Today was the western part of my loop through the San Juans. It was amazing alpine country all the way, but what made it special was the wildlife. In the morning, I scared off a herd of elk with a huge male leading the way. They ran off across a river valley and ran into another herd, also with a big male. They had a fight which had me tripping over my feet as I tried to watch the spectacle and walk. Eventually one of them won and the other went off by itself. Very cool.
Then, at the end of the day, I was climbing up a very narrow river valley, and came across a medium sized male moose. He was just watching me from about 30 feet away, so I kept walking up the trail. I lost sight of him as I navigated through some head high willow thickets, so I was a bit nervous. Sure enough I came out and now he was 20 feet away. Again, I just kept walking by hoping he’d just stay put. I climbed up to where the valley leveled out before a pass, and while I was catching my breath, he came up the river and walked past me, across the trail and out of sight. I waited a bit, then headed up towards the pass, and saw him below me standing in a pond, just hanging out I guess. As I climbed over the last rise of the pass, I looked back and could see him silhouetted in front of some big mountains, still following me!
I figure that I climbed that pass way faster with the moose around than I would have without. Once I started coming down the other side, I really moved due to fading daylight and wanting to put some space between me and the moose. I’m now in bed, listening to elks bugling and trying NOT to imagine a moose plowing over my tent.
Not working so far.
Date: Sept 26, 2011
Daily Distance: 28.3 miles
Trip Distance: 1824.3 miles