Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Moose Musings And Shiny New Bike Trail.

I figured it wasn't raining and the ground, while damp, wasn't splashy wet, so it was time to get on the bike before it started raining again.  Almost to the tunnel under Elmore, there was a moose in the path.

This is not an uncommon situation on the Anchorage bike paths.  This one saw me and kept moving into the brush.  But I wasn't sure if there was another one nearby.  It got about 15 feet off the trail and I decided that it was more interested in eating than chasing cyclists, so I went on by.

Further on I got to Campbell Airstrip Road and discovered the new bike path was completed.  There had been short stretches of bike path - a little on the east side for maybe half a mile up from Tudor and then a ways up more on the left side.  But like the road itself, it was in bad condition.  Earlier in the summer when I biked up here I saw them working on the road and what looked like a new bike path.  But since mid-July I had stuff to do downtown, so that took care of most of my biking and I realized I hadn't been up this way for about six weeks.

Well, now there's a spanking new bike trail, separated from the road.  As I enjoyed the crack and bump free trail, I also thought about why I sort of liked riding on the road.  This road dead ends and doesn't have a lot of traffic.  There are some trail heads, and after a few miles through the woods, there is a scattering of houses.  This is also bear country in the summer.  They like the salmon that come up Campbell Creek.  I have never seen a bear here, but this is their territory.  And this has been the summer of bears in Anchorage.  I've never seen so many people carrying bear spray on hikes and even on the bike trails in the middle of town.  So being on the road means that if I encounter a bear, there should be a car coming by within a couple of minutes.  But now much of the trail can't be seen from the road easily.

As I was thinking about all this I did encounter this cat, still clearing debris on the side of the trail

The new trail is done, pretty much.  They're still working on the road.  They both go just about to the bridge before the Campbell Airstrip Trailhead.  Here's a picture as I came back.  I was on the little bit of the old bike trail that's left.

The new trail ends where the saw horses are on the other side of the bridge.

So, as I was biking back home, I thought about whether the moose would still be in the area.  I also thought about the guy I heard on KSKA's New Arrivals program this morning.  He'd been in Anchorage about a month and he has a degree in assisting the blind.  Too bad my friend Lynne moved out of town last fall.  He sounds like he'd be a good resource.  But he mentioned seeing his first moose and swallowing a scream.

My experience is that most urban moose are used to humans as long as we act predictably.  We can pass by them pretty close - 5-10 feet even - if we stay on the trail, or the road, and just keep going in the direction we're headed.  The only time I've seen a moose charge someone was when a small crowd of people stopped on the bike trail and started getting closer to the moose to take pictures.  She did a fake charge and scared the hell out of them - one was a friend of mine who wouldn't listen to my pleas to get back.   (You reading this Doug?)

I'd recommend a much greater distance than five feet, but there have been plenty of times when I was running or biking and didn't see the moose as much as felt its presence as I was going by and then saw it as I turned my head.  It would just keep on eating.  Last winter I shoveled the driveway in the early morning darkness and when I got to the bottom and turned around, there were two moose eating the Mountain Ash tree just a few feet from the driveway.  I pulled back and let them wander off, before I went back up the driveway.

And earlier this summer I passed a mom and two calves.  The mother was right on the edge of the path, but by the time I saw her, it was too late to stop and there wasn't any other way to go, so I just rolled on by.

So I was thinking all this as I came out of the tunnel near where I'd seen the moose earlier and there it was again on the trail.

This time, there was an easy detour that would get me back onto the trail just beyond where the moose was and I took it.  [Well, it was available the first time too, but I would have had to backtrack and the moose was calmly eating far enough off the trail anyway.]

And as I kept riding, I kept thinking about moose and bikes, and I suddenly realized that there was another moose about five feet to my left as I rode past.  The moose didn't even wiggle its ears as I went by.  I didn't stop to take a picture of that one.


  1. Steve, beautiful. But you know that. Treat moose as they see you: part of what can be natural environment.

    In England, in London, it still seems remarkable to me that cats who live in our cities are not concerned one wit about we humans crossing their paths. A cat may be dozing on a pavement (sidewalk) and it won't even open an eye as I approach. They are that confident that we humans won't harm them -- and we simply wouldn't.

    We don't eat cats.

    Animals (and I include ourselves) can and do accustom themselves to other creatures who are not a physical threat -- but learn quickly to avoid those that are.

    I think of it as natural compliment when a local cat doesn't move now, just as I did with many a moose in Anchorage. When we don't harm, we can just walk on by.

    1. Thanks. I'm sure there are lots of people who wish dogs would ignore them too.

  2. Hi Steve,
    Great post. Thank you for sharing your adventures and the link to KSKA's New Arrivals.


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