Move over, Kevin Costner now there's something spandexier.
Yesterday's weather brought temps in the forties, occasional hail-showers, and periodic bursts of rain so my original plan of doing two laps around the Thrilla in Woodinvilla course on my single-speed was called off. Instead, I managed to sneak an hour of relatively dry, sunny riding in on the trails on Snoqualmie Ridge.
This time, however, I decided to go exploring and see where the new woodchip trails leading off into the Deer Park neighborhood lead. The answer was not very far. Right now the new trails pretty much just lead around a couple retention ponds and dead-end where houses are going up, but I have faith that in a year's time these trails will make for a nice addition to the existing system.
Anyway, as I was making a right-hand turn back onto the trail near the business park, I spotted a coyote atop the berm alongside the trail. At first it was just trotting along, then as I started to ride closer to it, it sped up. The little bugger dropped off the berm towards me and was actually keeping pace with me, about 5 yards to my left. So I kept on riding and the coyote ran practically right next to me for about 40 yards before finally turning on the speed and crossing the trail in front of me. From there, it disappeared into the woods and I didn't see it again.
So, for the next twenty minutes or so I was having an internal debate about whether or not to mention the sighting on the neighborhood message board. Even though people choose to come out into the foothills and live in such close proximity to wildlife, many launch into hysterics whenever there is a bear/cougar/coyote sighting in the area. My opinion on the matter is simple: take reasonable measures to protect yourselves, your children, and your pets when out of doors and enjoy where you live. If you still don't feel safe, move closer to the city. But whatever you do, don't demonize the animals we chose to live near.
Every trailhead in the neighborhood (almost every one of them in the region in fact) has signs warning of bears and cougars and sightings are made public in the local newspapers and in occasional public service announcements, so nobody can claim they didn't know these animals are here. Everyone is aware of the very small risk of an encounter when playing in the woods, or going hiking, or walking the dogs. People with cats and small dogs have to know that there is the chance that if they allow their animals to roam free, especially at night, they may be eaten. And the same with small children. But this is all very unlikely. Far more likely is to have an experience like I had, where you get lucky enough to spot the animal and coincidence has you both headed in the same direction. And instead of a glimmer of an animal from far away, you get five good seconds of up close "interaction".
I couldn't feel my fingertips and my feet were getting pretty cold, but getting to ride alongside a running coyote for those few short seconds made me glad to have gone for a ride.
On my way back past the business park twenty minutes later, I spotted an older lady walking with her dog. It was a tiny beagle, either very old or very young I couldn't tell, and it was off-leash. She was less than 1/4 mile from where I saw the coyote so, naturally, I told her about it. She appreciated the tip and said that she was on her way back home. She scooped up the dog though and uttered a comment about wanting to keep her little one around for a while. She didn't act surprised at the news or seem all that concerned. Instead, she just put the dog on a leash and kept on a walking. As she should...