Saturday, May 30, 2009

My Turn for a Moose

I hope our blog followers have had a chance to read Howie’s blog about Uninvited Guests at the Trail Running Series. This Thursday was my turn to run into a moose on the course.

I started my run after 6:30 pm, having worked the Great Glen retail counter until 6. I thought I might see a moose on Dugway, since I heard a loud crack in the woods as I started up the hill. But . . . no. I continued on, feeling like I was the only one out on the trail system at that time of the evening.

I made the turn into the short singletrack off upper Libby Trace, the one we call Sven’s Chase. Right there in the middle of the singletrack, before it turns the corner, was a moose. I clapped my hands and called out “go, go, shoo, shoo”. The moose, which had been facing forward away from me, turned sideways to look at who was making all the fuss. I shook my hands in the air and called out “go, GO” again. I was stopped dead in my tracks.

A part of me really just wanted to stop and watch this big, wild creature. I always think it is a gift to get to see such animals in the wild. On the other hand, I was doing my trail race, and was very aware that the seconds were continuing to tick by.

I tried again to get it to move along. The moose had no interest in this. It actually took a step towards me, which made me a little more concerned. As docile as these creatures look, I know they can charge, and angering this moose was not in my best interest. I took what seemed the only reasonable option—retreat back to Libby Trace. I was willing to accept an asterisk after my name for running an altered path, rather than try to get by the moose.

I finished the course without further moose meetings. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the experience and I never regained my usual race focus. But it was quite a treat seeing the moose, and the trails belong to the animals at least as much as they do to me. I wonder who will experience the next moose sighting on their Thursday afternoon run?

~ Sue

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ready to Open This Weekend

Great Glen Trails will open for the summer season on Saturday, May 23 at 10:00am for paddling, biking, trail running, Nordic walking and bird watching. Great Glen Trails will be open weekends only through June 6.

The trail system will be open and the bike shop will have rentals available for adults and children, including trailers and trail-a-bikes, so the entire family can enjoy a day on the trails.

For those looking to get out on the water, paddling trips will also be available for the first time this season. Great Glen Trails’ guided paddling trips tour the Androscoggin River and offer fine wildlife viewing opportunities that often include moose, osprey and bald eagles. Both full day and half day trips will be available, please call ahead for reservations.

Great Glen Outfitters will also be open offering everything a family needs to enjoy a full day on the trails from energy bars and sunscreen to cycling apparel and backpacks.

Already underway is the Salomon Spring Trail Running Series presented by Smartwool. This weekly series is held on Thursdays with courses for runners and walkers of all ages and abilities.

Early season operating hours are in effect and Great Glen Trails will be open weekends only through June 6. Daily operations begin that day.

Click here for our operating schedule.

See you this weekend.

- Ryan

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Univited guests enter Spring Trail Running Series

I love the start of the spring trail running series at Great Glen. It provides a target to motivate me to get out and start running during the time when we're coming off the ski season and the weather isn't always all that inviting for trail running. Typically we start training by running the local roads while the trails dry out. But the opening afternoon of the Series usually means that many of the single tracks in the woods as well as all of the gravel trails at GGT are now ready.

So today was the opening day. And boy do I really love it when it's raining and windy and cold like it was this afternoon. No, really - I'd sooo much rather run in chilly temps than the heat. So this was the optimum conditions for me in my currently poor running condition. Eli has set up a particularly devious course for this spring. The first two miles are basically uphill, ok maybe not that bad but you do end up on top of Dugway at the two mile marker then have 1.5 miles left. It's a challenge for me to leave a little something so I'm not totally wiped out by the time I get to the "summit". Sue and I had reconned the course a couple of days ago and that helped.

But where I really lost time, and the reason I know I can do better next week, was on the last piece of single track coming back down onto Dragon Corridor. I'm paying a lot of attention to each footfall with all the roots you encounter here so when I looked up and saw the entire rear end of momma moose coming up fast I had to set the brakes hard! Neither she nor her little one in front had seen, heard or smelled me coming....yikes! "Hey Moosies!" I yell, yes, in northern NH the plural of moose is moosies. That got her to look around but not move. Damn. So I advanced on her and the little one takes off down to Dragon and the gravel surface, slowly followed by Mom. I cut down to the gravel while Mom continues down the single track that now parallels the gravel. Bad move. She senses that I'm about to pass her and move up on her little one, which I was of course - this is a race after all and they're holding me up. So she bolts along snorting with her ears back to cut me off then finally they both veer off into the woods. "See ya girls", and away I go.

Very cool beginning to the trail running season.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wood Ducks at Great Glen!

Please understand that these are my very favorite ducks. They (I’m speaking of the males really, who, like most birds, are the more colorful of the two sexes) are beautiful, with fine, distinctive white lines apportioning their heads into different sections. Their eyes are bright red, sides and tops of head shades of green and purple, a multicolored beak with red-orange, white and black. Dark blue is the color of one set of feathers that lay along their sides. (Yes, I’ve yet to learn the technical names for bird anatomy. . . .) Other colors on them include gray, rich brown and a buff white. They really are striking.

I’ve only seen one wood duck before. It was several years ago during a paddling trip with customers on the Magallaway River above Errol, NH. Our trip took us down a flatwater section of the river to Lake Umbagog, a common destination for Great Glen’s full day public paddling trips. (Most of our trips go in and out the Androscoggin River to Umbagog, but sometimes we can accommodate special requests for an alternative route.)
On that trip a few of us saw the pretty wood duck swimming close to the shoreline.

Despite reading their name on lists of birds I might see in a number of areas I’ve visited, and making numerous trips to the Umbagog Wildlife Refuge every summer, I haven’t seen another wood duck since. Until today! And at Great Glen, which in many ways, I think of as home.

I was finishing up a run on our trails. I was on the lower end of Dragon Corridor, where it passes by the Peabody River and a wetland area created by our busy beaver population. Some birds in the water caught my eye. I stopped. Wood ducks--a pair. The male made a little high-pitched call, and they took to the air. But I had gotten a clear enough view to be sure of their identification, and to enjoy their beauty.

Wonder what I’ll come across on the trails next time?

--Sue W