Today I was charged by a moose. Not a bluff, a full blown charge by a Momma Moose. It was, by far, the sketchiest moment of my life. At no point did I feel in control. And not only did I put my own life in danger, but I also put my dog, Gregor’s, life in danger. Which is another level of guilt and stress that I’ve never felt before. This is the story of what happened.
Gregor and I headed out onto the trail for our normal run. It hasn’t snowed in days, so the trail is packed down tightly, and I was running in my new Salomon Speedcross 4s that my parents got me for Christmas. I planned for a 4 mile loop on lost prospector and free mason. At the turnaround, near the town overlook, I headed up onto the Lost Prospector trail. Gregor was doing great, running ahead by 10 yards and then would wait for me to catch up. Everything was going normal until I noticed something ahead.
Gregor was stopped, but not looking back towards me to catch up. He was sitting in the middle of the trail, looking ahead, at something. It was a big. A dark object blocked the trail ahead. It was a moose. I quickly stopped in my tracks and feverishly called Gregor back to me. I was about 20yards from the moose when I Gregor returned to me. Holding onto his collar, I quickly put him back on his leash. Making loads of noise, I made sure the moose knew we were there and not a threat. At this point, I also realized the moose was a cow, and that cow also had her calf right behind her.
Being lazy, and not wanting to run the 3 miles back the way we came, I figured I could go up and around the moose. Between the moose and us was a fork in the trail that turned up onto the Masonic trail. Having run into, and ridden up on many moose this summer and fall, it seemed like just another run-in. But it wasn’t. Gregor and I slowly walked up on the trail to pass them, and as I made contact with the cow, she backed up and ran up onto the Masonic trail we were standing. At this point, I realized we might not be getting out of this one so easily.
I started walking backward down the trail, with Gregor’s leash held tight, still facing the moose. Back on the Lost Prospector trail, I felt safe to turn around and head back down the trail we had been running on. As I turned my head, I simultaneously heard the first pounding sound of hooves. I looked back over my shoulder and thats when I saw her. A moose, standing seven feet tall, galloping full steam towards me. I screamed, I don’t remember what said, but I remember screaming. Probably something like “No, Moose!” or “Run Gregor!”, but I’m pretty sure was just nonsense.
That’s when I took my first stride. I started sprinting. I only made it probably 4 strides before she closed the gap between us. She was probably within only 5 feet of me when I made my decision. I jumped down, off the side of the trail, down the hill into the bush below us. I had no idea if I was making the right move, or if the moose was just going to keep following me and catch me after I jumped. I remember pulling as hard as I could on Gregor’s leash to get him off the trail with me. I jumped down, 8 feet off the trail. I was tangled in the branches of tiny aspen trees and other bushes, and completely immobilized. The snow, off the trail was deep, and I couldn’t move. In the process, Gregor landed down into the snow right near me. The look in his eyes was shear terror. I felt so scared for him, because I knew how petrified I was at that moment when I looked back up hill and saw the moose. She was still sanding there, right where I jumped off the trail, stalking us with those large piercing eyes.
In an act of defending their young, a moose will stomp and kill anything that they feel is a threat. I had known that, but honestly never believed it. All my other moose experiences had been so benign. They always ran off or just ignored me on the trail. But on that day, the look in that moose’s eyes, as it chased me down the trail, showed it had one thing on her mind. Defend her calf at all costs from all and any threats. And we were that threat.
Making a quick decision, I felt that the moose no longer thought we were a threat, and decided we could move again. But it still stood above us on the trail, making any plan to retreat down the same trail impossible. Our only option was to bushwhack, down the side of the hill. Not usually a problem, except for the fact that his is December, and there is knee deep snow all over the hill. At first, Gregor and I were forced to post-hole through the bush. Eventually, we were able to follow deer tracks down the hill until it met up with the lower portion of the Free Mason trail.
Other than frozen legs, and a completely shaken nervous system, Gregor and I made it out unscathed. An experience, neither of us, will ever forget. And it goes to show you, never mess with mother nature, nor a mother moose next to her calf. A bit of learning I’ll be sure never to forget again.
Following up after I wrote this post the day of the incident.
That evening, I did not feel remotely normal. I was legitimately traumatized. It was a feeling I had never experienced in my life. In an effort to feel “safe” and “normal” again, my girlfriend suggested I write this experience down. Reliving it in words, surprisingly enough, helped tremendously. It was, what I believe, a way to achieve closure. Take it for what its worth.