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813 Summer Stories

Moose in the meadow

My wife and I spend a lot of time hiking and playing in the woods and wilds. During our many adventures we see a lot of wildlife. In fact, we have seen so many bears that we sometimes think we are some kind of bear magnet. One of the reason we see wildlife is because we spend a lot of time in wildlife habitats.

Last summer ('12) while visiting Rocky Mountain National Park, we planned a hike to Bluebird Lake in the Wild Basin area of the Park. With an early start we began the 6 (+) mile, one way hike to the lake. The popular hike follows North Saint Vrain Creek and then Ouzel Creek to Ouzel Lake. At the junction with the Ouzel Lake Trail we continued toward Bluebird Lake. In the meadow a little beyond Ouzel Lake, moose were lumbering along close to the trail. We stopped and watched. Quietly we moved along the trail being careful not to disturb them. In no way did we want to make the grazing giants think we were a threat to them. The only noises were the fake shutter sound of the digital cameras, Amy imitating what she thought were sweet moose sounds, and the moose chomping on the vegetation.

hikers below Bluebird Lake

We spent a good deal of time sharing the meadow with the moose before quietly continuing on our way. After a short stay at the 'well worth the hike' - Bluebird Lake, we began the return hike to the trailhead. Just down from the lake we heard hikers approaching. Soon a couple came into view still talking loudly. We stopped and chatted with them. The were a fun couple, laughing loudly at most anything you said.

During the conversation I asked, 'did you see the moose?'

Seemingly disappointed, they asked, 'where?'

No, they had not seen the moose, but then, they jokingly admitted to singing loudly on their hike. We heard them ten minutes before we actually saw them. The moose probably heard them well in advance and ran for cover!

So, a few tips on seeing wildlife on your hikes ...

Wildlife tend to be more active in the early morning and in the late afternoon. In the middle of the day they find a quiet cool place to rest.

Start early in the day ... trails are less crowded in the early morning. The fewer hikers that are on the trail the better the chances are to see wildlife. Also, the hikers on the trail in the early morning hours tend to be more experienced and know how to act around wildlife. By the way, early means pre-dawn, not 8.

Go to areas where wildlife would be. Study their habitats. In the summer look for grazing animals to be in the high meadows, but in the winter they will move down the mountains to warmer territory.

Animals need water just like humans.

Walk quietly. Don't attach gear to your pack that makes noise with each swaying step. Trekking poles can also make a lot of noise.

Learn to walk softly. Wear softer shoes instead of clomping boots.

Learn to be comfortable in the wilds.

Don't wear strong scented deodorants, lotions, perfumes, etc

Wear natural colored clothing (and gear).

Once you see wildlife ...

Don't approach animals, they really don't want care if you want to get a better picture or not.

Don't stare at wildlife, it might be threatening to the animal.

Stay quiet and move like an animal, smoothly and gracefully.

Talking quietly seems to soothe animals. My wife talks to animals all of the time. In town, the neighbors' dogs who bark constantly at everyone else, barely raise their heads when she walks by and in the wilds - birds, critters, and large animals all seem to fall under her calming spell.

Leave the wildlife as quietly as you approached them.

Never feed wildlife.

When you have a snack or meal use care not to leave food, spills, or even crumbs.

Of course if you are in bear country, then you probably would want to make noise to warn bears that you are coming.

We love seeing wildlife on our hikes. The sightings add to our enjoyment of the natural world and adds to every adventure. We see a lot of wildlife each summer, but we don't sing Rocky Top at the top of our lungs while we are hiking!

Happy Wildlife trails

Bluebird Lake trip report


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