Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What's For Dinner?

In lazy, or uninspired, moments, this seems to be the question de rigueur for Liz and I.  After a morning of mini-golf and an afternoon of river swimming (note to self: googles make everything in the water better - it was great to be able to see the river from its perspective!) and ice-cream, I was not feeling an elaborate meal preparation.  A fun movie, an enormous cucumber and hummus, and I wasn't even feeling getting out for a run.

So it was a salad, green beans (picked from from Google Grandma's garden the day before), and noodles with olive oil and salt followed by a short little family walk to the entrance of Whittaker Woods here in North Conway.  My belly was stuffed, but, as the boys were going to be taking an extended bubble bath, I took the opportunity to get out for a couple of very easy miles.  At least that was the plan.

The first 0.75 miles, despite having several pounds of pasta in my belly, felt comfortable enough that I decided to go a bit further before turning around (my running our first two days in North Conway had been marked by a lot of UP and a lot of DOWN.  My legs, after 6 weeks of little training, were feeling it, hence the planned easy day).  Right at a mile, I was running up a slight hill to where I would be turning around when I discovered that the Katzman family had not been the only ones considering the question "What's for dinner?"

From the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game: What you should do if you encounter a black bear:

  • Make it aware of your presence;
  • Remove any sight or smell of food;
  • Stand your ground and slowly back away.
I bring up this official New Hampshire State checklist of how to safely enjoy wildlife because, right when I was about to turn around and head home for bed time, my planned easy run took a sudden shift.  There, a mere eight feet from me, was a large (nigh gargantuan!) black bear, considering, for itself, what to eat for an evening meal.  Let's consider how I did in regards to the experts' recommendations for such encounters:
  1. Make it aware of your presence: FAILED.  I was essentially snuggling with this fellow (or lady?) before either of us knew what was going on.
  2. Remove any sight or smell of food: NEEDS IMPROVEMENT.  Considering I had eaten a large meal about 10 minutes before, I probably smelled delicious (at least to bears.  I don't think I had showered for a couple of days, but had been in the river earlier . . .).  At least I was not wearing a shirt.
  3. Stand your ground and slowly back away. EPIC FAIL!  Apparently I lack the nerves to stare down an animal that has more strength in its small claw than I have in my entire body.  After a brief moment of eye contact and a very loud noise from my ursine friend (probably an equally loud noise from myself), flight beat fight, I turned, and high-tailed it from whence I came.  Clearly, I would not do well to write brochures regarding wildlife encounters.  
As I ran, back turned to ursus americanus, adrenaline coursing through my tired and stiff legs, I had no idea how fast I was moving, but it was faster than I have for some time.  Unfortunately, probably no more than 30 seconds after fleeing my impending mauling, I felt my dinner trying to make a second appearance.  At this point I began thinking, "I'm totally f'ed.  I can't keep running this hard.  I am what's for dinner tonight!"  To gauge how much longer I had before Smokey made a meal of me, I chanced a looked behind me.  There was no sign of my friend.  Perhaps he was stalking me from the brush.  I kept running hard until I hit the train tracks.  Still no large black shadow pursuing me.  I spent the rest of my run checking behind me every couple of seconds, until I made it back to our unit.  The boys were mildly interested in my wildlife encounter - covering each other with bubbles was much more engaging at the moment.  

Falling asleep last night, I kept thinking about this little run.  As a human, I was stoked - how many people have a chance to experience something like this (and, melodrama here to make it more exciting, live to tell about it?)?  As a runner, I realized I'm really slow - but have a whole new incentive to hit the track!  In the end, one thing is clear - I LOVE New Hampshire!


  1. Both you and the brochure are wrong.

    I found the correct course of action carved into an aspen in Utah a couple days ago: https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-Viz-HxRJSMo/UCFv__RLiDI/AAAAAAAADJw/0QXMGMKBspE/s720/IMG_1297%255B1%255D.JPG

  2. Hilarious - looks like it's time to start powerlifting as opposed to speed training!

  3. Good stuff Josh! Jesse and I were recently up north and ran into a moose. I'll never forgot the expression on his face when we turned the corner (jesse's face that is)!!!

  4. I was pretty surprised by the large head of the moose staring at me, 30-40' up the trail. Guess I should learn to react a little more assertively when with someone else.

    1. Yes, you should have never broken stride and chased him off into the woods like a real man. Kidding. My heart was through my chest!!

  5. Don't get me started on moose - hiking down from a climb with my dad and father-in-law (about 10 years ago), I was ~.25 miles ahead of them on a bunch a switch backs. A family coming up the trail spooked a moose which burst through the woods about 10' from me! It was so startled it started charging me. Just like with the bear, I turned and ran, and had to jump behind the largest tree I could find! Fortunately, moose don't seem that smart and this one just stopped, starred for a second and then continue to bushwhack up the trail! Again - I LOVE New Hampshire!