Sunday, November 21, 2010

Escaping the Predator...


This afternoon, I was chased by a moose. This has happened to me only two other times in all my years of living in Alaska. The first two times I was on a bike, and after the startled moose clomped after me for a few seconds, it gave up the chase.

This time, unfortunately, I was on skis.

Curtis and I have been going out skiing on the past few weekends, replacing our back country biking adventures with the exploration of the local trails. I spent quite a bit of time on those trails in high school, going out night after night as a member of a cross country skiing team. Curtis, on the other hand, was a much cooler breed than I, and subsequently was on a basketball team. Now that we are adults and trying to maintain our fitness despite our busy schedules, he has come to see the value of gliding around on skinny skis through the woods.

We arrived to a full parking lot and after putting our skis on ventured to a nice flat, straight area for Curtis to warm up. While our first several outings involved him gliding back and forth on long flat portions of trail while I completed loops close by, he has since gotten good enough to venture out on the "real trails". I skied behind him at least fifty feet as he ventured down the long, straight path. I was confused when he reached the end, turned off to the side to turn around, and didn't come back toward me. I was looking over to figure out what was going on when I spotted the problem: a moose, camped out, chowing on the tree branches, directly to my left about ten feet.

I did what I have always done in my years of countless moose encounters: I kept going. I maintained the same pace, planning on sweeping up around to where Curtis was standing without raising any concern for the moose to pay attention to me. For some reason, despite my meticulous composure, I was seen as a threat. The moose looked up at me. I looked over at Curtis, and then back at the moose--which was now starting to move toward me. I began to turn, to try and move onto a trail veering off the right, but as I did so the moose was clearly not happy with my decision and as I looked ahead I saw why.

There was a baby calf right in front of me.

"Awesome," I thought to myself, "I have just planted myself BETWEEN a moose and her calf." In the split second that all of this happened, I decided that my best bet was to head into the dense woods, where the trees might make it difficult for a moose to trample me for threatening her child. The problem? I still had long, skinny skis attached to my feet. Consequently I launched myself into a dense collection of trees and started pulling myself into the brush, skis dragging behind.

At this point I was desperately looking around for the moose, who I was quite sure was now going to trample my legs, which were hanging out of my protective collection of trees. Instead, the moose had made its way over to the calf, and the two were probably chatting about the spectacle of a person that had just dove head first into the woods with skis attached. After a couple minutes (or maybe twenty seconds) Curtis called out that I could probably come out. I backed myself out of the brush, tried to stand back up on my skis, and realized my legs were shaking. I looked behind me to see the moose just hanging out and chowing down on a different tree, the baby further down the hill.

We were safe.

The rest of the ski was pretty uneventful: quiet trails, a sunset sky, and best of all, no moose. And even though I was thoroughly freaked out by the whole experience, I can't help but love that those kinds of things happen. It's one of the things I love about living up here; it's a little more rugged, a little less civilized, a bit more adventurous.

Besides, after two weeks of fighting off illness with more than my fair share of coaching frustrations, it was nice to have a battle that could be fought face to face (or snout to ski as the case may be), with a distinct beginning and end.

Sometimes it's just nice to know that crawling off into the woods is a simple, acceptable escape for a problem.

(Now if only that fixed all my issues...)

1 comment:

  1. Holy.. COW! I mean moose! Seriously - I've heard advice on what to do if one encounters a bear, a snake, a rabid dog, etc. but I wouldn't know what to do if I met a moose!

    You are so my idol - seriously! I LOVE the idea of cross country skiing and did a bit a long, long time ago when my family owned a cabin, but haven't had any real experience. When we have great snow storms here in the city, I love to go out for walks and have, on a few occasions, encountered cross country skiers on the streets of Hoboken.

    And seriously, I thought they were 2 Legit 2 Quit - WAY cooler than walking me! xx