Rachel and I were reading Colours the other day, a Canadian book showing colourful Canadian things, like a red Mountie jacket, for example. For the colour yellow, the author/illustrator, Marc Tetro, chose to draw a moose with yellow antlers, even though moose don’t really have yellow antlers. I guess he gets artistic license.
When I asked Rachel what the picture was she told me it was a deer. I told her that it wasn’t a deer—it was a moose. She asked me what a moose was, so I told her it was kind of a like a deer, only bigger, and its antlers were special because they were all filled in, like a spork instead of a fork. Then she asked me if I had ever seen a moose.
I was able to tell her that I have, and on more than one occasion.
The less exciting story is that there is a moose that lives up at the YW campground that our stake in Orem went to—Camp Shalom, I think. So I went on a two-mile hike with a sac lunch and we saw the moose off in the distance, nibbling grasses in a marsh.
It was a very tame encounter.
The more exciting story is from the time I hiked Mt. Assiniboine with my friends, the Grants/Lows.
They had planned a family trip, hiking down Mt. Assiniboine, for a weekend in June, I believe. Their youngest son, Greg, had chickened out a few weeks before they were set to go—he was only in grade one or two at the time—so Heather suggested that they invite me along in his place. They had already purchased his helicopter ticket up to the lodge and offered it to me at a subsidized price. I could hardly refuse.
Brother Grant is a rather experienced hiker and he gave in-depth instructions about what gear to bring and what conditions would be like on the mountain. He taught us how to blow emergency whistles; we discussed what the droppings of bears and wolves looked like, other signs that such animals were around, and what to do if we encountered them; we covered avalanche safety and the risk of frost bite (even though we’d be hiking in June); and discussed basic first aid. We even did a pre-hike the weekend before we left since we, Heather, Graham, Helen, and I—the teenagers—would be doing the last half of the trail by ourselves while Brother and Sister Grant stayed on the mountain for an extra day.
We hiked from the trail end to the Bryant Creek Bridge and then back so that we would know our way. It was a beautiful hike. Spring was just beginning to blossom, so although we were squelching through mud half the time, we were able to enjoy the wild flowers.
Greg had come on the pre-hike with us, and the teenagers had again broken away from our supervising adults, dragging Greg with us. We played games and raced along the way, reaching the bridge well before the parents did. And when they finally caught up with us, we were ready to take off to the car. Brother Grant challenged us to go slowly and see how many kinds of wild flowers we could identify. So we went quickly and counted up several species. Greg was lagging behind us and wanted us to slow down, although he didn’t want to walk as slowly as his parents. We made up a chant to encourage him to go faster.
Come on, Greg! We’re almost there!
If you don’t hurry up you’ll be eaten by a bear!
It was very effective at getting him to pick up his pace since grizzly bear encounters were a real threat in the area.
When we had almost reached the parking lot we all froze. We hadn’t been paying attention to our surroundings any more, having already identified numerous flowers and plants, and instead were focused on goofing off and taunting Greg. Suddenly we found ourselves surrounded by a herd of moose, all munching happily.
Moose are generally solitary creatures, so we were surprised to have stumbled upon so many all at once. There were probably about seven adults, both bull and cow, and a few calves in their group. We were more than a little nervous about aggravating them since moose attack humans more often than bears and wolves, combined.*
Immediately silent, we did our best not to spook them , nervously tiptoeing our way through the herd, admiring their behemothic proportions with wide eyes as we went.
We were close enough to see breath steaming out of their noses, close enough to see our reflections in their eyes, close enough to touch them, had we wanted.
And I can tell you: their antlers weren’t yellow.
* It’s true. Wikipedia says so.