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IN THE FIELD: The Kanc

February 1, 2012 38 comments

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.