Charging Moose Encounter in the Sandwich Range Wilderness

19th October 2016
On the first day of October, I headed out with a friend into a wonderfully wild and lightly travelled area of the Southern White Mountains. The day's forecast, and drive up, made it seem like a stalled coastal system would continue to dump rain showers on us throughout the day. So we changed around our original plans of doing a 13.5 mile loop over Sandwich Mountain which included some scramble sections to a plan that would target the lower summit of Mt. Israel and remote Black Mountain Pond nestled beneath the cliffy section of Sandwich Mountain we were now trying to avoid. Little did we know that decision would put us in the right (wrong?) place at the right (wrong?) time for one of our most exciting (scary?) wildlife encounters ever!

The hike started well enough with some light rain during our 2.1 mile ascent to the summit of Mt. Israel 2630'

View north from the Mt. Israel summit. Just behind the left side of my friend's head is the area of our next target, Black Mountain Pond and the cliffy side of Sandwich Mountain.

We cruised down Mt. Israel on the lightly used Mead Trail and entered more easy trail graded trails in the Sandwich Range Wilderness.

Then it happened. My friend was hiking ahead of me and he said moose. At first I had to put my "gullible guard" up. Sometimes he likes to spring fake Sasquatch or mountain lion sightings on me. But sure enough off to the right side of trail was a what turned out to be a female moose.

I immediately had tried to figure out if it was a cow (female) or bull (male) since it was rutting season and the latter would be a threat to charge and stomp us this time of year. But since it was a female and since she started to eat, I figured she was ok enough with us to stand still and take some pictures.

But after some time we made an inadvertent mistake. Both of us, with our hunters orange on, suddenly moved our heads at the same time. All of a sudden I heard "Run" as a saw a brown blur in my viewfinder. We were standing on some bog bridging with dense brush on either side. There was only one direction to go-- down that slippery bridging which I skidded on. Our hearts were pumping and I kept an eye for trees that would be good to dive behind if needed. The whole charge only lasted a few seconds, but it definitely got the adrenaline going!

When I finally looked back, the moose was standing on the bog bridging where we had been just seconds before.

Thankfully that was all the interest she had in chasing us, and she only stood there, before finally sauntering off in a more relaxed manner.

The moose after the charge, notice the hair standing up on her back, a sign of distress. Don't approach a moose (ever, but especially) with hair standing up or ears pinned back!

Well, that was it for excitement for that hike! We continued down trail and arrived at beautiful Black Mountain Pond, elevation roughly 2400.'

Even after more than 6 miles of hiking, we had yet to see a person and had the whole pond to ourselves. We spent a good 40 minutes enjoying the secluded backcountry pond.

Early fall foliage color was beginning to show on the slopes around the pond. My friend took a walk around the pond and is visible in the shots below if you look for a blue jacket.

The rest of the 7 miles of hiking back was uneventful, but the foliage along the Guineau Pond Trail at the beaver pond marshes was brilliant.

Another wonderful outing into the Whites away from the crowds on the now over popular 4000 foot plus peaks. It was a day where the spirit of wonder of what might be waiting to be discovered out there was still very much alive!


Photo comment By lorie: I miss your stories John! I'll be looking for some more in the near future!

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