I was retreating from her, I probably almost tripped on her newborn calf hidden in the woods! She in return, lost her mind and was being defensive for all the right reasons. Still, it was a no brainer and I had to use the spray to get out of there safely.
So, now 15 minutes in to my "run" and cranked on adrenalin, I continued for a solid hour and a half at a very fast tempo. I think I sprinted up Sulphur Mountain. I was certainly sore enough the next day! I called the Park Wardens office when I got home, to tell them about my incident and they issued an "alert" for the area.
On a sidebar on elk related subjects....a funny story.
The evening before, relaxing in my front living room we were watching the "Elkvision". Having no television in the house, sometimes we sit in the front living room and enjoy the view out the front window or the "Elkvision". Well, last night we had a great show! There was a lone male elk, with his still-growing-fuzzy-cute-little antlers which was grazing all night on the front lawn. He has been around all week. He was becoming such a fixture, that we thought that he deserved a name as he was a Local. We decided to call him "Mittens" just like you'd name your cute fuzzy kitty-cat. Anyhow, that's it. Mittens is still around, but I haven't seen any signs of his bitch....
Elkvision in Banff
Kluane Drive - Out the front window