During my run I was greeted with huge mountain peaks to scale and some gorgeous sights to see. Since I didn’t know where I was going I decided to do an out and back course. About 4 miles into my run I saw the silhouette of a few animals ahead me on the trail. They looked a bit like Coyotes. In California, I was used to encountering coyotes on the trail. Coyotes don’t like people and in the past when I have encountered them on the trail they have kept their distance. When I move forward, they also move forward; keeping the space between us the same. In the past they had even abandoned the trail, leaving it to me.
Realizing I’m out on the trails, alone, 4 miles from camp and no one would likely hear me scream if a pack of wolves attacked me, I decided to let them have the trails for the day. I could pick up an extra 2 miles somewhere else. I wasn’t interested in pressing my luck when they weren’t moving for me. As I was deciding to turn back, I watched as one of them pranced up the hill and started making his way back towards me. He disappeared into the underbrush and while I couldn’t see him, I could hear him crashing around in the underbrush above me. This made me very nervous. Too nervous to turn around and RUN back, even thought that's what the hairs on the back of my neck were telling me to do. So, while still facing them, I started walking backwards slowly, keeping my eyes on the ones I could see the whole time. I remembered reading about how if you act weak/afraid, or if you run you will ignite their animal instinct and they will go after you. I wasn’t interested in any of that happening to me so with my heart beating out of my chest, I backed away slowly.
I took about 20 steps backwards and by this point the trail had curved around the mountain enough that they couldn’t see me anymore. I turned and started running back to camp as quickly as possible. I knew I had at least one wolf to my right and above me, and several behind me. As I continued around the curve of the mountain, I practically jumped when a wolf came around the corner, RUNNING RIGHT AT ME. Instinctively, I threw my hands up really big and yelled as loud as I could, “GET BACK!!!!!”
My heart raced. I had wolves behind me, one to the side and now one was in front of me/to the side! The wolf bared it’s teeth at me and jumped to the side, running off the path, down the mountain.
I was really worried now that they were going to come at me again, but as a pack. So I picked up the pace, scanning the ground quickly as I ran. I found two big sticks and scooped them up as I ran. I held one in each hand as I ran, feeling somewhat comforted by the fact that I sort of had a weapon now.
You bet your bottom dollar I negative split my run and made it back to camp far faster than I had made it out! Thankfully other than my initial wolf pack encounter my run back was completely uneventful. I had to find another route to run for my last two miles to get me to 10 miles but it’s okay. I lived to tell the tale of the day I met a pack of wolves out on the trail!
1. Run with friends.
2. Run with water/food. I always wear my camel back or bring water on trail runs, even if it’s just a few miles I have planned. You never know when you might make a bad turn and get lost. You never know how long you might be lost. Better to be prepared, just incase.
3. Run with a whistle. Whistles are louder and carry better than voices. They also use less energy. You’ll want to be able to notify others if you get injured, and they will easily be able to notice and locate the noise of a whistle. Many hydration packs have whistles attached as a part of the buckle. Check it out. You may have one already and you just never knew?
4. Make noise. Jingle your keys, or ring a bell or maybe play some music. You still want to be able to hear what might be coming at you, but you also want to be able to notify the wild life that you’re coming so they can get out of your way.
5. Read up on the local animals you should be on alert for in your local area and be aware of how professionals say to respond to them. You’ll feel more confident if you have a mental plan in place and know what to look for and how to respond if you encounter an animal.
6. Remember no matter what, you are strong. you are capable. You can do this!