Friday, September 24, 2010

Close Encounter of the Moose Kind

Anchorage is the type of city that incorporates a lot of park land and the wildlife that come with that. You really can see eagles, foxes, the occasional bear, and yes, moose within city limits. We all teach our kids how to avoid and deal with moose the same way we teach them to look both ways before crossing the street. Generally, we just live our lives around them. I once actually called in to work because a moose was grazing my tree and standing between me and my car. I would be to work when it left. In Anchorage this is considered an acceptable excuse.

So now we get to today’s story. The bike path I ride to work runs by a lake in a small valley. You ride down one side and up the other. Today this path held a surprise for me as a bull moose was waiting at the bottom of the hill. Now, moose are big. They are not deer-sized. When drivers hit moose on the road the car is totaled and the driver does not always survive. Unfortunately, I could not see him from the top before I went down. So I am zipping down the hill and about halfway down he sort of shuffles out RIGHT NEXT TO THE BIKE PATH and now I can see him. It is a little too late to stop and turn around as I am blasting down the hill at what now feels like MACH 4.

I decide to continue past him AS FAST AS I CAN hoping he will not charge. They don’t look it, but moose are fast and they can run you down. As I get close to Mr. Moose he startles and does a little scaredy-dance that brings him even closer. This brings him about a foot or so from me and I pass him and I am SCARED TO DEATH that he is going to starting kicking out at me. I will be in the newspaper, “local woman is trampled by moose while commuting on bike trail.” Debates will rage in the press about who has more right to the park land – people or wildlife. My children will hate moose for the rest of their lives.

Anyway, continuing with my plan to haul ass, I race up the next hill. Dear readers, I have never before made it to the top of that hill so quickly. I pull over in an intersection there and check behind me hoping not to see angry moose antlers heading my way, fortunately, no moose. He had headed off back to the woods probably to tell him moosey friends about this crazy cyclist. After a huge sigh of relief I realize I am shaking and I am still only halfway to work. Not wanting to invite more trouble, I kept riding my shaky way down the path.

I was going to continue riding my bike to work until the first frost, but this encounter has changed that plan. We will be seeing more moose this time of year as they come further into town to look for food and it is mating season so the males are in rut. Repeat encounters with scared sexually frustrated ungulates does not seem wise so I am done.


  1. That sounds nerve-wracking! I was in Anchorage a decade ago to lead a workshop at the Anchorage UU Fellowship, and was very surprised to see a moose when I went out for a walk in one of the city parks. Hey, I said to my host, that's a moose! He was very blase about it, but I wasn't. Back home in New England, we think of moose as the most dangerous animal you could come across in the north woods -- they're nearsighted, stupid, unpredictable, big, and fast. But my host said the thing he worried about was running across a grizzly in a city park. At that point, I decided that I was not ready to move to Anchorage.

  2. You are welcome back to Anchorage anytime, Dan. We will keep you safe from the wildlife. You can spot moose almost anywhere in town at least occasionally, but we only see bears on the outskirts. Even those are usually the smaller black bears. Yes, that was a lot of qualifiers.

  3. Wow! So glad that we didn't have to read about you in the paper ;-)