Throughout my hiking adventures I've occasionally bumped into different animals. It's always exciting to meet a pack of wolves, grouse, deer, or even have a thrilling encounter with a mother bear and cub. There are a few other animals that I've been hoping to bump into that are a bit more rare in the Upper Peninsula. A moose would be particularly awesome to see in the woods after all of the prints and droppings I've noticed in the Peshekee Highlands and Huron Mountains. After three years of hiking these areas I finally got the chance to see one northwest of Dodge City in a remote low forest.
I was tired from a long hike in the north climbing multiple hills and mountains and was heading back to my car. Always on the lookout I had noticed a lot of moose sign on the hike, especially on the gated logging roads that weave around this area. One of the interesting things about hiking this area is the layout of the land… The Northwestern Road climbs up to around 1200 feet but most of the flat land to the north is around 900, so returning to my car involved a decent slope. As I hauled myself up a steeper section of a logging road, still over three miles from my car, a sudden burst of noise in front of me broke my tired reverie. I looked up just in time to see a large bull moose stare at me before bolting up the hill around a bend in the road.
Shocked by this encounter and disappointed that I hadn't gotten a photo of the moose in time, who had startled easily within forty feet of me, I took out my camera and continued up the trail. Rounding the bend cautiously I saw him again, staring down on me. I took some pictures, keeping my eyes on him and my shoulders squared. Not only are moose territorial but autumn is their mating period and I didn't want to threaten an animal who was several times my weight and had a good foot or two on me. Slowly I continued along the trail making my way right, perpendicular to him, never once turning my back or directly approaching him.
Luckily the moose and I were at a fork in the trail and I could head west instead of trying to continue south. I wouldn't have challenged a huge bull moose for an easy trail, but taking the fork was better than bushwhacking in my tired state, even if it meant adding some distance and an awkward crossing of Elm Creek to the route. Elated from meeting a moose finally (and not getting charged in the process) I headed back to my car, thinking about possible encounters with cougars and more moose on future hikes.