Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Wild Kingdom


If you have been following our blog, you may remember my quest last summer to see a moose in the wild.  In five months of hiking, hiking, hiking, looking, looking, looking, there was nothing, nothing, and nothing.  The moose quest was finally squelched when I left the woods of Maine and New Hampshire sincerely bummed. So flash forward to present day one year later.  We are camped in Montana on the beautiful Yellowstone River and what do I see at 6 a.m. while walking Spirit – a moose lying down on a rocky bar in the river.  And not just one!  As I looked closer there were four ears instead of two and one pair was a lot larger than the other.  I may be a wildlife biologist but it didn’t take a college degree to figure out what I was looking at.  Low and behold there was a moose with a newborn calf.   The calf was wet and lying down next to the mother who was attentively licking it dry.


The mother had her eye keenly on me and Spirit – keeping a watchful eye over the youngster.  Oh boy was I excited!  It was now time to wake up the campground as the latest episode of “Wild Kingdom” was airing just behind campsite number 2.  Pretty soon the wary mother prodded the baby to stand and its wobbly legs sprang to life.  The baby stumbled along with the mother for a few feet, nursed, and looked amazed at the row of coffee drinking, bed-haired campers staring at it.  Soon the baby was back down, then up, then down, then up and finally they were on their way to security in the taller vegetation.




The morning activity in the campground had the place buzzing as we all relished in our remarkable fortune to have been witness to this annual act of nature.  The following day the baby and mother came back to the river to drink and we all had a good laugh at the calf’s awkwardness.  When she got wet and shook off, the flopping of her big ears nearly toppled her over.  She amused herself by stretching her long legs and seeing how fast and far they would carry her over the rocks.  And then, there it was!  A black bear was in the bushes that provided refuge for the mother and calf.  Prior to us spotting the bear, the mother was acting nervous and kept focusing her eyes and ears on the bushes all the while trying to edge the baby into the cold rushing water.  We could not believe our eyes as the mother gingerly encouraged the calf into the water that was growing deeper and deeper and swifter and swifter.  Soon, mother and calf were in the water trying to navigate the rapids and keeping the startled calf’s head afloat.  We gasped every time the calf’s head bobbed in the water and sunk below the surface as they were swept down the river.







An earlier call to Montana Game and Fish yielded a bear biologist who watched this amazing spectacle unfold in front of us.  It seems the bear had been hanging out up river and the biologist was eager to confirm that it was a black bear and not a grizzly (as previously reported).  Shortly after the moose and calf went down river, we could see the mother standing on another island but there was no sign of the calf.  As we turned our focus to the bear we saw it run towards the river and begin to swim across.  Soon it was on our side of the river, just 50 yards from the campground.  We never saw the bear again but kept vigilant knowing it was in the area.  After looking up and down the riverbank numerous times for signs of the moose and her calf, we all went to bed with heavy hearts.  How could the little calf survive the long swim in the rushing water?



The next morning, the campground owner, Kim, jovially came by to tell us that the biologists saw the calf (with mother) down river and reported that the youngster was “cold and wet, but alive and well.”  That news lifted our spirits but I think we would all feel better if they would wander back to the land across the campground and we could see the calf frolic in the water again……minus the bear! 

3 comments:

  1. What an experience! So pleased that you had your camera in hand. Great photos.

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  2. Awesome! Great story, terrific pictures. I'm going to put this link in JourneyLinks in the wildlife adventures portion.

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