9/25/20 Alaska Day 1
I woke up and spent half the morning unloading my bike from the van, uncrating it in my room, and reassembling it for riding. I asked the guy at the front desk where I could get a good breakfast. He said “straight across the street at Kriner’s Diner.” He sure wasn’t wrong! Kriner’s is a family owned business that serves generous portions of great food at reasonable prices. Reasonable for Alaska is higher than most places in the lower 48, but the value is there. This would prove to be my dig for dining. After a hearty egg, bacon, and pancake breakfast I set out for the Campbell River Trail about 3 miles from the Sockeye Inn where I was staying. A short way in I saw a sign reading, “Moose Loop.” Of course, I took the loop. We had been looking for moose ever since Maine where frequent road signs warn of them but we never saw one until we got to Glacier National Park in Montana and then only from a distance with our binoculars. Naturally I doubted I’d see one today, even on Moose Loop. But I was wrong!
Less than a mile into the loop cyclists coming from the opposite direction called out, “There’s moose on the trail up ahead. Be careful.” I slowed down and sure enough up ahead was a moose, a bull moose, with a huge set of antlers. He was right on the trail, daring anyone to pass.
A young couple on foot and a middle-aged woman on a bike had stopped 50 feet or so behind the moose. I eavesdropped on their conversation to learn there were three moose, the bull and two cows. The cows were in the thick bushes grazing just out of sight. The bull, in rut we were told by the woman on the bike, was watching out for them.
He was on guard, and so were we. There was a sense that the wise would stay clear of the “menage a trios.”
If we found ourselves between the bull and one of his girlfriends, he would charge. If that were to happen, we were told not to try to run away, even on our bike, but to get behind a tree. Moose are so big, especially the antlered males, we can easily keep the tree between us and the attacker. If we fall, we will be stomped to death by the front feet of the moose. “They will stomp you until you make no sound and move no more,” the lady said. “A man was killed in Anchorage last year.”
“There’s the female,” the young woman pointed. She was grazing over the fence of a residence bordering the bike trail. I slipped behind the fence to get a closer look at her. I was sure not to place myself between her and her boyfriend.
I was now directly lateral of, and within 40 feet of the bull, and about 20 feet on the other side of the fence from the cow. He could probably see me through the trees in my bright-for-biking blue jacket. I felt somewhat safe. The cow looked right at me but seemed not to care. The bull looked straight ahead arrogantly refusing to acknowledge my presence. Then the cow came toward me and I quickly decided to get the hell out of there. That fence was no real barrier. It could have easily been stomped down, and although it seemed the bull wouldn’t be able to navigate through the trees with his antlers, what if he flew into a violent rage and charged right through the trees? Those antlers would be coming off soon anyway; they do every year. That big moose could probably knock over some of the smaller trees. If the happy trio decided I was the arrogant one, could they not team up and get me cowering behind a tree? It was enough time spent on Moose Loop for now. Off I scurried back to civilization a mere four miles away. It would be a short ride today, but full of adventure. Welcome to Alaska!