[I asked production editor Julie Harman to blog this week. Here’s her report of a very exciting camping trip!]
I am afraid of bears. On the wall behind my desk hangs a helpful brochure on coexisting safely with black bears (unusual office decor, I know, but I find it reassuring). Therefore, on a camping trip a few weeks ago in Rocky Mountain National Park, I was thoroughly prepared for my very first encounter with a bear—which I, as someone who’s never camped outside the state of Minnesota, figured must be inevitable if the campground supplies “bear boxes”(containers for storing food and anything else with a scent).
Alas, I was not prepared for a wild moose encounter on a hike. We were about 2 miles from the trailhead when a pair of velvety antlers emerged from the trees, and a moose sauntered down the trail toward us. According to my own theories of proper wildlife behavior, animals in the wild larger than a raccoon should be afraid of people, and it’s very disconcerting when they are not. This moose was definitely not. We whispered “Is it aggressive?” and “What should we do?” and finally “Is it going to stop walking toward us?” Then we slowly backed away to let it pass, and it never acknowledged us. Hey, just sharing the trail, I guess.
I’ve since learned that it was not until the late 1970s that groups of moose were introduced into the Rocky Mountain National Park area, and their population has blossomed. Indeed, at least some of the moose appear to feel quite at home among the tourists and hikers. Moose have been in the news here in Minnesota because of a study showing that Isle Royale moose populations are dramatically reduced. So this was a particularly exciting sighting for this Minnesota camper, and I’m quite content to wait a few more years before I see a bear.
Wishing you could be whisked away to the Rockies for a quick getaway? Visit vicariously through the beautiful photos in The Rocky Mountains, from our Lightning Bolt Books series. And you won’t even need to use a bear box.
(Black bear photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Moose photo courtesy of Laura Tushaus—friend and photographer with much faster reflexes than mine.)