One of our all time favorite activities is to canoe the Little Spokane River. It’s a lazy little river in the fall and really hardly more than a stream in some sections yet does have a couple little rapid sections that are fun in a canoe. They restrict what can be used to float the river so for the most part you have the river to yourself.
It’s a crystal clear river, not very deep and for 95% of it your in the “wild”, so much so that skinny dipping is an option we, OK “I” , took advantage of. I’ve caught fat little rainbow trout, we’ve scared a coyote drinking on the shore, seen numerous deer and then there’s Moose. Every year we’ve gone we’ve come across momma moose and a calf. Every year but one which this blog is really about that one year.
The river ranges in size from 15-20 ft wide in spots to 15- 20 yards in others. Not very big in other words. this one particular year we were three quarters of the way done with the trip when we came upon momma moose standing on a point. The river was not wide, about 10 yards in this stretch, so I guided us as far right as I could to give her some space. We knew where mom was baby was not far away and didn’t want to spook her. Sure enough, as we rounded the bend, we saw baby in the brush watching us. Seeing moose this close in the wild is both exhilarating and nerve racking.
What we failed to notice was the big bull moose 20 yards down the shore until he sort of snorted and stomped his foot. We all turned to look and his body went rigid as his legs stiffened. It was that point where escape plans instantly started formulating. Oh wait, I’m in a canoe, with my wife and four yr old son who was along for the first time, floating in about five feet of water and ten yards away from an obviously ticked off bull moose. There is no escape. The escape plan instantly changed to rolling us over and floating underneath the canoe to safety. Amazing how fast the mind works when it has too. We all stared at each other waiting for the other to make a move. The bull maintained his stiff posture and we maintained our dead silence. It was not until we were a good fifty yards down stream from him that my wife and I started breathing again. Wow! That was intense!
For those that aren’t familiar with moose. They are highly unpredicatable and should never be approached. They kill more people in Alaska than bears do. In the BWCA I’ve watched a cow moose come tearing out of the woods after a canoe when it got between her twin calves that were playing on an island in the channel we were in. I know first hand the volatility of the moose. The whole experience still makes my heart rate jump.
Here’s a work n progress and then the finished painting I did in honor of that experience.