21 May 2009

West Mink Creek

I'd decided that since I finally had the garden all planted, I was going to go hiking this morning. My mom reminded me last night that I had to drive her to be "tortured" in the afternoon (1:20 pm; appointment to get two more posts put in in place of teeth), so I wasn't going to have as much time as I had hoped. I decided on West Mink Creek, mainly because it occurred to me that I hadn't been there since my very snowy visit last year. Since I knew I wasn't going to be able to make it all the way up to where it meets the Elk Meadows trail, I took the opportunity to explore most of the side-trails that I saw, including one that went straight up the side of a rather steep hill.

I had several reasons for following that particular "trail" (which mostly vanished less than a quarter of the way up): (1) It was there; (2) Spectacular view; (3) To find out if my cell phone got reception if I got up high enough (it did; there's precisely none down in the valley where the trail is); (4) It opened itself as an opportunity before my mind (last year at this time, my breathing was so bad that I couldn't have climbed that thing if I'd wanted to, and I wouldn't have wanted to); (5) Because when I told my mom I was going hiking, she immediately said, "Don't get lost!" and I responded, "Oh, I'll just climb a mountain that no one's heard of." Okay, it was a hill, not a mountain, but I have no clue what its name is if it has one, and I'd bet most of the hikers up there have no clue what its name is.

Still, I'm in much much better shape than I was last year. It's hard to keep in shape when you can't breathe, for some strange reason. I made it all the way up and did not need my inhaler at all. I was mildly tempted at the place where I turned around, but by the time I got back down to the trail the temptation was gone. Yay for bromelain.

The timing, however, turned out to be very fortuitous. As I was descending on a mostly nonexistent trail, I thought I heard something crashing through the underbrush of the valley. I had no idea what it was, but I'd made similar noises when I'd tried to climb down to a beaver pond (There's a trail most of the way; if you're up there, I don't recommend trying to go past where the trail ends; I almost slid into the beaver pond), so I figured maybe it was just another hiker. Then as I started following the trail back, I saw a rather large shape ahead of me. My first thought was, "Horse?" People do often ride horses up and down the trails in the area, so that's not as strange as it might seem, but it wasn't a horse. It was a moose.

Usually when I see moose, they're too far away for me to have any real sense of scale. I hadn't realized exactly how big they are, until I confused this one with a horse. This one was close enough that I was a bit nervous. If he'd decided to charge me, there wasn't much I could have done. However, my "following" him, since we were both following the same trail, seemed to make him equally nervous, so that he finally broke into a gallop ahead of me and vanished. I caught up with him once more, and he frantically galloped away again. Eventually, he must have left the trail or else crossed Bannock Highway to the next trail over. Here's a picture of him looking back at me, probably wondering if I was a threat:

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