Summer, 1995

We were hiking deep in the woods of Maine. My group had hiked to the top of Mt. Katahdin, and now we were on our way down. My group was spread out along the trail, and I was alone for the moment. I was trying to catch up to four members of my group, who I knew were moving fast. I was hurrying down a rocky slope, with tall trees on either side. At the bottom of the slope, the trail curved to the right. There it met a brook, which ran along the left side of the trail for a while. As I was nearing the bottom of the slope, I heard something moving in the woods ahead and to the right. For some reason (to this day I don’t know why) I thought the noise I heard was one or more of the four people I was trying to catch up with. Increasing my speed, I got to the bottom of the slope and rounded the curve.
Then I saw it. It was huge, looming many feet above my head. Long legs. Big head. Large dark eyes. It was dark brown all over. It was no more than a dozen feet away. I froze, breathless. It stopped as well, staring at me like it could read my mind. After a few seconds stretched on and on, it looked away, uninterested, and proceeded to eat some leaves off a small tree.
I took a breath and relaxed a little bit. I saw that the moose was up on a bank that rose up a foot or so above the trail. So it wasn’t quite as tall as it first seemed. It had dark brown fur, not skin. It was a female moose. I noticed it had bent the small tree over, so that it was almost bent in half. The tree wasn’t that small! I sat down on a rock to catch my breath and watch this amazing animal. Then I tensed up again. There was another one! This was smaller, probably as tall as I was. I guessed that this one was the first ones’ calf. The younger one was looking at me now. Except it seemed curious. Once again, I got scared. “Stay away from me!” I thought “I don’t need your mother running me up a tree, or into the river, or worse, more than likely!”
Luckily, the young moose satisfied its’ curiosity by looking only. When the mother moved on, up the slope, the young one followed. I sat on that rock for probably five minutes after they had disappeared among the trees. I had seen pictures of moose before, but that was the first time I had seen one in real life. They were bigger, and more powerful than I had realized. And more beautiful, once you got over the shock of running into one. And I mean that almost literally.
Once I got back to the lot where we had parked our vehicles, I finally found the four people I had been trying to catch up to. They had gotten back first, but I was the one with a story to tell.

3 thoughts on “close encounter

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