Saturday, April 1, 2023

Close Encounter of the Moose Kind

Look who is blocking the trail AGAIN!!!

"Hey, no stopping on the trail!" yells Rudy.
"Yeah, RUDE!" adds Jack.

These are the same two moose who where blocking the trail in this EXACT same location 48 hours ago. Now here's the thing, it is rare to unheard of to encounter moose at the same place 48 hours apart. The big animals wander through large spaces to forage in the forest. They already picked the trees in this location clean 48 hours ago, so what are they doing back? So much for "unheard of"...

Today was probably the scariest moment I've ever had on skis, brought to you by these "shouldn't even be here" moose. We were skijoring along, minding our own business, when suddenly the mother moose SHOT out of the forest onto the trail in front of us. Holy smokes!

Big ass moose jumping out from the trees to cut us off.
Pun intended (big ass :)

Come along for the slow motion video of this ridiculously wild moose encounter. As I said above, we are skijoring along, minding our own business, when suddenly the MOOSE pops out of the forest onto the trail and takes off in front of us. I immediately throw my body to the ground to stop everyone. My full body is the best brake I have on this skijoring machine :) My goodness, cutoff by a MOOSE! Whoa!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

After collecting myself from this ridiculous cutoff, I got up to see where the moose went. Well, she ran down trail to collect her kid. So, here we were again blocked from proceeding by two moose. A lady we had passed earlier eventually caught up to us stopped for the moose. We all studied the moose trying to figure out how to get them to move.

Rudy screaming at the 2 moose as we all ponder what to do next.

This lady became our new friend for a while. As she and I were discussing the moose with Rudy screaming at them in the background, she eventually said, "I'm surprised they don't leave due to him [Rudy] screaming like that!" I agreed, but Rudy wasn't moving them. 

Here's a zoomed in shot of the two trail hogs.

Mom on the right, kid on the left.
Make note of that bush in front of the kid.

What did we do? Well, Jack, Rudy, myself and our new skier friend skied back up trail to give the moose time to leave. We'd ski a little ways and then one of us would ski back to see if the moose were gone. The moose were moving down trail, but VERY slowly, snacking along the way. Each time we reverified the moose were still in the way, the 4 of us would reverse and go back up trail for a bit. Along the way, Jack & Rudy decided to inspect all the places the moose had snacked. Remember the bush next to the kid in the prior photo? Well, here it is up close...

"Sniff, sniff - juvenile moose slobber on this bush!" declares Jack sniffing
the bush that the kid was snacking on in the prior photo.

Not to be outdone, Rudy found where the mother shot out of the forest when cutting us off.

"Sniff, sniff  - big mama slobber! Even better than kid slobber!" declares
Rudy inspecting the bush the mother was apparently eating before shooting
out of the forest in front of us.

Our new group of 4 tried to get past the moose 6 times, each time going a little further on the trail but still running into the moose eventually. On attempt #7, we finally got clearance! Our new friend is pointing out where the two moose are FINALLY off trail. Of course, Jack & Rudy already alerted me to their location; but still nice of her to point it out.

"Thanks for pointing, but we are already ON it!" says the moose spotters,
Jack & Rudy.

Finally clear and it is back to the trailhead for some much deserved end of run treats!

Given the situation - being cutoff by a moose, Jack & Rudy were incredibly
good today listening to me and turning around 6 times due to moose
blocking the trail!

Yowza, what were those two moose doing in the same location 48 hours apart?!?! Unheard of!!! Anyway, 11.2 miles traveled with a top speed of 24 MPH and 800 feet of elevation climbed.

2022/2023 Season to Date: 123 days on the trails covering 1096.0 miles with 99,500 feet of elevation climbed.

Thursday, March 30, 2023


NOT what you want to see in the middle of the trail after rounding a corner at 20+ MPH!

 MOOSE! Yes, it's hard to see in this shot, but I wanted to show how hard I'm
driving left ski and right pole into the trail to try and come to a stop. The light
brown you see ahead in the middle of the trail are the bottom of the moose's
legs (better photos below once I got stopped :)

This was moments before the moose encounter. We alway take this corner at the nordic center fast, little did I know what we'd find around the corner!

Innocently zooming as usual, so I thought.

Okay, now I've got Jack & Rudy stopped. Here's the moose...

Dead ahead of Jack. 

Such deceivingly camouflaged creatures... Here's as zoomed as I can get in the prior photo without it getting too blurry:


This was a juvenile moose. I started backing Jack & Rudy up and it started to come our way! So, I stopped for what seemed like forever and the moose stopped too. Rudy was, of course, screaming at the moose; but it just stood there. I tried to backup a second time and it came forward again! So, we just stood there for a while (okay, I stood, Rudy screamed and Jack kept trying to lunge forward). I've seen juvenile moose alone before when the mother is trying to wean them off being dependent. In the past, the mother had always been nearby, just trying to let the kid mature on its own. But, after Rudy screams, the mother usually shows up quickly - not today, though! I was starting to worry this was an orphan moose and was worried that it kept coming forward whenever I tried to back up. Well, FINALLY the mother showed up! I guess she decided the kid needed some advice on how to deal with Rudy screams (don't we all need advice on Rudy ;) The mother and kid started to go the other direction, yay! Once they got out of sight, I proceeded forward cautiously with Jack & Rudy until just around the bend in the trail and they were stopped again. This time Rudy screamed and the mother took a step forward. That was ENOUGH, I collected Jack & Rudy and retreated the other direction!

Hard to see the mom & kid; but this was as close as I was going to get!

A little context on the section of trail. We were at Gold Run Nordic Center and you can consider the nordic center as consisting of two independent networks of trails connected by a single trail. Just behind us was the upper network which would have given us lots of trail options to get around the moose. Just behind the moose was the lower network which could again have given us lots of trail options to get around the moose. But, we were in the single connector with no options but to use this trail. Anyway, we retreated for about 20 minutes before attempting to come back through this "only option" stretch of trail...

So, come along for today's video with some "cautious skijoring" from me as I scan the trail for moose. At about 20 seconds into the clip, you'll see all my "ski marks" from when I had to stop and reverse Jack & Rudy when the encounter happened. About 32 seconds in and all you see are moose tracks on the trail (we had turned around before here) - notice Jack & Rudy inspecting the tracks as as we go. About 44 seconds in and the tracks disappear - yay, the moose left the trail! Then around a corner and there's another skier coming up trail so we know the moose are clear and off we go.

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Safely back to the trailhead and let's climb snow walls for end of run treats :)

"That was fun, but why did we retreat?" asks the happy kids.

We had a great 10ish mile skijor on groomed trails then an interesting 2 mile addition while we waited for the moose to leave: 12 miles traveled with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 24 MPH.

2022/2023 Season to Date: 122 days on the trails covering 1084.8 miles with 98,700 feet of elevation climbed.


Wednesday, March 29, 2023


What is that ahead of us in the middle of the trail (where I've placed a red arrow)?

Yikes! That is a coyote in the middle of the trail!
Note Jack & Rudy have noticed the coyote too! Eek!

No, I do not have a better picture of the coyote. I put on the brakes as soon as I saw it and turned us around (with some complaints from my pals :) Only 4 things scare me on the trails and cause us to abort the path we are going: moose, coyote, mountain lion and bear. Nicely, bears are hibernating most of the skijor season; but we have encountered bear tracks often in April & May as they are waking up. But, luckily, we've never had an actual bear sighting on the trails. We've seen mountain lion tracks only once (phew) and never an actual lion itself (double phew). We encounter moose frequently; but these are the least scary of the scary animals - moose want nothing to do with humans (or dogs) and they are not a danger if you simply keep your distance. Coyotes, well they bother me! So, it was abort this trail and turn around as soon as I realized this was a coyote on the trail ahead of us!

Before the coyote, we found ourselves on a wonderful, recently groomed trail along the shores of Dumont Lake. Jack & Rudy know what to do with a groomed trail: pedal to the metal and catch some air:

The hover huskies catching air. Wheeee!

Notice anything different about the following photo? Well, we are skijoring on the left hand side of the wide trail. Normally, we skijor the "right side of the road" on wide, multi-use trails as basic rules of the road apply to snow as well. But, today the left side was a pristine corduroy groom while the right side was snowmobile tracks. Who wouldn't ski a corduroy over a snowmobile track if you have the chance? Note that this is a wide open stretch of trail and I would be able to see any snowmobile well in advance and move back to the right side of the road :)

Riding the left side of the road. Rebels :)

Come along for today's video counterpart to the prior photo. We start out on the right; but once I see the "left corduroy" I only need to say "over the the left" for Jack & Rudy to slide over with me. We drift left twice (both times I ask) and then eventually drift back to the right side of the road once the corduroy appears over there as well. Great listening from my perfect partners and great understanding to automatically drift back to the right when the conditions warrant it!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

With our initial planned route aborted due to a coyote encounter, what to do now? I know, let's go skijor over Dumont Lake! The lake is, of course, frozen in the winter. A couple of times a year, I'll route us onto the lake when I see fresh/recent snowmobile tracks crossing the lake too. The total weight of our combined team is only about 250 pounds; if the ice can hold a snowmobile, it can hold us!

We skijored out to the middle of the lake before turning around to come back the same way. Did I say "turn around"? You bet...

Our first ever "snow angels on a frozen lake" from the goofballs.

Done rolling snow angels and time to really turn around. Fun shot of us cruising over a frozen lake:

No trees anywhere near us because we are on frozen Dumont Lake! Wheeee!

Finally, back to the trailhead with my fun pals:

"Ready for end of run treats!" declares my cute little pals!

Some nice wide, partially groomed trail skijoring and then a trip over the lake after the coyote abort: 8.4 miles traveled with 700 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 24 MPH.

2022/2023 Season to Date: 121 days on the trails covering 1072.8 miles with 97,800 feet of elevation climbed.