A Slice of Paradise

Jim graduated from his 9 week program officially on Saturday. We chose the gravel road out at Fisherman’s Paradise as our running location. It’s a nice level mile and a half out and back on which we don’t have to watch for motor vehicles. I do carry my pepper spray because we have run into loose and sometimes aggressive dogs in the past.

Saturday was gray and drizzly and I ran without the iPod. I was able to enjoy hearing many spring birds as I jogged up Spring Creek Canyon. It’s rare when I can’t spot a Belted Kingfisher or two even while I am running and this day was no exception.

I jogged on the grassy shoulder so quietly that a couple of men taking a walk were startled when they noticed me. The one guy admitted he thought they were being approached by a bear and were goners. I chucked and said, “A very little bear.” It surprises me how many people who seem to enjoy walking in nature have a very present fear of being attacked by bears. I agree bears deserve respect and being aware of every situation is best. The central PA black bear does like the easy picking humans sometimes provide like garbage and maybe fish guts but they do not lie in wait and seek out humans to attack on the trail. I warned the men that yet another jogger would be approaching so they would not be startled again.

Jim was not far behind me and caught up to me as I checked that a friend’s letterbox had been re-hidden by the last finders. It seemed fine so I did not open it up and started running as my dear fellow came up. We were together for a bit but I poured it on for the downhill knowing that I would be stopping to swap out the log books on our own two letterboxes father down the trail.

Both had been closed properly and neither contained hitch hikers. Jim gave me a wave and ran on as I confirmed that the logs we had been planted over 5 years ago were finally full. The final finders had stamped their image and added a bonus sticker to the last pages of the logbooks. I feel badly that the next finders won’t be able to enjoy the many varied images of the many signatures stamps. Some letterboxer’s stamps have since been re-carved or totally changed so it was a lot of fun to see the old images that Archaeobirder, Mososo Kruppe and Janila used to use. The Loyalsock Skippers were the 4Rhines when they found it. Any future finders will have to make their own history in the new logbooks.

I realized that I had messed up the timing of my run a little bit by forgetting to turn off my watch at one point so I decided to not take too much stock in my total time running. Jim and I crossed paths one last time as he was heading back to the car and I chose to enjoy the total 1.7 miles distance out to a wonderful bend in Spring Creek. It used to be near a by a reminder that it is penitentiary property. Since winter, neither end of Spring Creek Canyon has had signage posting no trespassing so I am thinking it is a bit of a transition to allowing public access.

I didn’t want to push my luck jogging where it has been posted for so many years and I really didn’t want to run too much more than 5k total that day so I chose to turn around at the middle of the bend. Just as I was starting to turn I heard the piping of what had to be a large raptor and I looked up stream to see the huge dark wing span and white flash of the broad tail of a mature bald eagle. What a treat to have seen this bird. It was my reward for running just a little farther than I had intended when I set out.

The special encounter set my mind to wandering in the way I love the most when I get in the groove of running longer distances. All of the wildlife that I live so close to and the beauty of the day and the area filled my head. I was very tuned in to how alone I was. I estimated it was probably a mile to the closest fisherman, Jim or any other random person. I was fine with being alone and the worst of anything happening to me would just be part of my life. I hated carrying the pepper spray at that moment, I need to find a way to carry it without letting it induce fear or not carry it at all. I realized it felt hardly better than going out with a gun to protect myself from bears.

My pace was not bad for the return mile and I picked it up for the final tenth. I felt pretty good over all even with the stopping and starting in the middle of the run. Jim had a good graduation run too. The Blue White game had ended while we were on the trail and it was a nice place to get away from the craziness that local sporting events can stir up.

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