I am missing the trails somewhat, since I have been doing some of my runs as commutes, either to work or to run major errands twice a week. Although I can run on grass for many of those miles, the routes I have traveled have not been in the woods, have been right next to the noisy roads, and are largely devoid of wildlife. Each time that I look forward to my next trail run, however, I remember an experience I had a few weeks ago while doing a fast pace on a flat section of dirt trail. It has me looking forward to the next amazing encounter with whatever nature sends my way.
A few weeks ago I was running a flat section of trail next to a creek when a Red-tailed Hawk came my way. So what? This hawk was using the trail. It was flying directly toward me down a straight, one hundred meter long stretch of limbless flight path. Approximately fifteen feet from me the hawk veered sharply away, shot through a mass of limbs and tree trunks, then landed about ten feet off the bank of the creek twenty feet from the trail. In hindsight it reminds me of those incredible photographs of owls in flight, either head-on or from the side, looking like a mask, a bullet, or an aircraft wing. I only wish I had looked up sooner so that I could have taken it all in. I would have loved seeing where the hawk began its flight. What a view of such a magnificent bird–head on, like you would see when a falconer has you standing next to him/her as the raptor swoops in to land!
Now when I head to the trails I keep hoping for a similar experience. I figure that the only birds I’ll see head-on like that will be small, non-raptors, or maybe a Cooper’s Hawk, but you never know. Maybe the deer will prance around me again soon, like they have before, a new generation curious about the strange human who bounds through the grass and says “hey deer” in quiet, soothing tones when they stop and stare. Trails are calling.