Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Glowing Eyes

What do you do when you're running in the wee hours of the morning and see this...

Or this...

I've come quite accustomed to seeing glowing eyes this fall and winter as most of my runs have been in the dark.  But lately, the glowing eyes on the trails I run have multiplied.

This is due to HR letting about 50 cows graze the Backcountry.  They posted this on Facebook last week:

ATTENTION TRAIL USERS...We will be grazing the Highlands Point Trail in the HRCA Backcountry Wilderness Area beginning this week. Cows can be expected to be in this area through the middle of December. Do not approach or harass the cows. There are no bulls or calves, just peaceful, happy cows. They will avoid you. Should one be in the middle of the trail simply give them your best cowboy yell and wave your hands to get them moving.  Grazing is beneficial to the grasses and habitat and is a fantastic fire mitigation tool.

Brought the camera on my 5 AM run today.

I'm comfortable with seeing the glow of deer or coyote eyes as they scamper away from me.  But stick several 500+ lb. beasts right next to the trail and it's very nerve-racking.  I have not partaken in cow harassment, but I'm certainly approaching them with waving hands.  A few haven't budged and I had to pass within feet of these massive creatures!  I'd be a pancake if they ganged up and charged.

This is a "lightened" version of the two eyes above.

This is the best I could get showing them right on the edge of the trail.

I understand the part about the grazing being good for the land due to fire mitigation.  But is it really worth it?  Almost every stretch of trail now looks like the one below.  Not to mention all the trampled vegetation and broken branches I've seen since this started.

Cow patties....lots of patties.

For perspective, this pile is the size of a large pizza and 5" high.
It looks like I've got about two more weeks to enjoy my mornings with these "peaceful, happy cows."  I'm guessing the piles on the trails are going to last much longer than that.


  1. Ha ha. best blog yet. Thats hilarious...but I feel ya on that one. They might be nice but cash potentially cause some damage. Although I want to see a pic if you waving and screaming like a cowboy. ;)

  2. Funny. It does drive me a bit nuts how we get all over folks about "leave no trace" and dog crap but this and horse crap are okay.

  3. Can we expect a 20 Mile Cow Tipping Social Run in the future?

  4. "Happy" cows. Love it. I wonder what a cow having a bad day looks like by comparison. If they only knew what was going to happen after the fattened up on that fine HR backcountry forage....

  5. A different type of pancake run.

    I always think it's funny when those half-ton beasts scamper away from me, when -- as you say -- they could easily trample me.

    I almost got body-checked by a horse at White Ranch that moved sideways into me as I ran by. I'm pretty sure it was intentional, trying to make a point maybe? I now run wider than I used to!

  6. I have had close encounters with bears, snakes, and a bull elk - but the mama cow with a calf was the worst. That thing just would not let me by. I couldn't go around, and I couldn't go back. Our standoff lasted about 20 minutes (seemed like all night) while I froze in the cold and dark. Need to carry an air horn or something...

  7. James - I try to scare them away...I'm pretty sure you'd try to chase one down and hop on its back!

    GZ - I wonder the same thing. I might do a little trail volunteer work soon by taking a shovel on my next run after the snow melts.

    Jaime - C'mon down! We could have a moo-ving experience one of these nights.

    Jim - Don't "happy" cows come from California?

    Mtnrunner2 - I could easily see one of those cows deciding she'd had enough of me scaring her away and take matters into her own hooves. They're actually pretty fast too.

    Chris - Yikes! I need to hear about your other encounters some day!