Holy cow: Moose
December 16, 2005
Skiing’s fraught with many obstacles and dangers: Trees, rocks, moguls, sheets of ice, cliffs, other skiers, lift towers. But Jackson Hole has another: wild ungulates.Alone in the morning on the first run of the day recently, I was skiing in a thin stand of trees between groomers in sight of the Apres Vous lift.Fortunately I was on the lookout for patches of poor coverage or I would have plowed head first into a cow moose lying in the snow in front of a tree.Now, I know you’re supposed to play dead if a grizzly bear attacks, fight black bears and mountain lions, run in zig-zags away from alligators or something. But I could not recall what, if anything, the experts suggest you do a moose gets that crazed look in its eye. So I stopped in my tracks and chuckled; the moose lay there and looked at me with mild interest. There were no little mooselings nearby, so I lingered a few seconds then side-stepped up a few yards and skied out of the trees. I circled around on a groomed run, flanking the moose, and stopped to check it out again. I chuckled. The moose lay there and looked at me with mild interest. I skied away. Apparently moose encounters are common at Jackson Hole, just outside the prime habitat of Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. A resort employee later told me they should be avoided, especially when young ones are around.I later wondered what I might encounter as I struggled down the more remote Hobacks on the other side of the mountain. Top-to-bottom runs are tiring on a mountain with 4,139 vertical feet, especially if you’re learning to tele and the snow’s a little heavy.After each face plant, I looked up into the nearest tree to make sure there were no predators about to pounce on this hapless prey with the tired legs. I was thankful there wasn’t, but also just a tiny bit disappointed.