Experiences, anecdotes, tips, how-tos, hiking, nature, motherhood, memories.

Adventures in Camping with Kids

Camping with kids is like pitching a tent upside down. Both are bound to fill with laughter and raindrops.

--Victoria Marie

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Animals You Find on the Trail: The Importance of Maintaining Distance

Into the woods on another adventure
This can be more difficult than it seems depending upon the beast.  Sometimes you don’t notice them until you’re in front of them.  We’ve met many creatures while camping with the family; snakes and skunks, deer and bear.  Most were on or by the trail.  Sometimes we were on ranger hikes.   However, this time we were on our own, hiking back to the van on a coastal trail on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia.  
                              
We had hiked to a swift moving, icy stream lined with stone and rock.  By the time we got there we were hot and tired.  I must admit, I’m kind of strange.  I like to shed shoes and socks and test the water no matter how cold it is.  By the way, so do my children.  My husband’s the only normal one.  He’s content to remain along the stream bank, shifting the forces of water by shifting rocks.  

The children usually clamber over boulders to see who can get the farthest boulder to shed shoes.  Unfortunately, this time our oldest daughter’s shoe slipped from the boulder and caught in the current.  I screamed for her to jump in and get it before it disappeared around the bend, for we had a distance to hike back to the van.  To my surprise, my husband braved the frigid water to retrieve the floating shoe.

Everyone cheered, although I could see his teeth chattering as he glared, not at our daughter, but rather at me for starting this ritual of shedding shoes and testing mountain water.  I did a quick dip with my feet and then put on my shoes.  So did the children.  Hiding my smile, I cautioned them not to giggle as their father squished past us to the trail.  We followed behind.

As we ventured into the darkened wood, as the trail curled across the forest floor, suddenly we spied a dark mass moving close to the ground.  My husband hushed the children and stood still.  Since my husband squished as he walked, I moved a bit closer to see what it was.

A moose lay in the mud of the well-trodden trail.  He was facing away from us.  We decided the best thing to do was to move off the trail, yet remain near to it so as not to get lost.  We weren’t sure of the distance needed between us and the moose to keep it calm.  He seemed to be enjoying his mud bath this hot summer day.  But this was a straight out, straight back trail, not a loop.  We weren’t about to blaze a new trail through the forest to find a roadway with five young children in tow.

We told the children to remain silent and ventured off the trail by at least ten feet from the animal, keeping a wide berth.  Stepping lightly, I held the beast’s gaze.  He eyed all seven of us, flicked his tail, shook his massive head.  His antlers made a twin gasped and I held her hand.  Slowly, in single file, we passed the animal, remaining off the trail until it turned out of sight of the moose.  

No matter how docile some of these wild animals may seem, as they nose around your campsite looking for food, make no mistake.  They are wild animals.  Most of the danger comes when people inadvertently slip between a mother and baby.  The pair could be a distance apart, but the mother is always watching. 

Maintain a distance between you and any wild animal you meet.  Keep eye contact if you can and move slowly.  It’s best if you just back up until you are out of sight and then turn around the way you came.  Unfortunately for us, we needed to get back to our van, so we needed to approach and pass the moose. 


Have you ever met a wild animal on a hike?