Over the past few months I have been training pretty consistently for the Mountain Masochist 50+ mile race. Last year I started this race and DNFd at the midway point. I was very under-trained and went out way too fast. This years race will not be a repeat of that. Since I have been logging a lot of Hot and Humid summer miles I have seen a lot of wildlife. This includes the normal small game like squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, turtles, frogs, toads, birds, and small snakes. Nothing too out of the ordinary. On a few occasions I have seen some picture worthy wildlife and in one case have a good story to go along with it.
In early June I was out on a long run on the roads. There is an old road near my house that is closed to traffic and used as a running / bike path. I was on one of the seldom used and gated access roads. The days before had some very windy storms so there was a lot of blow down. I was wearing my subscription sun glasses, but they were steamed up so my vision was not perfect. As I ran along the road I got within 5 feet of the largest copperhead I have ever seen in the wild or captivity. I almost ran right over it due to the foggy glasses. Luckily I had my camera with me and snapped this picture. The average length is 2 to 3 feet according to multiple sources. This guy was at least 4 feet long. I wish I would have measured the leaf laying behind him for perspective. He did crawl away slowly once he saw / felt me.
A few weeks ago I was running on some dirt roads near my house and saw this copperhead from a distance. I had to stop and take a picture because he had just caught a rat. I would estimate he was a little over 3.5 feet long. A good size snake, but not nearly as big as the one above. I ran past him (or her) again 20 minutes later and the only part of the rat visible was its hind legs. I really wish I would have taken a second picture.
While we were on our summer vacation a bear mauled our wooden swing set. We have a large black bear population where we live, so I was surprised, but it was believable, especially after we saw the teeth marks and black hair on it. So I had bears on my mind a few days later when I was on a long run. The road i was on is closed to traffic (same road as above) and I was on a very isolated part of it. I saw a bear running through the field beside the road. On the other side of the road is a canal, which is the boundary of a swamp. As the bear hit the road it started to jog right at me. It was not running hard, but just casually jogging. I put down my camera when it got 50 yards away and started to blow the whistle on my running pack. The bear did not even look and just kept coming. I think started to do a bear dance, yelling and jumping up and down. I finally got its attention, but it kept coming. I upped the intensity of the bear dance and finally it looked again and decided to jump into the woods. I can only assume it swam the canal and was off into the swamp. The picture was zoomed in pretty far, as I put the camera away at one point to start getting the attention of the bear. I was up wind of it, so it did not smell me. Bears have poor eye sight, so my best bet was yelling at it. In the end that worked well. Below are some pics from the swing set.