Moose Hunt!

10 07 2011

My pack is packed, my shoe laces are tied, my game face is on.  Today is the big day, people, the best day!  I’m hunting a MOOSE.  You heard correctly.  A moose.

The morning is cool as we set out.  This is my first trip into the Pasayten.  We park at the Lake Creek trail head and prep.  Chapstick: check.  Pigtails: check.  Pocket knife: check.  Lets go.  The man at the first campsite confirms my suspicions: a bull moose has been sighted!  They got fifty feet from his snorting face, up by the second pond.  Perfect.

In full stealth mode, I creep up the trail.  There’s something eerie about hiking through a burn.  Instead of a lush forest, blackened spires pierce the sky all around.  The Farewell Fire 7 years ago turned this whole valley into a tree graveyard.  But now the brush had taken over, and moose love this stuff.

Farewell Fire burnt trees

Good thing I’m a master at silence.  Except when branches slap me, or scratch me, or trip me.  Ouch!  You stop that, you stupid brush!  I don’t care that you’re flourishing in the bright, open sun shine!  Can’t you see I’m trying to sneak up on a monstrous moose?!  I disgustedly slurped from my oh-so-handy straw from my hydration pack, pouting.  Stupid brush.

Soon, I have some help.  Lake Creek is swollen and furious, crashing over fallen trees and thundering around boulders.  My angry outbursts are drowned out by the outraged waters.  Rivulets of water cross the trail often, anxious to join the big party headed down stream, and we easily step over them.  Then we come to one that requires a few stones to be stepped on.  WAIT!  What’s THIS???  A track?  Oh yes, ladies and gentlemen, that would be a couple hoof prints in the mud. Dun dun duuuuun….. My moose was here not long ago!

Moose Tracks in the Pasayten Wilderness

Ooo shiny, look at all this pretty granite…  No!  Focus!  Back to the moose tracks!  As we continue up the sandy path, moose tracks are mixed in with boot prints.  Soon we’re fighting through more thick brush.  In my vivid imagination, I am now an explorer of the great Amazon, hacking through the jungle with my crew in search of a great, unknown beast…..Hiye YAW!

Ouch!  I kick and trip over yet another rock as I gaze out over the raging creek.  Better watch where I’m going.  I’d hate to get myself injured and have the beast…I mean the moose…sneak up and attack me.  Then I trip again as I’m methodically scanning the hillsides for my prey.  Something must be wrong with my concentration; I’m soon tripping every few feet as I glimpse awesome new flowers – “What’s this one called??” – and pretty butterflies and ridiculous waterfalls.  What a great hike!

Pretty Patch of Washington Wildflowers

Wait a minute, this isn’t a leisurely hike!  I’m here to find my moose!  Attention trained back to the dirt at my feet, I am relieved to see the moose tracks still on the trail.  Then, tragedy strikes: a fallen log blocks the trail.  OH SWEET JESUS, WHAT ARE WE TO DO?!?!  Fear not, I brought along my handy Ranger, who chopped that stubborn trunk into submission.  Before long, the trail was clear once more, and the mission continued.

Ranger chopping tree

We cross over sparkly rock slides and through thickets of wild rose, thimble berry, twin berry, and snow brush.  We stalk through tiny meadows of brilliant wildflowers – tiger lilies, columbines, fire weed, asters, penstemons, yarrow, and scarlet gilia! – and hop over more babbling brooks.  I am frolicking my heart out, pockets full of sparkling stones, braids full of colorful blooms, when a new sight stopped me short:  a LAKE!  I completely forgot there was a lake on this trail!

Black Lake in the Pasayten Wilderness, WA

Here, some trees had survived.  We got shade AND Black Lake!  Across more streams and more rocks slides and the trail finally dipped down to the water.  What a lovely little beach!  Perfect for a picnic – who wants trail mix?!  Power bar clamped firmly between my teeth, I yank off my socks and shoes to test the waters, fully prepared to fling off all clothing for a nice little dip.  There wasn’t another person for miiiiiles – JESUS ROLLERBLADING CHRIST that water is FRIGID!  Were monster icebergs floating right beneath the surface, allowing me to think the shimmery waters were warm enough to not cause instantaneous hypothermia and full body frostbite??  What kind of CRUEL JOKE WAS THIS?!

I ate the rest of my lunch in sulky silence.  Rude, lake; that was just RUDE.  However, not far up the trail, the multitude of happy flowers beckon me from my dark mood.  Its ok! they say.  Why play in the boring old lake when you can skip through the hillsides with us?!  Of course, they were right.  And skip I did.  I skip along logs, and over the rocks, I skip through an empty campsite and through the sand at the far end of the lake.  I skip in circles just because I can!

Washington Wildflowers on the trail

Then we turn back.  Five miles in, we have reached the end of our trek.  We are going no further.  This time, we move a bit quicker, so I have to switch to a faster tune to hum so my frolicking can keep up.  A few lovely grand jetes over the streams, a twirl over that rock – I am busting some of my best moves to Adele’s Rolling in the Deep when we arrive at the thick brush again.  My karate chopping dance moves are no match for the vicious branches, many of which are thorny, so I finally settle down to “normal” hiking.  So boring.  I take another long pull on my hydration straw only to have it squawk back at me.  Dang it!  Out of water!  I’ll have to STOP and take my pack OFF to get to my reserve bottle!

Houston, things are looking sketchy.  We might not make it.  That sun – its scorching down on me like I slapped its momma.  These bushes – they’re so scratchy and never ending, laughing at me every time I flinch.  Despite all my best efforts, the blisters are bubbling away inside my shoes.  We’ve been hiking for HOURS and haven’t made it back yet – we’re going to DIE OUT HERE AND NO ONE WILL EVER FIND OUR BODIES ONCE THE WOLVES AND BEARS ARE DONE WITH US – hey that looks like our car!

I flop my dirty, tired, scratched-up self against the truck, face-down, enjoying the cool metal against my face, certain I won’t be able to take another step for a week, at least.  Wait!  My head pops up, ears perked, eyes alert.  I drop to the ground, back into stealth mode.  There it was again!  Definitely twigs snapping.  THAT CRAFTY MOOSE PLAYED A TRICK ON ME, GAVE ME TEMPORARY AMNESIA SO I’D FORGET MY PURPOSE, THEN SNUCK UP ON ME TO END MY GLORIOUS LIFE RIGHT HERE IN THE PARKING LOT!  Oh, or its a startled doe, trying desperately to decide what the hell I’m doing, and make her escape.

Startled Doe

Well, so much for my moose hunt.  My ADD ruins everything.  I did come away with a wicked tomato tint to my neck, chest and arms, three blisters, and a blown-out right shoe.  So I guess at the end of the day, I can at least say I’m such an EXTREME hiker, no shoe is safe!!  TAKE THAT!  And don’t you worry, you sneaky moose, tomorrow is another day….

hole in the shoe


*Note from the author: the phrase “Jesus Rollerblading Christ” is not the author’s own witty humor, but actually a quote from Matt Inman, author of The Oatmeal.  All credit for this hilarious outburst is entirely his.  




2 responses

10 07 2011

I love your adventuring. Jealous even.

14 07 2011

Hey thanks Jody! I’m really excited about some new climbing adventures. Have you climbed any of the rock in Washington?

Give it to me straight -

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