I crossed an item off my bucket list on Saturday - I saw a moose in the wild. From a distance of ten meters, the old guy looked cranky and potentially dangerous, with a full rack on his head, heavy body swinging from side to side and big hooves splayed around the pine tree he dined on. My girlfriends dived behind the two pine trees closest to us while I fumbled for my camera, apparently less intelligent and less afraid. I fumbled to capture the magical moment while they hissed, "Laura, get back! Please get behind the tree...".
I did shuffle backward in my snowshoes posthaste when Mr Moose sauntered a few steps closer. We monitored his movements and mood for a few minutes until someone noticed his wife and teenager moose on the frozen lake behind us. Forget danger level orange or red, we suburban ladies hit a new level of alarm, which we called "Code Moose."
"We're between the family members!" someone exclaimed in a harsh whisper.
"Get your hiking poles ready," exclaimed another.
At this juncture I felt the need to point out that the trail was quite popular - we had seen ten people in half an hour - and the moose must be fairly accustomed to homo sapiens. My comments fell on deaf ears. The panic in two of my companions spurred them off-trail in a vector headed away from the moose, which only landed them in two and a half feet of powder, against which the snowshoes were no help. I beckoned them back, issuing repeated assurances that the moose "wasn't looking."
In the end, we went down the same trail that had brought us to the old guy and his rack. I volunteered to go last, since I had a green coat and looked most like a tree, but also because I really didn't think the moose was worked up about our presence on his trail. In the end, the quadruped gave us a few moments of tears and several hours' worth of laughing until we cried, at the image of four suburbanites huddled in fear, watching a munching moose and preparing to fight to the death with flimsy plastic hiking sticks.