One minute we were happily hiking along a narrow lakeside trail in Glacier National Park, when eagle eye David spotted a Mama Moose. The next minute Joe was being charged by a MOOSE! That there are any photos at all attest to the fact that, obviously, we all lived through the encounter. What happened?
Rangers always emphasize NEVER NEVER NEVER get between any wild animal and its babies. But apparently the memo didn’t get to BIG Mama Moose, happily munching willows on one side of the trail, leaving her twin baby moose(s) (meece?) barely visible laying in the thick tall grass on the other side. Click here for some Moose Hiking Safety Tips.
Stealth hiking so as not to disturb Mama Moose, apparently we startled one of the two twins (who, despite being a “baby” moose, was as big as one of Neydie’s horses!). Baby Moose “charged” at Joe, who was leading the group at the time. Joe had his moose spray (bear spray) out, but was just getting ready to jump off the left side of the trail when Baby Moose veered right, crashing into the underbrush away from our group.
Meanwhile, while Joe was trying to keep out of the way of Baby Moose, the rest of us were keeping an eye on BIG Mama Moose behind us. Fearing a charge to defend her babies the next second, apparently she decided we were no threat and Baby Moose could take care of himself as she continued to munch on those yummy willows.
The other “twin” baby moose never did more than raise its head, give us a sideways glance and go back to snoozing.
Too close for comfort, but what did we do wrong? Nothing that we can figure. We were returning from hiking to Grinnell Glacier chatting amongst ourselves, when David, who was the last in our single file of four, spotted the Mama Moose. It took a few minutes for me to actually spot Mama Moose, who was maybe only 6-10 feet off the trail to the left. We discussed that rangers always say moose can’t see well, so if you can get behind a tree and pretend to be invisible, they may leave you alone.
With this moose, the 4 of us stopped dead in our tracks and immediately started whispering (not sure why…). We decided our best strategy since the moose didn’t seem to care that we were there, was to slowly move past and if she made a move hide behind trees on the other side of the trail.
Of course, this was BEFORE we knew that there were two twin baby moose(s) sleeping in that grove of trees on the other side of the trail! By the time the baby moose got up and ran (charged?) up the trail toward Joe, the other three of us froze. We were almost directly beside the other baby moose who was ignoring us and Mama Moose was behind, still munching with an eye to what was happening.
What felt like hours was probably only seconds until the coast was clear and we continued our hike, a bit shaken and talking nonstop about our close moose encounter.
Be sure to know what to do if you encounter wildlife on the trail – see the link above on Moose safety recommendations! Best bet is to ask a ranger before you begin a hike – if I see a XYZ, what should I do? Anyone have moose encounter comments to share? Please leave a comment! Cheers! Jan