It’s not every day that a burst of excitement pushes through the more ordinary things that happen on most days, but today proved to be an exception. I had decided that I would do some skiing and running–nothing unusual there–and that since I hadn’t run the previous two days, I would ski shorter and run longer, which is what I did. I ended up running for about 100 minutes, and already halfway through that my legs were dragging some, but I plugged away and got up the one bigger climb I had towards the end. After I made the climb, I had a segment of fairly flat trail that was more or less straight with just a couple of minor curves here, and once I got finished with the climb and got on that stretch and close to being finished I wasn’t really thinking about anything in particular, and was just in a relaxed mode. Until I came to one of those minor curves in the trail, when I suddenly realized there was something in the way right ahead–my first thought was it was a very fuzzy looking brown cow. There wasn’t time for any more thoughts in an instant–and it really happened so fast that it was a complete blur–the animal turned and charged. It was a moose. And as I was frantically trying to step off the trail and get something in between it and me, it hit me–knocking me down in some deeper snow–and either in the process of hitting me or right after, it either struck my lower leg or else stepped on it. Again, it happened so quickly it’s impossible to say exactly what happened. So there I was, down in the snow and the moose was a step or two away from me, and then I had time for my next thought: “I’m screwed.” I fully expected the moose to come after me again, and there was no way I was going to be able to get away from it or defend myself; I was in a helpless position. But instead of coming after me a second time, the moose paused, and then took a few steps down the trail away from me, and then stepped a short distance into the woods on the other side of the trail, looking at me the whole time.
I wanted to get up and out of there as quickly as I could, but I also didn’t want to re-provoke the moose, so I got up slowly, got back on the trail, and backed away until I could see the moose was headed off too, at which point things seemed safe again. My leg hurt pretty good, and I couldn’t run on it, but I didn’t think anything was broken, and I walked most of the rest of the way back to the parking lot, and tried to and was able to jog the last little bit very slowly with a slight limp.
While I was doing that, I was thinking about what had just happened, and decided then–and I still think now, with some time having passed and with further reflection–that the moose hadn’t deliberately attacked me, but rather that probably what happened was that I startled it, and it just reacted in the moment by charging me. I was running very slowly coming up to the moose and probably therefore making very little noise on the snow trail, and additionally running into the wind. The wind was pretty strong and noisy, and because of that it probably hadn’t heard me, and since I was downwind it couldn’t have detected any scent of me, and since it was facing away from me (I think), it couldn’t see me as I was approaching. And there have been plenty of times when I’ve been about as close to a moose or even closer than I was this time, but generally it’s been the case where coming close wasn’t as sudden or unexpected. At any rate, I believe the moose was reacting totally defensively and was not aggressively attacking me, because it could have easily kept coming after me and struck at me with its hooves once it knocked me, but it didn’t it.
But mostly I thought about how quickly it happened. Before I had time to fully realize what was happening it was already over. Back home, my leg was still hurting pretty good for a few hours, but the pain gradually subsided to the point where I was pretty sure my leg bones were intact and now (next day), all I have is a slightly sore area where I was struck, and a sore area and knot on my ankle that, if I didn’t know better, would make me think I had a slightly sprained ankle. All in all, I feel pretty lucky–it could have been much worse.
The irony is that I just found out recently that a woman had been attacked by a moose up at Happy Jack back in January, and had suffered several broken ribs and maybe a broken arm and had some abrasions as well. And today, early in the ski, I stopped and talked with two acquaintances, and we talked about that moose incident. And I know I said something about how over all the years I have seen lots of moose in different situations and had never had been particular concerned about any of them and how, if anything, I would be much more worried about running into some bad actor (person) than I would ever worry about a moose.
This wasn’t on my bucket list (getting charged by a moose), not that I have a bucket list anyway, but if I did, I could now cross this one off.