As I’m currently shredding trails in Colorado, I thought I’d give you all the low down on five wild animals you never want to encounter, but might, on a run in the Centennial State:
Chances are if you run in the woods enough, you’ll see a bear. Just pray it sees you and heads the other way before you see it. If you see it first and can back away slowly and quietly, do. Rarely will a bear attack, but if you do meet Smokey in the woods, follow these tips:
- Start by making yourself look tall and shouting at the bear in a low voice. The bear isn’t going to know what you’re saying, but the idea is to get its attention and scare it away.
- Avoid looking it in the eye. (Apparently bears have a little bit of Mariah Carey in them.)
- Back away slowly. As tempting as it might be to just turn and run, no matter how fast you are, the bear is probably faster.
- Fight back, This is actually recommended by the State of Colorado. If a bear attacks, don’t run, fight back!! People have been known to ward off bears with sticks and stones. Err… Good luck and get more detailed tips on surviving bear encounters here.
Unlike their African counterparts, these big cats are known to stalk the mountains in Colorado. And although I like to run topless when it’s hot, if you’re running where mountain lions have been spotted, make sure you pack your tee. Should you come across a mountain lion in your path, make some noise and make yourself as big as possible. Then – this is your chance to act like a 12 year old at a Bieber concert – take off that tee you were going to leave at home and wave it above your head. Maintain eye contact to establish dominance, do not run and stay tall while throwing rocks or sticks at the animal to scare it off. Keep your distance and try to back away slowly. Following these tips during an unexpected animal encounter should be enough to scare it off while keeping you out of danger.
Generally harmless if you keep your distance, elk are large animals and have charged humans when they felt threatened. Males are especially dangerous during rutting season (mating season) where they are more likely to view you as a predator or rival, while females with offspring will charge in protection of their young. Therefore if you do encounter these animals, especially in late fall or early spring, remember this:
- Keep quiet- no need for loud noises or shirt waving with these creatures. Think of an elk as the head librarian… Keep it down.
- Back away. While this is an amazing animal experience, it may be best to leave the photos for another time – especially if the elk seems agitated.
When I’m out on the trail, these stealthy, slithery reptiles are easily the one thing that scares me the most. Not because I think I can take a bear in a stick fight, but because with snakes, it’s just a matter of putting your foot in the wrong place at the wrong time. If you’re going to be trail running in Colorado, snakes on the trail are unavoidable in the summer months so you’ll need to hit the trails when it’s cooler to truly stay completely out of their way. However, they are very sensitive to vibration so it’s possible they will feel you before you feel them and slither away! When you’re in snake territory, carry an anti-venom kit, and if you are bitten, try to make a note of what the snake looks like exactly. Also, try to remain calm and lower your heart rate to slow the process of the poison spreading.
I’m not talking about out of town’ers – I’m talking about people who just shouldn’t be out on trails. Usually sporting Gucci sunglasses and a nice pair of flip flops, they have paid an SUV to take them to the lake that you’ve just spent the last 2 hours running & hiking to.
Avoid at all costs.
It doesn’t hurt to run with a buddy out here either – just in case you have any wild animal encounters and need assistance getting back to civilization (or need someone to outrun once the bear is onto you).