Tuesday, August 29
RVSue, Reggie, and Roger have made their home in Palisades Campground in Custer National Forest a few miles outside of Red Lodge, Montana.
The crew and I wander through the empty campground.
Over six years of full-time vagabonding in varied environments, I’ve developed a habit of watching where I step. There are several reasons I do this.
I don’t want to trip and fall or twist an ankle, especially since I’m a solo traveler and being incapacitated, even briefly, leads to bigger problems.
I also survey the ground for snakes, not only for my sake, but also for the crew.
I also enjoy discovering different types of rocks. Most of all, I like to identify the tracks of wildlife.
This morning we come upon the tracks shown in the photo.
In the photo these look similar to deer tracks. However, they are much bigger than those made by deer hooves. The tracks show that an animal has come out of thick brush growing in a thicket by the side of the campground lane and then returned.
Well, something came through here last night . . . .
I look up and focus on a dark mass among the greenery.
“Oh my! A moose” I exclaim in a surprised whisper.
My pulse quickens.
The moose is about 15 yards away.
He’s browsing on the tender parts of small trees at the edge of the campground.
Let me tell you, standing in the presence of all those pounds of moose on the hoof, with nothing between you and him but a few tender branches and grass . . . well, it does make your heart go thumpety-thump-thump.
Although part of me is interested and intrigued by this uncommon sight, the other part snaps into flight mode. Especially since I’m accompanied by two critters who would think nothing of picking a fight with a moose.
I’ve heard that moose are gentle creatures, but, even so . . .
Geez, I’d better get these two outta’ here!
We take off for our campsite.
I pop the crew into the Best Little Trailer and return to the moose. I take the photo (above) and watch for a while. He (I’m assuming it’s a he, might be a she) takes no notice of me, even when I move.
Barks from the indignant crew, although faintly heard from the other part of the campground, urge me to leave the moose.
Happily I return to camp.
I’ve seen four moose. The mama with her youngster at Brooks Lake in Wyoming back in 2012, the one that galumphed across Yaak River Road earlier this summer, and now this one.
Wednesday, August 30
Our camp is located at a circular drive at the end of a short, gravel road coming out of the main part of Palisades Campground. I’m out walking the crew again.
A few campers arrived last night. As we approach the first one, Reggie and Roger begin to bark at the young man standing next to his camper van.
The man is holding up his phone. Then he looks over at me as we walk toward him. He wears an odd expression. The crew continues to bark and pull at their leashes.
Then the man points to something next his campsite.
My mouth drops open and my eyes bulge.
It’s the moose again!
Take another look at the photo above. When I first see the moose, I’m standing with the crew next to that center rock.
I turn slowly and walk the two canine maniacs away. Again I pop them into the BLT and return to take photos.
Later I talk with the young man.
He’s a lifelong Montanan and lives in Red Lodge.
“I like to come up here and camp once in a while,” he explains. “It’s nice up here.”
I ask him his opinion regarding the age of the moose.
“About two years old,” he replies with authority.
Although I don’t see the moose again, I see his tracks every morning.
From those tracks I get an idea of where he roams. He goes up on the ridge above our campsite (right side of next photo).
At some point he comes down off the ridge and crosses the road.
He makes his way through the woods to have a drink, downstream from our camp.
Researching the moose, I find this description.
“The moose is a grand and dignified animal and relays the seemingly forgotten message that nature commands attention, awe, and respect.” — americanexpedition.us
NOTE: To read an interesting article and compilation of facts about moose, in addition to photos and artwork, visit the website linked above.
BTW, see the smoke in the seventh photo? — Sue
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