A couple of weeks ago I decided to finally take my last preparation before my big race to the next level. I wanted to do a longer ski, which sometimes can be challenging on the ski trails around the campus, the longest one is 6 miles. I guess you can combine several different trails and get a good mileage in, but I was interested in something new. So I decided to go on the dog mushing trails. I only need to cross the golf course to get there so it is fairly close to my home.
The weather was a little chilly in the morning but it was sunny. As the day progressed it got warmer and warmer. It is amazing how good of a heat source the sun is now when the Alaskan spring is around the corner.
I went on this long ski to prepare myself for the long race I was going to do (25 miles). I ended up doing 15 miles, which at that point was the longest I had ever done, even longer than I had ever been running. I am not a great skier. I may have good balance and stability but could definitely get more efficient. I just don't like getting tired when I am on skis, so I tend to ski fairly slow. I didn't sign up for the race to win, rather to see how far I can go, and what I am capable of. I would never drive out and do this long of a trail alone so signing up for a race seemed like a great idea.
As I was skiing on the dog mushing trails I never came across any dog mushers, I did meet a lot of skijorers though. Skijoring is when you ski behind your dogs, one or more. It looks fast and I would never be able to that, at least I don't think so. I was really close to the end when I looked ahead of me, on the trail, and not too surprisingly a young moose was staring at me. A friend of mine had warned me that there were a lot of moose on those trails, and I was so happy that I hadn't come across any yet. However here I was, in front of a young moose. It didn't really scare me that much this time, he was at quite a distance and I took my ski poles and tried to make noise enough to get him off the trail. He looked at me, walked a little to the side and continued browsing. Great, I was not feeling like going by that moose so close, so I started to look around me and saw a small trail leading to the side. I figured that maybe this trail would lead me around him but it ended up leading towards the big road. For me to get around the moose I would have to break trail, in knee deep snow with lots of trees and bushes. Below is an example of what it looks like on these trails..
As you can see it is pretty challenging to get off the main trail if you have to..
That was not going to happen. I went back to the main trail and tried to make more noise but the moose did not care at all. So I decided to take another trail right across from the previous one. Maybe I could make a big loop on the other side. It seemed like one other person had done something similar, according to the ski tracks. So I went into the forest and followed the ski tracks. Now, I did notice that there were some moose tracks on that trail, but who knows how old they could be (at least I was trying to convince myself that they did not look as fresh as they did). I continued on this trail making noise, and all of a sudden I saw a moose, I wasn't sure if it was the same moose or a different one, so I turned around again and made an even bigger loop. Now I started to get a little stressed, because I didn't really know where I was and the trees and bushes made it hard to "escape" if I were to ski into another moose. Right as I was thinking this I could see a big moose in the corner of my eye, and there was no time to think or stop or turn around so I just continued making noise and skied past really fast. At this point I felt like I really wanted to get back to the ski trail and I went faster. Then all of a sudden I saw another moose to the right of me, further in and I continued on my trail until I froze, cause now I was right next to another big moose. He was really really close, as in I could probably have been able to touch him if I reached out with my ski pole. This is the time when you just want to close your eyes and pretend that you are not there, or close them and open them up and the moose would be gone. Or that moment when you are young and your mom or dad can help you through anything, yeah I really had deep wishes that my mom or dad would show up and help me out of this situation. Obviously that did not happen. I started to speak really really loudly to the moose, kind of angrily too, in Swedish. And I was kind of stuck, because now I was going off the single ski track I had followed, in knee deep snow, with skis, through bushes. It took a while before I could actually get out and back on the ski trail again. It really made me terrified though. Of course as I got out on the main trail again I turn around and saw a dog! I was thinking to myself well good luck with that. And then a skate skier blew past me with his dog behind him. They didn't even notice the moose. And I felt so cheated on.
I have had so many moose encounters now that I have come to realize that they are just there, and they will always be there. Instead of being terrified I just need to accept the fact that I will always run into them no matter what. And not at any single point did these moose turn their ears back and look annoyed, maybe they are used to these things happening, or maybe they were thinking to themselves "what is wrong with this person running around in the woods screaming". Definitely making noise and reminding them that you are there is the best way to go, you do not want to startle a moose.
Overall the day was really really nice, and sunny, and i was really tired when I got back after about 4hrs of skiing..
hope you guys have a wonderful day!