Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bovine Belligerence, or Why I Hate Cows

Briones Regional Park
Pereira Trail- Briones Reservoir Viewpoint
(? 3?)

This run started out well. I parked on the road near the Bear Creek Staging Area entrance so as to avoid parking fees. I thought I'd do a nice hot run to get used to running in the warmer temperatures in preparation for Sunday. Great. The puppies were ecstatic to be out, I was going to do a new trail-- things were going to be marvelous.

I did see some cows skulking about off to the side as the trail turned away from paralleling Bear Creek Road, but I thought simply that it would lessen the bovine presence later on. I took the Pereira trail when it forked left from Deer Creek and ran up a really nice little steep section that immediately gave views of the surrounding hills. I thought "What great preparation for Ohlone!" and kept running. I even snapped the first picture on my way up-- its slightly blurry focus makes me think of an oil painting. It clearly illustrates spring's final moments, small patches of green quickly losing ground to dry grasses.
Right. Once on top of the ridge, I decided to head out to the Briones Overlook detour. The trail leads out to a point from whence one can see (huge shock) Briones Reservoir. There is a stone bench dedicated to Ivan Dickson, and the trail sign up to the overlook reads "Ivan Dickson Overlook," but it was marked "Briones Reservoir Overlook" on my map. Either way, lovely spot for a pause. As can be seen, the puppies enjoyed a quick rest as well. 

As we came back to Briones Crest, there was a cow standing in the middle of the road. I thought I'd just go over the hill (off the trail) to the left of the cow and continue on my merry way. Now, perhaps if I'd had a pair of the slightly funky, ever-so-stylish Dirty Girl Gaiters, this would not have been an issue. Or perhaps if I had been wearing longer pants. Gaiterless and shorts-clad, this was a horrible idea. Every single foxtail in existence jumped onto or into my shoes--enough that they crawled into my socks and began to hurt when I walked. Plus, there were a fair number of thistles lurking amongst the foxtails that managed to draw blood *and* make my legs itchy. Additionally, I have now taken the dog to emergency three times for foxtail issues; the last thing I want to do is take her in again. When we got to the top of the hill, I looked over and realized the trail and surrounding area was covered with cows. No getting around them. 

I'm sure someone will tell me at some point about how to deal with cows, how to get them to move when and if you want them to, but thus far, my methods have been unsuccessful-particularly with the dogs. Cows in Wildcat and now Briones do not like dogs and tend (in my experience, again) to run AT the dogs instead of away. I have been tempted to let the dogs go and see if instinct will do its work, but I think the EBRPD would not approve of amateur cow-herding. 

So in attempting to avoid the cows, we backtracked a bit and then started to take a short un-cowed connector trail to where Deer Creek met up with Briones Crest. All was well until we rounded the corner and found multiple cows on and around the trail AGAIN. At this point, I was done pulling nonsense out of my socks and I was done with cows, so I decided to turn around and run back... only to find the first group of cows had left their dark corner and were now scattered over the trail as well, necessitating a quick climb over a hill and through multiple foxtails once more. 

I might be back at Briones tomorrow though--it's probably the closest I can get to replicating Ohlone conditions without driving down the 680 AGAIN, and my run today didn't exactly last long enough to get used to the heat.

This was the start of a great run. Loved the overlook, hated the cows. Bring your dogs, have them off leash, but may you meet no cows....


Luciano said...

I totally understand you.

Every time I run on Wild Cat I wonder:
a) are they all cows? (the opening scene of 'City Slickers' keeps popping in my mind)
b) how fast can a cow run?

And then I walk warily among them. I don't have a dog so they usually look at me for a moment and go back grazing.

I pay special attention not to pass between a baby cow and an adult cow (possible mother, troubles).

Other than that I'm sorry I have no suggestions.

But thank you for the great work you're doing here.

usually in Italy, but running around East Bay in the summer.

Amy@RunnersLounge said...

The trail and your run sounds so wonderful - even with the stubborn cows. I have no tips about cows, at all, except to avoid them. :}