9/30/20 – Chased by a Moose
Today started off easily and peacefully enough. After that crazy Presidential debate last night I slept in till 9 a.m., then went across the street to Kriner’s for my favorite breakfast. I’ve become a regular over there. Servers and other customers recognize me and say hello. I met the owner today and spoke briefly about Sunride. He said he’d visit the website and check it out. It was raining so I returned to my room and did some work on a book I’m writing about a Vietnamese refugee. Stay tuned for “Annie’s Story, One in a Million” to be released soon.
By noon it had cleared up enough so I decided to go riding. I headed back to the Coastal Trail going in the opposite direction toward the airport this time. On one side of the trail was the water and on the other dense primitive woods that looked to me like a bear or moose could easily be in there. There’s so much here for big wildlife: streams, lakes, marshes, fish. I called out “Hey bear!” loudly every hundred yards or so knowing bears are skittish to foreign sounds and tend to avoid them. Once I got close to the airport, I felt the sound of the planes would be enough to keep them out of the area so I stopped calling.
The trail was lovely. The city of Anchorage clears the trails of leaves to make them easier to see and less slippery, especially over the many wood bridges.
Moments after I took this photo a young man in his teens came from the opposite direction, flagged me down and dismounted his fat tire bike. “Help me,” he gasped, “there’s a bull moose I saw back there who just stared at me for a while and now he’s following me, stalking me. I’m freaking out.”
I began telling the young man to get behind a tree if the moose charged when just then I saw the moose approaching through the trees right alongside us. He was 30 feet away and hastening his step. “There he is!” I exclaimed with urgency yet with an inexplicably calm voice, “Let’s go!” I was already heading in the opposite direction the moose was headed. Instincts told me that would buy me a split second or two. The young man whipped his bike around and darted off behind me. “Should we run or get behind a tree?” he yelled. “Run!” was my immediate answer. I went full throttle and as fast as I could peddle turning to look back to see if the moose was after us. The young man was keeping up with me, I don’t know how, I had to be going at least 25 or 30 mph and he was on that big-tired beach bike. After looking back four or five times and only seeing the kid behind me, I began to believe we were out of danger. The kid probably realized, before I did, we had left the moose in the dust. He fell away from behind me. I then too slowed a bit from my frantic pace but before I could fully relax damned if there wasn’t another moose, a female, with her calf next to her, just off the trail. “Shit!” I said to myself, “the whole family is out here.” I resumed maximum speed again, looking back like before to make sure I wasn’t being chased. I had much less fear of the female and her calf than I did the bull that had stalked the kid. Later, from talking to locals, I learned moose don’t chase you down as a rule. They like you out of their way but if we were chased at all it wouldn’t have been far.
I passed an oncoming gaggle of little bikers, six or so of them, following what was probably their day-school teacher. “There’s a moose and calf 500 yards ahead, and a bull 500 yards beyond that,” I warned. Their little faces took on concerned looks. I assume the teacher knew what to do. I just kept riding. I felt a little guilty just leaving the young man and the teacher with small children to fend for themselves, but I realized all any of us could do was get clear of the huge, dangerous animals, and there would be no way for me to offer any real assistance. I continued to warn other approaching riders and walkers. Once the trail circled around the airport it ran alongside the highway. I was greatly relieved not to be in the moose-infested woods.
Today I logged my 80th mile in Alaska. I still have one bar left on my battery gauge so it looks certain I will make my 100-mile goal. But as beautiful as the woods are, as smooth and pristine the well-maintained trails, I don’t think my nerves can handle another close encounter with a moose. That kid was terrified. I hope he’s okay. I’m guessing if he were a local, he might have gone up to the highway that paralleled the trail. From what others have told me, I don’t think the bull chased us after we tore off; but I do think at the moment we took off we were in real danger. That moose was moving toward us and his intentions could not have been good. There were just a few trees between us and him.
I may have to finish my riding on the streets of Anchorage and leave the woods to the bear and the moose. We’ll see what tomorrow brings, and how much courage I have left. I really do want to live long enough to see who gets to be President.