Friday, June 24, 2011

Sweaty, Bloody, Sanderling

We jumped off the road and into the shrubbery, ran, or rather fell, across a small creek and then ran/waded through hip-high murky water. A flock of Blue-winged Teal and Mallards circled overhead. The Swamp Run had begun.

The Swamp Run involves running across a couple miles of woods, creeks, and uhh...Swamp ending at the house of the high school Cross Country coach.

We swam across a fast-flowing creek, then came to a seemingly impenetrable stand of cattails, but we ran through them anyway. I exclaimed in surprise as my leg sank a couple feet in the mud as we tried to cross a stream. I managed to grab a nearby tree and hoist myself out of the slime.
We ran through a wet meadow of sedges interspersed with showy purple irises. Soon the purple was joined by the red of blood dripping from my knees as the the sharp sedges cut across my skin. 2 Sedge Wrens called.
We cut into some wet woods and were immediately met with a cheerful and malicious welcoming committee of Deer Flies and mosquitoes. I sprinted ahead, hoping to outrun the fierce motes. A sharp pain shot up my leg. I looked down and saw a barberry spine neatly implanted in my shin.
I had a dilemma: Run slowly and carefully to avoid the thorns and be eaten eaten alive, or, sprint ahead and have the skin torn off my legs by the abundant roses, Prickly-ashes, raspberries and barberries. I chose the latter.
The sound of Red-eyed vireos, Ovenbirds and pewees echoed through the forest, occasionally joined by my howls of pain as my skin turned to shreds.
I broke out of the forest and came to another swamp, with its robust population of Poison Sumac. I dodged between them, concentrating on trying to avoid the smooth shiny leaves. A Whoop of joy from behind me made me look up to see the road that was our destination. We hollered in exultation as we sprinted with new energy across a mowed lawn and up to the road.
I looked down at my knees, shins and ankles. They were unrecognizable--covered with scratches and bleeding freely. A friend exclaimed, "that was the most painful experience of my life." We all heartily agreed. However, I had added a species to my SWSA list: Sedge Wren.

Later, on seeing the state of of lower legs someone asked me why I had decided to partake in such a run. That's a good question.

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