IN THE FIELD: The Kanc

The Kancamagus Scenic Byway traverses the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire for 34 miles. It is like traveling back in time because there are no services such as gas stations, hotels or restaurants. Several campgrounds are in the area along with numerous trailheads for hiking and a few pull offs to take in the scenic views.

My wife and I had been hiking one of the numerous trails in the forest and we realized the water supply we had with us was getting low. We could hear water tumbling over rocks nearby so we thought we would have a look and fill our canteens. As we headed off the trail towards the sounds of cool refreshment, we were stopped suddenly in our tracks.

About 15 feet in front of us, the underbrush started to move about in an unnatural way. Out from behind the curtain of green popped a fully grown adult male moose. It’s antlers had a spread of about five feet. Male moose can weigh between 800 and 1500 pounds, and he was at the upper end of the scale.

He looked at us, tilted his head to the right, then tilted his head to the left, then gave a loud snort. Apparently, we interrupted his refreshment time. Needless to say, we cautiously reversed our heading. Since we were there right in the middle of the rut season, giving a wide berth to the big guy was a wise idea. Male moose can become aggressive during this time. And after all, he had his priorities.

After the moose decided we were not his competition, he took flight deeper into the woods and we made our way to the stream to fill our canteens. Partly, so we would have water for the way back, and partly to quench the instantaneous dry mouth we both had developed from startling a moose 15 feet in front of us.

Making our way back towards our starting point, we met three hikers about 200 yards from the trailhead. They were heading towards moose land. We tried to explain to them about the moose but they didn’t speak any English. I resorted to putting my arms up in the air pretending they were antlers, thrashed around in some saplings, and repeated the words “600 kilos” several times. They got the message. We never saw those hikers again…not even back at the trailhead.

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  1. February 1, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Of course they don’t speak English, they speak Moosie! As usual, beautiful capture. Can I follow you around one day and take notes? 🙂

    • February 2, 2012 at 9:32 am

      Ha Ha Moosie!! Thanks Teri and yes you can follow me around anytime! I really want to start workshops…will keep you posted.

  2. Nandini
    February 1, 2012 at 9:05 am

    That’s a fun story David. Great that he had his own business! 😀 I wish you would have captured it (I don’t know if that would have been possible or not.)

    And, what a beautiful place to discover. Nicely captured too! 🙂

    • February 2, 2012 at 9:34 am

      Thanks Nandini, It sure is a pretty place in the world. One has to be careful that time of year around moose…they only have two things on their mind…eating and female moose.

  3. February 1, 2012 at 10:09 am

    🙂 There are some wonderful colours in this image. Very nice.

    • February 2, 2012 at 9:37 am

      Thanks Meanderer, it sure was a pretty spot in the woods! Best part was …there was no trail that led to this stream!

  4. February 1, 2012 at 10:13 am

    What an exciting story… I felt myself there… Oh, yes, I wished to be with you too there. You are both amazing and brave. Made me smile these hikers… I hope they wouldn’t get problem in there… The photograph is excellent… how beautiful nature world… Thank you dear David, have a nice day, Grettings and Love for you both, nia

    • February 2, 2012 at 9:47 am

      Thanks Nia, I am glad you enjoyed this story. It startled us and made us laugh later!!! It is a pretty place !!

  5. February 1, 2012 at 11:43 am

    There is no doubt that you have a natural skill with the camera. I love this photograph with it’s early autumn tones contrasting with the greens. My eyes are also drawn to the fallen tree, left to decay and provide food and shelter for other animals in the wilderness. A wonderful reminder of the circle of life and nature. And it cannot happen without water, which runs through the middle of everything and this photograph.
    Thank you.

    • February 2, 2012 at 9:49 am

      Thank you for the kind words Kate. It really is a special place and thankfully it still has a remote wilderness feeling!

  6. February 1, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Great photo and story, David! I’m really loving your adventures. Keep them coming.

    • February 2, 2012 at 9:50 am

      Thanks Gracie, glad you are enjoying them. There are plenty more to follow!!!

  7. February 1, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    This is one of my favorites stretches of pavement and have visited many times. On my last visit, last October, my friend spotted a huge face peering from some brush. It turned and disappeared before he got a good look at it. Perhaps it was your moose. We’ll never know, but I appreciate this story. It was nice to be back on the Kanc for a few minutes this morning!

    • February 2, 2012 at 9:54 am

      Hey thanks for visiting Geoff! I’m glad I was able to bring you back there. It sure is a great drive / scenic / hiking place!!!

  8. February 1, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Great photo and a great story. Would have liked a photo of the moose. 🙂

    Side note: Isn’t it wonderful to be in a place where you can find a creek where the water is good enough to actually drink it??

    • February 2, 2012 at 9:57 am

      Thanks Bob, sorry, no moose photo from this story/hike but there are photos of moose from other trips. Have to look through the archives. You are right about the water…it was good!!!

  9. February 1, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Lovely image, and I love the moose story! Those hikers are probably still telling stories about you (and maybe the moose!?) back in their homeland!

    • February 2, 2012 at 10:00 am

      Thanks Jo, I’m not sure whether they understood what I was trying to tell them or they ran off because of this crazy American waving his arms and thrashing about in the woods!!! Funny!

  10. February 1, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    It’s so refreshing to get into nature even if it means giving up conveniences for a bit. But the moose! I would definitely keep my distance also…a huge distance.

    • February 2, 2012 at 10:02 am

      It sure is refreshing Fergie…I call it sanity saver! Moose are generally docile/timid…except the males when it’s that time of the year…wink wink.

  11. February 1, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Lovely photo, David. I admit I went back to search it carefully, looking for the moose. Your story made me laugh – but all the while I was worrying about you and your wife drinking untreated creek water!

    • February 2, 2012 at 10:05 am

      Thanks Lee, sorry, no moose in the photo. They are for another story about a trip to Jackman Maine. Normally we wouldn’t drink untreated water but the purifier was in the car and we were really thirsty. No ill effects came of it though.

  12. February 1, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Love the colours and the limbs seem to frame the photo-lets you look inside.

    • February 2, 2012 at 10:08 am

      Thanks Jane, it was a super lush forrest…you really couldn’t see more than 10-20 feet in any direction. And we had the place to ourselves…except for Mr. Moose.

  13. February 1, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    Beautiful work !!

    • February 2, 2012 at 10:08 am

      Thanks Bernie and thanks for stopping by!

  14. February 1, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Great story, David!

    • February 2, 2012 at 10:11 am

      Thanks Kerry, It still brings a smile just thinking about the look on the foreign hikers faces when I was trying to warn them!!!

  15. February 2, 2012 at 12:17 am

    Terrific photo! I see several moose each summer here, and yes, the bulls should be given plenty of space in rutting season, but aren’t they magnificent!

    • February 2, 2012 at 10:14 am

      Thanks Montucky, yes they are magnificent creatures! I have some photos of moose (and Bison, but that’s another story) where I was able to get pretty darn close. Later on that trip we came across a pretty aggressive bull…he wanted the female and was trying to chase off her yearling. Interesting to watch for sure!

  16. February 2, 2012 at 8:54 am

    I can imagine you running around and trying to explain to those guys what’s waiting for them 🙂 I hope they got the message 🙂 What a great experience, I bet you had a great deal of adrenalin rush 🙂

    • February 2, 2012 at 10:16 am

      It was pretty funny looking if I say so myself. “Run away from crazy American thashing about in the woods! Run Away!”

  17. February 5, 2012 at 6:13 am

    You probably scared the heck out of them! I first wanted to comment on the freedom it is to be able to refill your water bottles at any old stream you cross, but then when that stream comes with a guarding moose….

    • February 5, 2012 at 12:03 pm

      Yes they were pretty startled…especially after my antics in the small trees and bushes! Goofy American hiker I was to them! Moose are big critters…but when you surprise one another like that they look really really big!!! We drank lots of water after that.

  18. February 8, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Love the photo (“serene” comes to mind). The only message those hikers got was that there was a berserk American thrashing about in the woods. After warning everyone they passed, they probably left the STATE.

    • February 9, 2012 at 8:40 am

      I/we got some pretty startled / fear for their lives / run away quickly looks from those guys! At first I was just trying to illustrate the fact that there are moose in the woods and they need to be aware. That didn’t work so I resorted to other measures. Crazy Americans…

  19. October 13, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Great story! I’ve encountered quite a few moose in northern N.H., mostly while out hunting grouse, and have luckily never had a problem. But you are right, they can get nasty when the rut is in full swing.

    • October 14, 2012 at 11:22 am

      We’ve seen our share in Maine and New Hampshire over the years, but never was I as close as you were. What a great experience that must have been!

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