Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Moose Sightings II

In 1976 Terry and I took a long road trip to the west coast. We planned to stop and camp out of the back of our Datsun B210 at national parks and forests. Mount Rushmore and the Badlands of South Dakota were our first stops. Next was Grand Teton and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It was here we encountered the moose.

We camped in a grove of aspen trees in the Gros Ventre area. We decided to hike the trail around Jenny Lake and enjoy the wildflowers. About a third of the way around the north side of the lake, we came upon a single hiker walking the opposite direction. In her hands was an obviously torn up backpack. We stopped to talk and a park ranger—all 5’ 2”, blonde and blue-eyed—with a fire axe in her hand came up to us. The hiker had been met by a young grizzly bear a short distance up the trail. The hiker dropped her pack and walked away. The bear ate lunch out of the pack and then was gone when the hiker and ranger returned to the area. It should be clear the ranger assured us.

We walked a little faster and peered into the woods a bit farther. We slowed to enjoy the flowers—columbine, Dutchmen’s britches and the like—only when there was lots of open space. Near the end of the circuit, we crossed a foot bridge over the stream that flowed out of Jenny Lake. We enjoyed the view of the snow-capped Tetons reflected in the quiet waters of the lake.

A short walk and we crossed an open field with some shoulder high brush that edged the parking lot where we had left our car. We sat on the logs that marked the edge of the parking lot to unlace our boots and put on our sneakers. As I unlaced my first boot, I heard a gentle rustling in the field we had just crossed and looked up. Not 10 yards from the end of the trail—about 15 yards from where I sat—three moose moved in single file and at right angles to the trail from the south heading toward the lake. They moved slowly showing no concern over our presence. We watched for a few minutes before they disappeared in the alder thickets that ringed the lakeside.

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