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Our View: Female runner's scary confrontation underlines canyon caution

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The axiom on Auburn-area trails is that you should worry more about the two-legged animals than the four-legged ones.

That point hit home hard this week when a female runner was accosted on one of the trails near the confluence by two men who vaguely but boldly threatened a sexual assault, blocked her route and came equipped with a weapon. One of the men is reported to have been armed with a large hunting knife strapped to a leg.

The woman was able to escape a harrowing experience when a hiker - himself armed with a knife - provided protection that allowed her to return to her vehicle and alert authorities. A manhunt on the ground and in the air failed to find the two men on Tuesday. Auburn Police have increased patrols on the canyon rim in response to the report.

As far as Auburn Police are concerned - and we concur based on the absence of reports we’ve received and published - Tuesday’s incident was an isolated one.

But that doesn’t mean canyon visitors should have their guards down while enjoying the beauty and the recreation the trails offer.

A constant drumbeat for runners is to never run alone. Runners that do go solo should consider protection in the form of a leashed dog or pepper spray. Some runners even carry a knife or other sharp implement as a form of insurance on the trails.

And in any setting for a hike, walk, ride or run, be it urban or rural, trail users are wise to stay alert for unusual situations like the one the woman runner encountered Tuesday.

The escape route was blocked. But she didn’t challenge the danger and was lucky to find a hiker to provide protection before an unnerving confrontation in the canyon escalated into a potentially tragic outcome.

- The Auburn Journal