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The Moose in Lamb's Canyon

posted by Jeff Bilsky at
on Thursday, August 25, 2011 

In need of an adventure, I took to the mountains this evening. Lamb's Canyon is one of my favorite places to go hiking. It is mainly a narrow chute of a trail winding in a fairly steep manner up to a western overlook. The trail is flanked by the canyon waters on one side and a steep incline on the other. Aspens and conifers abound and for the most part, hikers do not. It's exactly the kind of place I like to go when I'm looking to do some thinking or unwind or just get away for a bit. The trail is clearly used by the creatures of the woods as well; specifically moose tracks are all over it. In addition to the moose and mule deer I've seen in this canyon the bird life is great. Owls, Thrushes, Towhees, Flycatchers, Kinglets, Warblers, Nuthatches, Woodpeckers, Vireos and the list goes on. On this particular evening, I wasn't necessarily expecting to see much. By the sound of it (or lack thereof) the Thrushes have for the most part vacated. This is unfortunate because the sound of singing thrushes is truly unparalleled in my opinion. Highlights, however, did include several Golden-crowned Kinglets, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Mountain Chickadees, a Broad-tailed Hummingbird gorging for an imminent migration, a Common Nighthawk at the summit at dusk, a Cooper's Hawk perched in a dead conifer and a handful of Macgillivray's Warblers and Dark-eyed Juncos. I reached the summit right around sunset, knowing I'd have a long, dark hike if I lingered long but I couldn't help myself. As I struck down the mountain after snapping a few pics, the light began to disappear and before I knew it I was reaching for my small flashlight. There really is nothing like being alone in the dark in the mountains knowing no one is around. It's exhilarating and terrifying but you sure know you're alive. I knew I'd run into a moose at some point, I just hoped it wouldn't be in the trail since they rarely get out of your way when they've picked a spot. Sure enough, as I came around a bend I heard a tremendous crashing in the woods to my left. There is nothing subtle about a moose; when they move, they crunch and crush. My small flashlight found the eyes staring at me. I issued a quick "hello, how you doing, just passing through" and bolted past the moose and down the trail keenly aware that moose attack more people than bears and wolves combined. Of course I still had quite a bit of hiking to do to get back to my car and knew there could easily be another moose or who knows what else. So began the "Hey Moose, Hey Bear, Hey Lion Hey Hey Hey" for what seemed an eternity. As an amusing aside, I noticed that the way I called it out sounded very much like a vendor at a baseball game: "Moose Moose Moose, Hey Hey Hey Get Your Moose Here".

Perhaps this whole adventure was foolhardy but I'm not sure life is meant for anything else.

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Blogger Susan said...

Awesome post Jeff. Makes me want to go hiking. I went owling one night with a group Bryant Olsen led and I needed to get back early, so I hiked down alone in the dark. After a bit I started thinking why the hell did I leave the group? I started talking out loud, not because I was afraid of moose,(maybe I should have been), but I kept thinking I was going to get eaten by a Mountain Lion. I finally met up with a fellow hiker who kindly chatted with me on the way down - I was never so glad to see someone.

August 26, 2011 at 6:41 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Awesome! I'm heading up to the Monte Cristo range with the family this weekend for some camping and hopefully some good birds. Time to get away from the heat of the valley.

August 26, 2011 at 8:30 AM  
Blogger Stephanie Greenwood said...

Man after my own heart! Can't tell you how many times I've trekked down Mueller Park trail after sunset, iPhone as my only light, bear spray cocked and ready in hand. Love what you've written here.

I also agree that there is nothing like the song of thrushes filling the canyon. They left my beloved trail a couple weeks ago, much to my dismay. However, I am looking forward to getting to know new fall migrants, fleeting as they are, and a mix of wintering birds at my feeder.

August 26, 2011 at 12:46 PM  
Blogger Jeff Bilsky said...

Thanks for the comments everyone. I'm hoping to get out again soon - maybe to the Uintas to look for Ptarmigans labor day weekend. Hopefully will have some good stories to share.

August 29, 2011 at 4:57 PM  

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