The good news is, this is one of my best running stories.
Last week I went for my usual run after work in the mountains. I was going to do a big loop up one canyon and over the back of the mountain to the other canyon then back over to where I started, so I ran up one canyon and joined with the trail to start over to the other. However, I didn't get too far before the trail disappeared. I debated going farther anyway and just bushwhacking it through the mountains, but I had started feeling sick that day and figured I should head back down the canyon instead of trying for the big loop.
Well, I turned back around and crossed a stream. At that point I realized I had missed the real trail and that's why the one I was on disappeared, but since I was sickish I decided to just keep going and get down the canyon.
I ran for maybe a mile, a mile on a trail I had run a thousand times before without any glitches or strange encounters when SUDDENLY I saw a huge creature occupying the entire trail like five feet in front of me!!
I screamed a huge scream and had a billion thoughts in a milisecond, something like this: "AA! A skunk! No.. not a skunk. Procupine! Too big! A weasel! Weasel? No, what are those things called? Should I pepper spray it? Didn't I read a book about these in Mrs. Keating's class? That was a loud scream! I'm a ninny!"
I was just staring down this guy (more like he was staring down me) and it wasn't until I had taken in his 2 foot width and his poky fur and his striped head and his freaking 3 inch long claws and snarling nose that I remembered his type are called badgers!!! IT WAS A BADGER!
We were both frozen, but I was freaking out and he looked pretty confidently about to attack me. He was sniffing and hissing and he was seriously huge. He looked like a huge wad of carpet or something. I was trying to decide if I should turn back and take the huge loop anyway even though I was feeling sick so I wouldn't have to try and pass him or if pepper spray would have positive or negative consequences or why I hadn't brought my camera so I could take a picture! And then all of a sudden he just shuffled his little carpetbag body backwards and then right off the trail into the bushes!
(this is just a google image, but he looked pretty much exactly like this, barred fangs and all!)
Oh man. I was nervous to run past him in case he sprung out at me like a ferocious lion but I heard him rustling deeper in the bushes and so I decided to chance it! Even though it was a narrow trail sloping off a cliff into a river, I flew down it like a wild indian!
It was crazy! Afterwards I just couldn't believe that I saw a badger or that there even are such things in the mountains of Utah because I have never seen one in all my years of Utah mountains. But I went home and researched them and I don't know what this guy was doing because they are usually nocturnal and if they come out during the day at all, it is in the early morning. Bottom line is, they are fierce. Just look at these guys:
So the badger news is, a) I FREAKED out. I don't know what will happen if I ever see a cougar (heaven forbid), but my reaction to a badger was pretty dramatic b) I did not carry out any of my heoric plans that I've crafted during hours of running in the mountains in case I need to defend myself. I totally froze c) Hollywood and Disney and that silly book we read in Mrs. Keating's class seem to think that badgers are friendly, nice, cuddly little guys but they are NOT. d) If I didn't even entertain the idea of a badger and one showed up, what other crazy creatures are lurking in the mountains!?
But, more good news, a) he was apparently more frightened of me than I was of him b) I think I would've reacted ok if I needed to c) I made it home fine and am now an expert on badgers.
Onto more running! (after I am not sick anymore because I have had a fever since this run! Sad! But I am running 50 miles in 6 weeks!)