September 4

I’m in my tent between an oil field and a milo field listening to the pumps pulling the oil out of the ground. I did 16 miles today and I’m 4 miles east of Moscow, Kansas. Early this morning soon after my friend Grant County Deputy Sheriff Terrance Maas dropped me off, Haskell County Deputy Sheriff Gary Johnson stopped to check on me and find out what I was doing. He even offered me a ride. I’m pretty beat after dealing with the heat and the wind today and getting ready to crash. I’ll leave y’all with a little story from my Appalachian Trail hike:

I was in Maine and still had not seen a moose. Everyone else had, just not me. It was probably about 9:30 am and I was just reaching the summit of Saddleback Jr. and the whole mountain top was totally encased in a cloud. I had to strain to see even a few feet in front of me. I thought I saw movement just in front of me; I could barely make out the outline of a moose rising up from where she had been lying. She was less than twenty feet from me, directly on the trail. It seemed like she would never quit getting up. Her shoulders were as high as my head. She never moved after she stood up, she just stood there and stared at me. It was so unexpected; I had been told moose never go up to the higher altitudes. I found out later, they sometimes go higher to escape the black flies that are so prevalent that time of year. I had nowhere to go, there were no trees to climb. I was screwed. I decided to photograph my killer. So I took about eight pictures, she just kept looking at me. She soon tired of modeling, turned very slowly and stepped a few feet off the trail, so as to let me by. I took advantage of the opportunity and walked on past her. I looked back a few times to make sure she wasn’t charging me, she was still there. I was so excited; I saw a real live moose up close and in person! I was pretty excited about still being alive too. I called my moose encounter, “Moose in the Mist.”

A couple hours later I met two young men hiking south. I excitedly started telling them of the moose I had encountered just ahead of them and the wonderful opportunity they may have to see a real live moose. Instead of being impressed with my sighting, they informed me they were from Maine and that they saw moose all the time. I thought they were quite flippant about it. One of them even questioned that I really saw a moose; he said that moose weren’t known to go up to the higher altitudes. How dare they not show interest in a man’s first real eye to eye moose sighting.

It had been raining so I decided I would bed down for the night in a shelter. I hiked another ten miles to the Spalding Mountain lean-to. I got settled in after my meal and couldn’t wait to tell the other occupants my exciting “Moose in the Mist” story. There were only two other hikers and I wanted a bigger audience to tell my adventure of a lifetime to! So, I decided to wait at least ‘til dark to let my audience grow. It only grew by one, another north bounder like me. I started my story, “Hey, I ran into a huge moose cow this morning.” The late arrival interrupted me and said, “Speaking of moose, I ran into two south bounders coming off Saddleback Mountain who said a big female moose kept them at bay for nearly two hours up on Saddleback Jr. They said she would not let them down the trail at all and even did a couple false charges at them before stepping off the trail, allowing them to make a run for it.” “Were the two guys from Maine?” I asked. “Yeah, they did say they were from Maine.” He said. I started laughing, the moose obviously had good discernment, and she hadn’t liked them either. Now the story was even better. After I told my part of the story the four of us had a great time laughing. The late thru-hiker, like me and the moose, hadn’t cared for the two hikers either. I found out later from locals that in black fly season as it was, the moose go to higher altitudes to avoid the flies.

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