I mean up close? In my lifetime I’ve only seen four moose. This summer, I had the opportunity to see three in one week in Alaska.
The first moose that greeted us was in the Alaskan airport. Hunters report harvesting over 7,000 of Alaska’s estimated 175,000 moose each year. They are over 6 ft. tall and can weigh up to 1,600 lbs. That’s like a Clydesdale with horns. I’ll tell you later in my story how close we came to a real live moose.
My son Matt and his wife Ashley live in Anchorage, Alaska and have been there for more than two years. My husband, Steve, and I decided to visit them this summer. Since we were coming, Matt and Ashley planned a special adventure into the wilderness on the Kenai Peninsula. To get to the peninsula We drove south four hours from Anchorage to Homer.
From Homer we took a water taxi across the Katchamak Bay and saw sea otters playing. The boat dropped us off on the beach for a two-mile, three-day hiking trip into China Poot Lake. There were no roads or people to be seen.
We started backpacking on a winding trail that was hard to see because of the overgrowth. The Ranger Station had a warning sign to be aware of bears. Matt and Ashley each carried bear spray and their dog, Chili, had a bear bell. We saw numerous signs of bear scat with fresh blueberries.
Each time we’d see one, I would ask my son,
“Is it warm Matt?” which meant he was checking how close the bear was to us. Most of it looked pretty fresh to me.
After two hours we reached our cabin on the lake which was so quiet and peaceful. The next day we decided to hike straight up Poot Peak literally 45 degrees which was wet and slippery. I had to pull myself up by the roots next to the trail.
We continued to see bear signs on the trail. At one point where we stopped to look at the view, Matt suddenly jumped up and raised his hands and yelled to make himself big to alert us that there might be a bear above him on the mountain. I jumped and yelled with my hands up too and then he listened and laughed and said it was a false alarm. I decided to go down the mountain right there.
On the way back to the cabin my husband and I hiked around China Poot Lake where an eagle soared above majestic mountains. Loons were calling to warn the eagle to stay away. It was my ultimate Alaska experience.
The next day we hiked out. We saw a black bear across Halibut Cove who quickly dove into the trees. But still no moose sighting. Four days later we took my son’s dog, Chili, for a walk in park in Anchorage. A man on the trail alerted us that there was a female moose up ahead. I had heard that female moose were more dangerous especially if they have a calf. We cautiously crept in the woods looking for the moose. My son pointed her out just 50 feet down the hill grazing on the leaves like a cow chewing her cud. She was definitely not fazed by us and continued eating while we took her picture. It was amazing.
The rest of our trip we saw many moose crossing signs and another cow with two calves walking by the highway but the most memorable moose was the one on the park trail.