Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » Best wildlife encounters?


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Bogs and Bergs
(Islandized) - F

Locale: Newfoundland
Best wildlife encounters? on 02/24/2013 16:49:17 MST Print View

Rare bird, lynx kitten, bull moose fight?

Let's hear your cool stories and happy memories of meeting wildlife in the wild.

HK Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Best wildlife encounters on 02/24/2013 17:17:48 MST Print View

Bear: Had a black bear walk right in front of me on a trail going to Hamilton Mesa in Santa Fe's Peco Wilderness. Pretty silent, but by the time I fumbled for my camera, he had already gone down the steep slope towards Mora Flat's fishing grounds. '99

Eagle: Walking along the Verde River Trail in Arizona's Mazatzal, I looked over a cliff that was part of the US Eagle recovery program in the 70's I guess. So I'm looking down into a bend in a river and also down on a soaring eagle. '00

Fox: Walking down Baylor Canyon trail in Las Cruces, I saw something in the corner of my eye. Stopping I eventually made out a fox frozen waiting on my next move. Got a picture but you can barely make it out. '06

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Best wildlife encounters on 02/24/2013 17:31:02 MST Print View

Walking along Badger Creek trail East of Mt Hood, Goshawk thought I was too close to nest so it kept swooping down and hitting me in the head, knocked my hat off. Someone else posted a picture of head wound.

On Mt Hood a couple years ago, the next day I noticed bear tracks in snow about 50 feet from where I was sleeping, just sleeping on ground looking at stars.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Best wildlife encounters? on 02/24/2013 17:46:19 MST Print View

Alaska, July 2010.

As I stood in one spot, from right to left and out 150 yards, I counted 29 brown bears. They were all busy fishing, so they didn't care about me.

--B.G.--

Andrew U
(anarkhos) - M

Locale: Colorado, Wyoming
Re: Re: Best wildlife encounters on 02/24/2013 17:56:59 MST Print View

I was walking with my dog (leashed) near a large open field. I stopped to grab something out of my pack, turned around, and there was a coyote not 10 feet from us. It froze solid, just staring at me. I start flailing like a madman because the thought of a coyote pack eating my 18 pound dog is not appealing. It runs off, and I see at least half a dozen more coyotes behind some scrub brush that just keep staring at me.

Two things learned from this experience. First, I always carry some form of pepper spray with me (I have since used it on coyotes, they aren't quite as shy when they are starving). Second, I will never again lie to myself about the usefulness of my dog. He is cute, but probably the worst guard dog ever.

Matthew Black
(mtblack)
Re: Best wildlife encounters? on 02/24/2013 18:16:39 MST Print View

My first trip to the Trinity Alps almost two years ago: two does and a fawn came near our camp and were frolicking about fifteen feet away. They seemed either totally oblivious to us or were showing off. They just danced around for about two minutes.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
wildlife on 02/24/2013 18:44:52 MST Print View

fox

deer

deer2

Edited by dandydan on 02/24/2013 18:49:04 MST.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: wildlife on 02/24/2013 19:52:07 MST Print View

Just before Hole in the Wall, WCT.

He didn't hang around for very long.

Sea Lion

Harrison Carpenter
(carpenh) - M

Locale: St. Vrain River Valley
Re: wildlife on 02/24/2013 20:12:14 MST Print View

When I was camped out in a shelter on Isle Royale in 2001, I woke at first light to discover a deer mouse scavenging through my backpack. All my food was double-bagged, so I wondered what s/he was smelling. After about a minute, out the top of the bag comes the mouse, hauling my Chapstick. It was a little heavy for him/her, as s/he had to drag it, inch by inch, by backing up across the shelter floor. I decided to give the mouse the Chapstick, as an A for effort, but when I left the shelter later that morning it was on the ground right next to the side. I had to put it into my trash bag.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: wildlife on 02/24/2013 20:16:25 MST Print View

I've been very lucy. Bears, otters, elk, deer of all sorts. All kinds of birds of prey. Saw a hawk fly by with a kitten a couple of months back.
Mountain lion tracks around my tent in the morning was memorable. Seen Borregos so close. Seals and sea lions are easy to spot up here.

lion

Had a terribly foul stench at the Mattole trailhead.

whale
Here's the reason. A whale carcass. The University came out and removed the jawbone to determine cause of death. Then they just leave the rest for nature to deal with. All gone after the next winter storm. Still sat out for 4 months or so. P U !

Edited by kthompson on 02/25/2013 15:42:17 MST.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Best wildlife encounters? on 02/24/2013 20:36:54 MST Print View

The kids and I are the hot tub, on our deck. It is the first week of May, when the cow moose chase off last year's calf as they prepare to calf again. The yearlings, who have never been alone, wander around for a few days in sort of a "Will you be my friend?" mode. A yearling is browsing and coming closer. My 9 year old asks if he can pet the moose. Normally, I'd say, "Hell no!" but it is that first week of May, it is the only moose around, no mama moose to be seen. It is approaching us and can leave at anytime. He puts his nose near the hot rub and sniffs the water. My son reaches out and pets his nose a few times. The moose sits down 15 feet away and chews his cud for another 20 minutes. My wife gets home, gets her camera and documents the family in the hot tub with the moose 15 feet away, laying on the lawn.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Best wildlife encounters? Daddy! Chickens! on 02/24/2013 21:08:17 MST Print View

My daughter was having several girls over for a sleep over so I knew the best thing I could do was to take my then seven year old son camping to keep him out of their hair.

We take off for the Snake River with our kayak, fishing rods, and tent. Once we arrive at our campsite, I immediately started setting up the tent. Not even a minute into the set up I hear my elated son scream "DADDY! LOOK AT THE CHICKENS!" I turned around and saw some of the biggest wild turkeys I've ever seen. Not that turkeys are uncommon (just uncommon in areas where you can hunt for them) but seeing them through the eyes of a seven year old was a precious memory for me.

Next photo was on our way home from Banff. Not a wilderness encounter necessarily but I thought it was a pretty cool picture

:Bear

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
UL Creatures/ Best wildlife encounters? on 02/24/2013 21:13:49 MST Print View

4129

1780
UL creatures pretty much covers this genre.

Edited by Creachen on 02/24/2013 21:17:41 MST.

Gregory Allen
(Gallen1119) - M

Locale: Golden, CO
Re: Best wildlife encounters - Fall hike and beady little eyes watching us. on 02/24/2013 21:39:02 MST Print View

2012: Wife and did a fall overnight in November. Hiked in after work in the dark, just a couple of miles northwest of Golden. Brisk cool night. A few reflectors on trees marking a trail could be seen nearby. Then we notice the reflections in our minimalist headlights seemed to be more than reflectors. Turns out there were a about a dozen deer bedded down not 25 yards away. The beady eyes watched us pitch the tent and eat dinner. They were up at dawn and traveled right through our camp site, oblivious and not caring we were there. Didn't seemed they we bother them much, but I'm sure there we other beady eyes watching.

2010: Mountain biking in Waterton Canyon southwest of Denver with a couple of my kids. Three bighorn sheep had come down to the road to visit all those passing by. This is a very busy road, closed to cars and dogs, but full of bikes and day hikers every weekend. They would walk right up and nuzzle your hand until you would pet them. Everyone was good about not feeding them (as posted on signs), so I think they were just wanting some attention.

Edited by Gallen1119 on 02/24/2013 21:49:08 MST.

spelt the enigmatic
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Wildlife encounters on 02/24/2013 23:26:09 MST Print View

Seeing a wolf in Yellowstone was cool.

The bear I saw in Glacier was a treat. At the time I thought it was a brownish black bear but my visual memory is fuzzy...it may have been a smallish griz.

A bridge on a rails to trails path that ravens had made a nest in.

First time I saw a beaver, walking along the tracks by my house as a kid.

The morning I was in a treestand, and a flock of turkeys spooked the deer I was watching, then a black bear spooked the turkeys.

Paddling on the Des Moines River and saw my first western bluebird.

First pika and marmot on my first hike in CO.

Watching fish while diving never gets old...

Really I am just fascinated by wildlife. I will sit or stand for minutes or hours watching if I get the chance.

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Best Wildlife Encounters on 02/25/2013 11:36:01 MST Print View

Waking up on a beach early one morning on the far north coast of CA to multiple Elk eating the dune grass right outside the tent.

Getting woken up while sleeping on the back deck of my boat while anchored off a remote stretch of coastline by a CA sea lion that's jumped up onto the boat and is sitting on my feet with me trapped inside my bivy.

Sharing remote beaches in central CA with huge Elephant Seals. Seeing Orca and numerous other whales cruise the Santa Barbara Channel on our way to/from Channel Islands National Park.

Marauding wild pigs raiding the campsites in the middle of the night in the Channel Islands National Park. Lots of fearless Island foxes and spotted skunks (indigenous to the Channel Islands) wandering around in the years since the pigs were eradicated.

Crazy wildlife everywhere while camping my way around Australia for 4 months... Wombats and duck-billed platypus in the Blue Mountains; Guana lizards on Whitsunday Island; Hissing Blue Crawfish in Lamington National Park, Koala Bears hanging in the trees in Noosa National Park, wallabies stealing food right off your lap; giant fruit bats hanging from Eucalyptus overhead hissing at you...

In NZ, Kea (giant alpine parrots) getting into anything left unattended (packs, shoes, etc), even for a moment.

Countless black bear, bobcat, coyote sightings in my local backcountry. Hearing a nearby mountain lion crying in the middle of the night; makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand straight up.

Dena Kelley
(EagleRiverDee) - M

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
Re "Best wildlife encounters?" on 02/25/2013 12:45:58 MST Print View

I had a black bear pop his head out of the grass in the meadow next to the trail- he was about 20' away.

I saw a Grizzly running hell bent for leather across a mountain side- the mosquitoes were really bad that day and suspect it was running to get away from them. I do the same thing some times.

I've been just feet away from a Mountain Goat family with kids at the top of a mountain. That was pretty neat.

Dall sheep- often encounter these on hikes. They don't stay exclusively in the mountains- they will often come to low ground to forage for food. I've hiked above them on one occasion on a mountain hike, and had them come down to the lowlands for me 3 times so far.

Too many moose encounters to count. Some more in the vein of terrifying than "best" but always memorable. Perhaps the most memorable was a week after hunting season I was out and counted over 50 moose in 1 square mile. A bull moose with his harem of 7-8 ladies, a few bull moose standing around wishing, another bull with his harem, and on and on.

Had a very confused lone Caribou walk practically up to me while I was sitting one day. When it realized what I was, it made a quick beeline in the opposite direction.

Edited by EagleRiverDee on 02/25/2013 12:47:13 MST.

Brandon =Þ
(Beeen) - MLife

Locale: California
Almost trampled. on 02/25/2013 12:49:19 MST Print View

I was cowboy camping in Ansel Adams Wilderness, my friend was already sleeping tucked into his bag with a bug net on his head (essentially trapped and blind) and as I was just about to get into my sleeping bag, when I began to hear the fairly aggressive sound of bushes shaking and twigs breaking, followed by the heavy beat of hooves or pads coming our way. I began yelling "yah, yah, go away bear" while waving my arms around, and a moment later a bunch of shapes came busting through the darkness right towards us, and I just managed to turn a small group of mule dear before they could take a shortcut through our camp and over my buddy.

My friend scrambled to get free of this death sack and turned to try and see what the hell was happening just as the deer vanished back into the shrubbery that they materialized out of a moment before. This being his first backpacking trip, and hearing me screaming the word "bear" he was of course full of questions and concerns. So, I of course lied to him while getting inside my sleeping bag claiming, "I didn't know for sure, probably just a bear".

Bogs and Bergs
(Islandized) - F

Locale: Newfoundland
Best wildlife encounters on 02/25/2013 17:11:25 MST Print View

Doesn't seem right to start a story thread and not contribute. My problem (and blessing!) is deciding what to tell. Solo off-trail walking in remote parts of eastern Canada means lots of these experiences, for sure. I'd ramble on and bore you all to tears.

So I'll pick a species: white-tailed deer (moose, caribou, bear, fox, lynx, hawk, owl and whale stories will just have to wait).

1) Camped under alder bushes and had just settled into the sleeping bag when a deer walked up and started eating the very bush I was under. Kee-runch! Chomp. Chomp. Chomp. GLURK! Kee-runch... Nifty at first, irritating 20 minutes later, hilarious a few minutes after that. Damn noisy neighbours, I gotta get some sleep here!

2) Made many trips to an area with a small pond, open grassy field on one side, woods on the other. I'd get up in the dark, make coffee, and hide in the bushes before first light. Foxes, herons, otters, osprey, muskrat, hummingbirds, etc. etc. And deer. One morning at dawn I watched a doe nurse a tiny spotted fawn. Aww. Months later, same spot, likely the same deer, but it was weaning time! Little one went bouncing up to mom and she reared up and smacked him/her upside the head. Poor little thing shook it off and ate a tree instead. Tough love out there.

Great stories so far, more please!

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Best wildlife encounters? on 02/25/2013 18:00:04 MST Print View

I was on a trail in Yosemite National Park, just walking along and minding my own business. Suddenly I saw a doe deer fifty feet off to my right, so I pulled my camera with long lens and started clicking away. The doe just stood there, even though she saw me, and that seemed odd. Then I looked more closely and saw some smaller legs underneath. Her newborn spotted fawn was getting milk. Then the doe walked away, and the little fawn was still standing there with milk running down from its mouth. It stared at me for a few seconds and then walked off looking for its mother. Awww.

--B.G.--

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Best wildlife encounters? on 02/25/2013 18:14:35 MST Print View

There was the moose that walked right in front of us during the trek along the Teton Crest. And the coyotes Tom and I saw in the Sierras, and the four bears during one trek on the Black Forest Trail (one right in the middle of the trail eating something).

But my favorite story was when a buddy and I were riding our bikes around Ireland. We were pretty much out in the middle of nowhere, with very few houses and/or traffic, when, late in the day, we happened upon a bull in the middle of the road. It must have escaped from an area farm. And it was quite ornery. We started to ride toward it, and it lowered it's head and advanced. We stopped. Figuring we'd be less 'irritating' if we dismounted, we began slowly walking, trying to get past it. But it once again lowered it's head, stamped it's foot a time or two, and advanced again. We backed off quickly.

We were in a bit of a quandary. It was getting late, and we still had some miles to the campground. Going back wasn't really an option, as there was nothing behind us for miles. But every time we tried to go way around it, it made it quite clear that it wasn't going to allow us to do that. Suddenly we heard a truck off in the distance behind us. "Get ready!" I yelled! Thomi knew what I meant.

We backed up quite a bit, the bull watching us the whole time. Then we got a running start as the truck approached, and rode 'with' the truck past the bull, keeping the truck between us and the bull. Never pedaled so fast in my life! But we made it, and began laughing loudly as we continued on our way to the campground.

Fun times.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
Best wildlife encounters on 02/25/2013 18:25:48 MST Print View

bear
Charged by this grizzly in Alaska on account of a dispute over some fish, not one of my best encounters.

beaver
This was actually my favorite. On the NPT in the Adirondacks, the trail crosses right over the top of a number of beaver dams. This guy did not appreciate that much, and did his best to dissuade me. He repeatedly swam up to me, turned upside down, and whapped the water with his tail as he dove under, soon surfacing to see if he had chased me off. It was the first time I had seen this defensive behavior and I was enthralled. Still, not wanting to be the first backpacker mauled by beaver, I ultimately moved on.

rowan !
(romonster) - M

Locale: SF Bay Area
Scary creatures in the night... on 02/25/2013 23:50:35 MST Print View

Here's one from long ago. I was 17, and decided to spend a week camping alone on some land owned by friends of my parents in the Colorado Rockies. Winter was not quite over, and there was a light covering of snow on the ground. Sometimes I could hear coyotes howling on the surrounding hills. During one night I heard footsteps going around and around my tent. I was terrified, had visions of a pack of coyotes circling closer and closer, ripping open my tent and eating me! Eventually they left and I fell asleep. The next morning I peeked outside, and in the snow I saw a neat circle of rabbit tracks around my tent!

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Best wildlife encounters? on 02/26/2013 00:39:29 MST Print View

Killer Whales (Orca's) have provided a few exciting encounters for me.

I was fly fishing (wading waist deep) off the beach when two transient Killer whales suddenly appeared in front of me. Transient whales are known for eating mammals rather than fish, so I decided to back out of the water and watch the show from a safe place (I've seen the films of killer whales beaching themselves to get seals and I just can't get that picture out of my brain... they always make me nervous when they are around).

I followed them along the beach to a little cove where they went into high gear. They raced around like mad for a minute or two, kicking up quite a turbulence in the water when suddenly a seal went cart-wheeling through the air. That ended the excitement (in the water at least), and I just stood there with my mouth hanging open as they quickly finished their lunch and swam off. I don't take a camera when I fish alone but I very much regretted than decision on that trip.

Killer whales will often come very close to us when we are fishing. I took this photo while we were fishing close to shore and was surprised that the whale would come between us and the shore. Unfortunately, that was the end of my fishing (fish vanish when the whales arrive).

Orca

Hugh Teegan
(hteegan) - MLife
Lots but best was when the wildlife just wanted to hike with me.... on 02/26/2013 02:16:52 MST Print View

Last year while hiking solo in Mount Rainier National Park I was joined by this guyWell, Hi there! following along on the trail. At first he went around me and I waited about ten minutes to let him get away before continuing but somehow he showed up behind me againHello again.
I continued walking (backwards) and the bear continued to follow. Every time I stopped the bear would become intensely interested in something beside the trailI wonder what's under that rock? but the bear would immediately resume following me when I started to move againI'm with ya. Though he was briefly distracted by the wonderful view from this pointWow - look at this! BTW I got my claws done whaddyathink?
...and off we go againWait for me!
I was coming to a downhill section of trail where it would be difficult to walk backwards so I said goodbye, turned around and walked away. Not sure why I wasn't scared but I probably should have been.

Edited by hteegan on 02/26/2013 02:22:20 MST.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Swimming Lessons on 02/26/2013 05:30:06 MST Print View

I drove up to Banff with my family last year. Even though I've been to the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, and Banff a couple times each in addition to the fact that I've camped throughout Idaho and Washington, I must wear some form of natural Moose repellent as I'd never seen one in the wild. I was determined that come heck or high water I would finally find one.

First day in the park, we saw this cow moose and her calf wading through the stream. At one point, the current started to get the best of the calf but the mother calmly waited for it and allowed for the calf to work through the challenge. I'm usually guilty of overanalyzing everything but I thought that she set a pretty good example for parents everywhere.

.Meese

Paul Mountford
(Sparticus) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic Canada
Re: Scary creatures in the night... on 02/26/2013 05:58:36 MST Print View

That one made me smile at work!

I had a similar experience. I was hiking on the Juan de Fuca Marine on Vancouver Island. I had a very late start to my hike and set up my hammock around midnight for the very first time. Trying to get comfortable in a hammock, it took me a while to fall asleep. I finally go to sleep with thoughts of “bear burrito” on my mind. I wake up in the morning and remember a very vivid dream. In the dream I was in my hammock with my face pressed up against the No-see um mesh netting. I open my eyes and see a bear snout sniffing me on the other side of the netting. In the dream I say to myself – no hasty movements are in order.

I’m still a little unsettled by that dream as I’m packing up my hammock. As I go to leave, and about 5 feet from my hammock I find a steaming fresh pile of bear p o o h!

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Wildlife Encounters in PA on 02/26/2013 09:24:46 MST Print View

I'm okay seeing snakes along the trail as long as I see or hear them before I'm on top of them. On one stretch of the West Rim Trail in PA a couple of years ago I almost stepped on three of them on the trail in the space of about 10 minutes. I let someone else take the lead after that!

We were hiking on the Mid State Trail in June 2011 along the ridgetop above Rte. 322 and the trail was completely overgrown. I almost kicked a porcupine in his tail as he scurried along in front of me. I didn't see him until the guy behind me saw him scoot off the trail right in front of my foot.

He then climbed a small 6-foot tree right next to the trail to get away from us...

Porcupine along the MST

My other favorite was along the Old Loggers Path in May 2010. On our second day we were hiking along one of the old railroad beds with a mile-long straight stretch. I was in the lead and spotted a hiker coming towards us with a very unusual gait. Shortly after that I realized it was a bear with her three cubs.

Bears on the OLP

It's not easy to see (my little Olympus camera was zoomed to its 7x max), but one of the cubs is actually a blonde. Right after I took this picture she led her crew uphill off the trail to avoid us. We didn't mind.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Wild life encounters on 02/26/2013 10:35:59 MST Print View

Here is my favorite marmot, at the Swiftcurrent lookout in GNP:

Swiftcurrent marmot

In 2006, I was adopted by a family of goats at Lake Ellen Wilson in GNP. They followed my every move for the afternoon, evening, and all the next morning. I'm convinced that goats don't sleep, as they were tripping over the guy lines of my Squall 2 all night.

Goat family

The next morning, they escorted me up Gunsight Pass. They would pass me, wait off the side of the trail for me to catch up, let me get ahead of them, and then come bounding by again. It was like a game to them.

Goat escort

At the pass, I was about to take a photo of Gunsight Lake, where I was headed. Momma goat grunted something about how I needed to take my photo from a different spot. (Lake Ellen Wilson is behind her)

Goat mom at pass

She was right:

Gunsight Lake from the pass

So I encouraged her to follow me down the trail to Gunsight Lake. She just grunted, and immediately joined her kids and they all bounded back down to Lake Ellen Wilson. Apparently the pass was the border of their domain, and they were just out for a jaunt, to be sure that I left their turf in proper fashion. Fun stuff...

A week later, I was camping at Kootenai Lakes in the north of GNP. Lots of moose there. In the morning, I was the last hiker to leave the camping area, as I had plenty of time to hike the 2-3 miles back to Goat Haunt to catch my boat ride back to Waterton. I sat on a log on the lake shore, watching a mother moose and her yearling on the other side. All of a sudden she moved directly toward me. I figured she was just going to eat some grass growing in the lake. But she and the yearling kept coming. Back at my campsite my pack was ready to put on. I decided that when she got to the middle of the lake, she would have to swim, which would slow her down and give me time to get to my pack and get out of there. The thing is, that lake was only maybe 2-3 deep in the middle, and she came across quickly. By this time I realized that she felt I was her biggest problem. I hurried back to the campsite, looked for a good tree to maybe climb (there wasn't one), pulled out my 4" Spyderco blade and pepper spray, and prepared to make my feeble stand. When she got to the trail that rings the lake, maybe 50 feet from my campsite, she grunted to her yearling to stop there, and then another, different grunt to instruct her baby to move down the trail away from me. Then she quickly bounded over thick and high deadfall to get right in my face. She grunted all sorts of things, dug at the ground with her front hooves, sprayed moose-spit on me (she was just 15 feet away), and generally let me know that I was about to be dead meat. At that point, I realized my knife and pepper spray might be useless--the spray might just anger her more, goofy as moose are, and about the only good that knife could do is let me slice my own throat to lessen the impending pain. I kept talking to her in sweet, soft tones, and after a few minutes she bagan to settle down. Finally, she let out a loud and forceful "HAR-UMPH," then she abruptly and quickly bounded back over the deadfall to join her yearling. That was the first moose word that I learned, which I think means "There, you sombitch, clean your shorts, get out of here, and tell everybody you see to never, ever come to my lake!" (BPL doesn't accept TIFF images; also, no yearling moose were harmed during this wildlife encounter).

OK, so about 3 weeks after the moose adventure, I was in Yellowstone. I came upon a huge female bison , which was standing right in the middle of the trail, staring at me. There was a steep dropoff to my left, and a serious pile of deadfall to my right behind the thick brush that lined the trail. To give her a wide berth, I had to climb up onto the deadfall, and try to inch my way past her. I was stepping from one 10" log to another, using trekking poles to keep my balance 3-4 feet above the ground. It was tiresome, and also a bit dangerous, as I was concerned about blowing out a knee somehow. After going maybe 50 yards in 20 minutes, I decided I was probably well past her. When I got back to the trail, there she was--looking at me as before. She had followed me, but she got to use the trail. I had no choice but to go back into the deadfall maze and keep doing it. After another 75 yards or so of that slow grunt atop the logs, I had a better view of the trail this time, and it seemed like she wasn't around now, but rather moved away from the trail. I guess she lost interest.

Bison

In 2011, I was hiking solo to Iceberg Lake in GNP. There was no one else around, so I made lots of noise and sang my songs. I came to a curved brushy corridor that was maybe 7 feet tall, and I could only see 30-40 feet ahead. That's when I met the griz, face to face. It seemed a little confused, so I talked sweetly and slowly backed up. When I got out of the brush and back to the open trail, I scooted uphill maybe 100 feet until I was pinned by a steep snow field. I waited there, pepper spray in hand. After several minutes, here came the bear, casually ambling down the trail. I kept quiet and just watched it go by.

Griz mom

After it passed, I decided it would be safe to resume my hike in the opposite direction. When I took my first step toward the trail, I saw the first of that bear's cubs. There were 3 of them in all. After they made it past me, I was about to slip in behind them and continue my hike. But one of the cubs got curious and decided to come up to see who/what I was. Mom saw this and kept a very watchful eye on things.

Curuious cub

When the cub got to within 40 feet of me I knew I had to do something, and fast. So I started screaming at it. Mom finally let out a low grunt, and the baby did a quick about-face and rejoined the siblings. Then they all moved on down the trail. All's well that ends well.

Bears leaving

Last summer, at Cracker Lake in GNP, I had a midnight duty to perform. I found a flat rock, did my business, and got back into my bag. Sometime later, I woke up to what had to be the sound of a griz digging and rooting near my tent. Turned out it was this guy:

Cracker goat

He was the campsite's resident goat, getting his human urine however/whenever he can. Like I said, I don't think goats sleep.

Final story: 3 days later, I was at the Morningstar campsite in GNP. I set up my Contrail in late afternoon, and I was the first camper to arrive. I was inside the tent, lying on my stomach head first to fiddle with the pad at the foot of the tent. I heard a huge splash in the lake that I was camped by. I quickly slithered back out to meet this guy:

Morningstar moose

He decided to come closer to check me out. Not trusting any moose, ever, and despising them all for being so territorial and goofy, I slipped over to the campground's outhouse where I might find some protection. It turned out to be a non-event, and my moose went somewhere else. But there actually were 4 adult males in all, and they all bedded down right on the trail between the tent sites and that outhouse. Nobody used the privy that night, and the guys all chose to rather bait any goats that might be nearby instead.

Sorry for this endless post, folks. I had nothing better to do, since the stock market is so silly today.

(Edit: massive number of spelling/syntax errors)

Edited by Zia-Grill-Guy on 02/27/2013 16:07:45 MST.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Wild life encounters on 02/26/2013 10:54:31 MST Print View

Gary, Beautiful photos!

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Wildlife encounters on 02/26/2013 11:16:02 MST Print View

Thanks, Link!

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Various on 02/26/2013 12:53:39 MST Print View

I was hiking the Tatoosh Range in Rainier NP when I topped out on one of the peaks and almost ran into a Mountian goat. He was not amused.

I had a black bear cub "charge" me in Lost Creek Wilderness. In reality the little guy just had no idea that I was there while he was zipping down the trail at top speed- evidently for the simple joy of it. I started screaming at him when he was twenty feet away and he practically jumped out of his skin and tore off into the bush, leaving me wondering "where's momma?"

I had a Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel steal my disposable camera on top of Burroughs Mountain, again in Rainier NP. Evidently the little b@$s+@rd thought it was edible or something. I got into Ta tug-of-war with him, with him latched onto a rock with all four claws and growling at me.

I had some sea lions try to send me for a swim while kayaking in Monterrey Bay back in 1990. I think they were just being playful, but having half a dozen sea lions ramming you does get one's attention.

Same timeframe- I had a Sea Otter climb onto the deck of my kayak, rub its belly, and start sunning itself. Since they are endangered you had to keep more that 50 yards from them, so I started shouting at him "Hey, you're gonna get me in trouble!" and splashed him with my paddle. He gave me a dirty look, then returned to sunning himself.

Tyler Barcelli
(youngster) - M

Locale: Southeast
Wildlife on 02/26/2013 17:32:27 MST Print View

Wow awesome pictures and stories! Because of my school studies and job, I especially enjoy the bird sightings. I think for me my number one animal sighting was when I was trail-running when I briefly lived in Arizona some years ago. As I stopped to grab a drink I happened to see one of my all time favorite birds/stories of successful human interference. I saw 2 California Condors perched no more than 50 yards away. It was awesome but unfortunately I didn't have a camera.

Here's another one of my local favorite birds. Around where I live the grey color morph isn't as common so this was nice to see. Photo taken on the AT north of NOC.Eastern Screech Owl

Brendan Swihart
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Re: Wildlife on 02/26/2013 18:18:51 MST Print View

Love reading these. Gary, your bear story is great. A few of my favs:

A bobcat and three kittens last year on our way to a jobsite early in the morning. We watched them play in some Junipers for a while before they disappeared. Of course all cameras were in the back of the truck.

Andean condors in Ecuador.

I never tire of pronghorns.

Part of my work is raptor nest surveys and they're been some crazy encounters with that.

I totally fantasize about a mountain lion encounter. Someday, I hope.

I'll add to Tyler's owl shot. Saw-whet:owl

I get pretty excited about plants too, but I'll save that for another day.

Tyler Barcelli
(youngster) - M

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Wildlife on 02/26/2013 18:30:29 MST Print View

Brendan that's an amazing shot. I'm currently working at a raptor rehab clinic and I remember getting in my first Saw-whet last year. It immediately became one of my favorite birds. I'm partial to owls, they just seem to have so much personality. I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to see many amazing raptors up close.

Brendan Swihart
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
owls on 02/26/2013 18:36:45 MST Print View

Yeah I love owls. Saw-whets are awesome. They're strangely tame.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
wildlife on 02/26/2013 20:13:35 MST Print View

After a night at a beautiful camp in the Nelson Lakes National Park I was buzzed by a New Zealand falcon. I was completely alone, it was a perfect morning and made for an unforgetable moment.

I have been lucky enough to have many wonderful wildlife experiences during the decade I worked on and off as a freelance photographer and writer. However the encounter was my most memorable whilst hiking.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Wildlife...of the aquatic variety. on 02/26/2013 21:00:19 MST Print View

I know we're talking backpacking...but this happened Tuesday of last week at about 6:45 AM so I have to tell it...

I paddled out at my local before-work surf spot. I'm the first surfer in the water, waves are chest high, and it's looking to be a fun morning.

I notice a good deal of bird activity, pelicans and gulls mostly, about 100 meters out on my 10 o'clock. All diving and squabbling over something in the water.

Three more surfers are now in the water, but they're about 300 meters down the beach from me.

I catch a few waves, noting that the bird commotion hasn't died down yet. Seals or sea lions (too far to tell) have now joined the fray, a few black heads popping up now and then. At first I thought there was a large school of fish everything might have been feeding on, but given the location of the action never changed, I began to suspect there was something dead in the water out there and they were scavenging. I've seen this deep sea fishing.

I catch another wave.

Paddling back out this time, I see a dorsal fin break the water, only 25 meters away on my 1 o'clock. It's coming in my general direction, into more shallow water.

My first instinct is that it's a dolphin; we get a lot of them out with us in the mornings and they get within a few feet of you.

That image is immediately dispelled when I see it turn slightly and present a better profile of the dorsal- which was broad and triangular in shape, not curved like a dolphin's. It then began to accelerate for about 5 meters in a rapid, side-to-side and tightening zigzag.

At this point the panic sets in as I realize I'm in the water with a shark that was likely bigger than me. It's back broke the surface pushing water; within 20 meters, it was clear and close enough to see that it was as wide as my own shoulders, at least. The dorsal appeared about one foot tall. After the brief acceleration on the surface it dove. I saw a 6" tip of a vertical caudal fin break the surface at the end of the dive.

All this happened in a few seconds while I was sitting...I spun my board, laid down, and started stroking like a maniac towards shore. I missed the first wave coming in, but caught the second, riding it all the way into the shallows on my belly. The whole way I'm panicked the thing will overtake me, worried it'll give chase. I ran out of the water like a scared little kid, not letting my guard down until I was sitting on the sand. I doubt it was interested in me, but I was not going to wait around and see.

I watched for another 10-15 minutes, but no more sign of it.

I did end up getting back in the water, but much further down the beach, closer to the other surfers. They hadn't seen it and I figured, honestly, what are the chances? The session was a bit short-lived though; I blew all the paddling strength I had in the dash back into shore and my nerves were a little shot from adrenaline.

About 1.5 months ago, a couple separate white sharks were caught or sighted in shallow water within 2 weeks of each other only a few miles from where I was surfing during this encounter. It might have been a mako, but I'm betting it was a juvenile white shark.

Edited by xnomanx on 02/26/2013 21:04:42 MST.

Daniel Paladino
(dtpaladino) - F - MLife

Locale: Northern Rockies
Owls on 02/26/2013 22:33:34 MST Print View

Brendan - Great saw whet photo! You don't often see them in the wild. I spent a few months volunteering at the Montana Raptor Conservation Center and became close with their half blind northern saw whet education bird. Very mellow birds, until you put a mouse in front of them!

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Wildlife... Of the aquatic variety on 02/26/2013 23:41:57 MST Print View

@ Craig

Spooky story, I know just how you felt... A couple years back I had two close encounters with the landlord within about a month of one another during a couple of long coastal paddles.

The first one was mid channel during the Catalina Classic paddleboard race. A good sized Mako circled me twice while my escort boat watched with amusement from about 200 yards away.

A month later I got bumped by what I believe to be a juvenile white off Goleta during a particularly nasty day. My buddy witnessed the whole thing. We were both completely freaked out but had to continue our paddle since we were a mile or two offshore and the conditions were too rough to turn around or head in. Longest 10 miles of my life. I'm still spooked from that experience.

The next year I did the Molokai to Oahu paddleboard race. Mid crossing, a big gray shadow appeared directly underneath me. I freaked out and was yelling and waving for my escort boat... Turned out to only be a pod of dolphins. Another paddler that year got shadowed by a large tiger shark for a bit off Molokai; glad it wasn't me!

Shark stories fall into not-so great wildlife encounters category.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Best wildlife encounters? on 02/27/2013 00:05:46 MST Print View

We came within throwing distance of mountain goats in Denali National Park. They weren't concerned with us at all.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Wildlife...of the aquatic variety. on 02/27/2013 00:27:59 MST Print View

My most memorable sightings were from the cockpit of my kayak. I had a gray whale surface 10' off my quarter, so I didn't see it right away. I heard it blow and turned to see the tail going down. Talk about amazing! I padded the other direction a bit and watched it work its way around a bay, following the six fathom line on my chart. There must have been food in the mud at that depth.

I've seen Orcas, lots of seals, river otters, schools of Dall's porpoise. And the birds: great blue herons, eagles, osprey, too many kinds of gulls to identify, pelicans, oyster catchers and all the small wading birds and ducks.

I remember floating out the Nisqually River delta with the tide. With the current, there was no need to paddle so I sat still and quiet to have a harbor seal surface 6' away, it's sleek head sliding up out of the water to surprise me, and looking at me with huge dark eyes. I can see where the myths and legends of the seal people came from.

On the land side, I've seen lots of deer, elk, a bobcat, black bears at distance, mountain goats, rabbits, chipmunks and squirrels. Lots of birds too.

Hummingbirds are one of my favorites. My father put out feeders around his cabin, bringing them in large numbers and 4 or 5 species. If you went outside wearing a flowery Hawaiian shirt, they would fly right up to check you out. There too, I can see where fairy legends came from-- perhaps Tinkerbell was really a hummingbird.

Last year we went to Boundary Bay in BC Canada to see the snowy owls. Awesome birds. The snow geese migrate through here. Watching the huge birds land in wave after wave at sunset is quite a sight.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Craig.... on 02/27/2013 13:54:24 MST Print View

We often live at nature's mercy. Glad you got out safe.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/new-zealand-shark-attack-swimmer-1732991

Edited by T.L. on 02/27/2013 13:54:57 MST.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Craig.... on 02/27/2013 14:34:47 MST Print View

There are some sharky areas down here, but I feel for Northern Californians/Pacific Northwesterners.


But on the whole, I think the KFC Double Down is far more dangerous to our species than any of the predators we're talking about here.

1

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Wildlife... on 02/27/2013 16:39:57 MST Print View

>> I think the KFC Double Down is far more dangerous to our species than any of the predators we're talking about here. <<

Very true, but I'd much prefer eating myself to death over being eaten to death.

Surfers in my area are more likely to die from frost bite than shark bite.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Wildlife on 02/27/2013 17:19:26 MST Print View

I took my 3 boys to Yellowstone a few years ago. We decided to hike up Mt. Washburn. We saw a grizzly rooting around very near the trailhead. We were all pretty excited. The real excitement started though on our way down. There was a heard of probably 70 of these creatures, Bighorn Sheep I believe, right on the trail. They were regularly doing these hear butts within 10-20 feet. It was an amazing show.

Head butting Sheep

We saw a lot of wildlife in Yellowstone, but this up close encounter still stands out.

On a trip to Costa Rica, near Montezuma, I walked with my boys down a deserted stretch of beach. It was really hot so we ducked back into the trees a bit. There was a playful group of Capuchins enjoying a tangled web of branches. We watched until they got tired and rested on this branch.

Capuchins of Montezuma

When the monkeys were done, my boys climbed the tangle.

Stuart R
(Scunnered) - F

Locale: Scotland
Re: Scary creatures in the night... on 02/28/2013 06:04:01 MST Print View

I remember several years ago being kept awake by the sound of a snipe drumming directly overhead. It's a really eeire noise at night if you have not heard it before.
https://soundcloud.com/hugh-harrop/snipe-drumming

Edited by Scunnered on 02/28/2013 14:40:06 MST.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Best wildlife encounters? on 02/28/2013 06:16:25 MST Print View

Not my encounter (unfortunately) and yes, this was a "tourist activity" but this would rate very high for me

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Scary creatures in the night... on 02/28/2013 09:03:27 MST Print View

How about a couple raccoons fighting in a tree directly over your tent? Like a cat fight with the volume at 11.

Bogs and Bergs
(Islandized) - F

Locale: Newfoundland
wildlife on 02/28/2013 10:14:46 MST Print View

Dale, that would probably beat my munching deer. I sure was surprised how loudly deer swallow, though.

Here's one where the animal had me stumped. I was solo and days from anywhere, made a base camp and spent over a week dayhiking from it. I became aware the second day that a red fox lived there. Glimpses at first, then she started hiding in ferns and watching me (I'd bet money she'd never seen a human before). I pretended not to notice, and made sure the food was secure. One morning while it was still dark I went and sat in the bushes beside the nearby pond. A small spit of land extended into the pond in front of me. First light and the fox came through the bushes beside me, upwind, walked out on the spit, yawned, stretched, scratched, washed, and only then realized I was there. Uh-oh. Getting out meant coming even closer to me. I made a big show of not paying any attention to her, and she relaxed, even washed some more. I soon turned my back to let her get away unseen.

Well, back at camp later that day, I guess she figured I'd proven myself and now we were friends. She invited me to play! Hopped around me like a bunny and then did the foreleg-stretch deep bow that all dogs do to initiate play. I had no idea what to do. I didn't think she'd fetch. No potential tug-of-war toys around. Didn't want to risk a play-nip getting infected, given how far out I was, so wrestling seemed like a bad idea. Stumped. I stared at her for a bit and walked away. Still feel bad about it.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
bear on 02/28/2013 11:10:52 MST Print View

Not backpacking, but I took this video as the wife and I were up in a tree stand. Sorry for the messed up video at the end. Was more concerned with the bear on its hind legs about to climb the tree we're in.

https://vimeo.com/60753596

Nelson Sherry
(nsherry61)

Locale: Mid-Willamette Valley
Too many to remember . . . on 02/28/2013 21:09:09 MST Print View

Bears, eagles, fish, deer, skate, ground squirel . . .

Denali Nat Park 1989ish: My friend and I were on a day hike. We were well educated about best practices in the Park and around bears, but, being young men, when we saw fresh bear sign, we just walked on making lots of noise talking about whatever came to our mind. As we walked around a corner along the creek bed we were following, there in front of us was a sow grizzly and two spring cubs about 20 feet in front of us. Oh crap. The sow looked up from eating her berries, then put her head back down and kept eating. The two cubs looked up and started coming toward us and following us as we backed away . . . double crap, they were maybe 6 feet in front of us at the closest. Finally the cubs quit following us when we backed across the creek and left the area. Mom didn't seem the least bit concerned!

Denali Nat Park, the next summer: My soon-to-be-wife and I were hiking on a peak above the park hotel when an arctic ground squirrel came up to my wife and started licking her shin, and kept doing so for several minutes.

Kachimak Bay Alaska ~1988: Spent two days with Art Wolfe photographing an eagles nest with two fledgling eagles in it that was in the top of a tree about 30 feet out and below the top of the cliff where we sat in a hastily made blind.

Kachimak Bay, same summer: Went fishing at the head of an inlet where the red salmon were running and we were wading through equal parts fish and water, picking the fish up by their tails, smacking their heads on the rocks and putting them in five gallon buckets to take back to the smoker.

Olympic National Park ~1986: Walking near the top of a ridge several miles above sol duc hot springs we passed a doe nursing her fawn about 20 feet off the trail. As we walked by, she watched us, but didn't move. Wow!

Friday Harbor WA: While scuba diving of the dock at Friday Harbor Laboratory, as I descended to the point one of my fins touched the bottom, a big 3 or 4 foot across skate wiggled out from underneath me foot.

And, oh so many more stories . . .

seth mcalister
(sethmcalister) - F

Locale: New Hampshire
Best Wildlife Encounter on 03/01/2013 13:33:03 MST Print View

I was fishing with my family in northern Maine a few years ago. We rounded the corner of the road only to see about four deer, two bucks and two does. As we began to round the corner, the two does, reared up and began fighting with the front legs.

We all hear about bucks fighting for their does, but I'd never heard, let alone, seen two does fighting. Espcially considering it looked just like a girl slap fight.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Best wildlife encounter on 03/01/2013 14:55:43 MST Print View

I can't remember her name, but it was quite a night. ;0)

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Best wildlife encounter on 03/01/2013 15:16:20 MST Print View

Tom, I was waiting since the first post for that one- I'm totally surprised it took 3 pages.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Best wildlife encounter on 03/01/2013 15:23:11 MST Print View

"Tom, I was waiting since the first post for that one- I'm totally surprised it took 3 pages."

It takes me a little longer to react as I age, Tad. I've got to admit, it was low hanging fruit. I'm surprised the Idester didn't beat me to the punch. ;0)

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Re: Re: Best wildlife encounter on 03/01/2013 15:59:03 MST Print View

I've had 4 good ones.

The first being a bear waking me up smelling the back of my head (yes I yelled like a little girl).


I spent 2+ days at lake Sunrise at the camp before heading up to Whitney. While playing cards and eating some pistachios, I had a squirrel pulling back at my cards trying to get to the pistachios.


While coming down the switchbacks on Bubbs creek on the Rea Lakes Loop I came across a bear that was heading up. As there was nowhere for the bear to go but at least a mile back I didn't feel the need for chasing it down the hill. I just got out of the way and went on the other side of a bush. The bear must have been satisfied with my interpretation of getting out of the way. It walked by my so close i could have reached over and patted it on the head.


While on a 70 mile loop in the Sierras, a big 6 or so point deer ran right in front of me. I was using a 35 mm disposable camera and was down to my last picture. He stuck around and I tried to get a picture of him from bout 20' but he took off the last second.
I took a picture of the moon coming up over the ridge and thought that was that.
I was also sleeping at that location and starting setting up my tarp within a few minutes.
Low and behold, i look up and the deer is 6 feet away from me. Not only that, he stuck around for the next 15 minutes until I went a started a small fire. The whole time he was within 4-10 feet away from me.
I was so nervous about the huge rack on him. All he had to do was take one step and lower his horns and I was dead. I had an ice ax in my hand the whole time ready for the fight to the death.
The next day I noticed poo everywhere around and realized, he and the fawn I saw that morning slept just a few yards from where I had set up.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Best wildlife encounter on 03/01/2013 17:51:58 MST Print View

Grayson Highlands "wild" ponies

And then there was the one that I did not see.

I was in the lead and Lazarus was following a short distance behind. We were nothbound and nearing Iron Mountain Shelter on the AT when I apparently frightened an unnoticed cub bear up a tree. As the cub was descending the tree Lazarus happened along and saw the cub making a bee line for a less crowded area. ;-)

Party On,

Newton

Bob Shaver
(rshaver) - F

Locale: West
A friendly pika on 03/05/2013 09:35:46 MST Print View

This little guy approached four of our group, including a dog, went around us off the trail, then crossed the trail behind us as we stood motionless.

Pika in Sawtooths of Idaho

HElinTexas C
(Helintexas) - MLife
Several cool sightings on 03/19/2013 20:31:20 MDT Print View

I went to Yellowstone in June this year. I had several cool sightings while backpacking.....

I had went to a ranger talk at Canyon campground the first night I was in the park. The talk was on animals of Yellowston...I was thrilled! Other than the megafauna they talked about some of the smaller ones. Notably, they mentioned that for a long time hardly had saw foxes in the park thanks to the coyotes. Since the reintroduction of the wolves, coyote pop. had decreased and they were starting to see some foxes. However, the ranger said that it was highly unusual to see them.

The next day, while hiking, I looked over and there was a beautiful fox sitting about 20 feet away. Needless to say, I was excited. I got some wonderful pictures of it. On that same walk, I came across a rocky section and noticed a pika. They are notoriously very hard to photograph. I usually only have seen them for brief seconds before they scurry away. This one stopped and looked at me for 30 seconds....I got a great pic.Pika

The next day was another long hike on a not often used trail. I came across 2 pronghorns. They stared at me and tensed up..but didn't run away. I then came across 2 different black bears...one on each side of the small mountain I was circling. That was a little tense---- had my spray at the ready--- but very cool.

When I was in Costa Rica on a long hike, I did get to see a variety of wild birds and several monkeys...which were quite cool.....but the most unusual was a sloth. Just hanging out in the tree. It was the only time I can ever remember seeing one period...certainly not ever in the wild and I can't remember ever seeing one at a zoo.

Steve Meier
(smeier) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Gators... on 03/20/2013 15:56:07 MDT Print View

I moved to Georgia from Ohio and was invited to canoe in the Okefenokee Swamp. I had my 7 yr old with me and my buddy had his 9 yr old with him. Long story short, the boys counted 72 gators crossing our path over the course of the day, all of them small but thrilling for his land-locked Midwestern. That was before digital cameras or I would post some pics...

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Best Wildlife Encounters on 03/20/2013 16:59:25 MDT Print View

I have gotten a few wildlife encounters over the years.

1779
Thousand Island Lake
5990
Darwin Lakes
006
Mt. Diablo
002
Mt. Diablo
004
Costa Rica
043
Costa Rica
692
Mt. Diablo

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
BG on 03/20/2013 20:13:51 MDT Print View

NM

Edited by Zia-Grill-Guy on 03/20/2013 20:15:08 MDT.

joseph peterson
(sparky) - F

Locale: Southern California
Best wildlife encounters? on 03/21/2013 21:42:45 MDT Print View

Hard to say best....I saw a mountain lion in the San Mateo wilderness, that was pretty awesome just because they are so rare to see, but it was brief. Next was a long encounter in SEKI with a momma bear and two cubs. I was nervous because of the cubs, but they at least pretended not to notice me, and mom didn't seemed concerned. They were cute and full of antics. Another couple memorable ones was a deer in yosemite that wanted to beat me up, and a fox that hung out in our campsite in Anza Borrego. Bald eagles are pretty memorable also because they are just so damn big! Wales too.

Richard Reno
(scubahhh) - M

Locale: White Mountains, mostly.
This might not count... on 03/22/2013 13:08:34 MDT Print View

... becuase i guess it wasn't technically whay you'd call backpacking (although I did have on a backpack, and there was nothing lightweight about it; but this is definitely my all-time #1 wildlife encounter... so far!

http://youtu.be/h83qz918OTs

Bogs and Bergs
(Islandized) - F

Locale: Newfoundland
Rick, Friend to Whale Sharks on 03/22/2013 14:59:21 MDT Print View

That was wonderful and thank you for posting it. I know they're docile creatures, did you get the feeling it knew you were trying to help? They're such beautiful animals. Well done, Rick! You really made my day with that one.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Best Wildlife Encounters on 03/22/2013 15:23:26 MDT Print View

King Snake in Kings Canyon National Park.
a
A wild backpacker (Kyle) and a bear in their natural habitats. Kings Canyon.
a
Rattlesnake, also in Kings Canyon.
a

Richard Reno
(scubahhh) - M

Locale: White Mountains, mostly.
Re: Rick, Friend to Whale Sharks on 03/23/2013 16:18:47 MDT Print View

Thanks for the kind words! That was on Chrisatms Day, 2000, when I lived on Utila Island, Honduras, at a dive resort where we were partners with the Shard Research Institute. Most of the time I was just trying to keep up with him, but there was a point after I gave up on trying to pull the net free and started cutting, that it became very passive and turned for the surface. So I hate to anthropomorphize, but yes.

David Erickson
(trailwolf)
Sasquatch on 03/24/2013 20:12:55 MDT Print View

While backpacking the Three Sisters Wilderness in early 80's I was awoken during the night by screams of which I can only imagine to have been sasquatch.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQMgXWh3tSs

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: This might not count... on 03/24/2013 21:28:07 MDT Print View

It counts as far as I'm concerned! Thanks for posting Rick, and good on ya!

A W
(lost_01)
my take on 03/24/2013 23:21:56 MDT Print View

Living in Australia, Huntsman spiders (which are bigger than US huntsman) would invade my house (which was something of a shack with lots of holes in it)whenever the weather changed. I eventually learned to live with them, as trying to kill them was far creepier. They move too fast and sort of 'stand up' on their back legs when threatened. Decimated my kitchen trying to kill one that was a foot wide.

James Cahill
(DMATB) - M

Locale: SOCAL
most surprising encounter on 04/15/2013 17:42:12 MDT Print View

I went out for a quick overnight last night (GoT would have to wait until today) and was lounging under my tarp after dinner around dusk. I rolled over and was quite surprised to find a large cat sniffing at my head. How i didn't hear it approach is beyond me. It didn't seem too strange at first, because I was in a small canyon preserve surrounded by houses, but then I realized that this cat was as large as a labrador, and had spots and a short stubby tail.

Despite my mildly profane exclamation, the bobcat continued sniffing at me and explored the rest of my site. I hadn't been expecting anything exciting so the camera had stayed at home, and by the time I got my fancy flip-phone out to take a picture he had sauntered off a bit, but continued to hang around for the next 10 minutes. My best cat-coaxing would not bring him back to me, and I suspect he was offended that I even tried. Even though I am not a cat person, I spent the rest of the night wishing he would come back and snuggle at my feet.

jungle cat

Jason Torres
(burytherails) - F

Locale: Texas
wildlife encounters on 04/15/2013 19:40:30 MDT Print View

A friend and I were out hiking Peekaboo canyon having a good time taking pics and really just enjoying the perfect weather. We went back and forth on how laid back it was and we put it on cruise control. About half-way through, the canyon walls close in. Suddenly, it got a little more real for my buddy as he is claustrophobic. He began to get uneasy to which I laughed and sprayed the usual banter that happens amongst best friends. During my laughing I stopped paying attention to the canyon floor and where I was stepping. I realized this and looked down to find a nice grey snake one foot away and exactly where I was going to place my next step!

I nearly peed myself as I am deathly afraid of snakes. I jumped back so fast I fell on the floor (the floor constricts to about six inches in that section), jumped up and stemmed the canyon walls up about ten feet! My buddy comes around and is like what are you doing? He laughed so hard once he figured out it was a snake (and not a big one at that). We both stemmed up the canyon walls and over the snake not knowing if it was venomous or not. Either way I wasn't going down for awhile lol.

here's apic of my buddy using his telescope in the canyon:

peekaboo

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Great Horned Owl "Attack" on 04/15/2013 22:42:30 MDT Print View

I was camping in the Grand Canyon, on the ground in the open. I had my jacket on (since this is BPL, after all, I will tell you it was a Golite Coal, LOL) and I had one arm outside of my bag. So I started out of a dead sleep about 2 am by a giant clawed thing that just suddenly went THUNK! down on that arm, and was holding onto it. I had time to move my other had up (only half awake, but convinced I had just become part of a monster movie) and actually felt one very strong, boney leg before it flew off. It tore two set of rips, one for each foot, in my coat. from the multiple holes in may jacket the length was about 7 inches apart between the legs and the front and back toes wrapped most of the way around my arm. I guess I was lucky, as I figured out later. It never drew blood, and seemed to have realized almost immediately that the arm outside of the bag was not what it thought/hoped it was, and took off. Anyway, I got a very good perspective on what it might be like to be prey that night. A ranger I talked to later said she thought it might have been a juvenile that was not too wise in the ways of the world yet. Anyway, I sewed up the rips with bright orange thread (I still have the jacket) and got a good story out of it. I like to think the Owl had its own stories to tell as well.

Its not in any way special except for situation, but I saw a coyote backpacking in a remote part of Henry Coe SP (big wilderness-y park in the bay area). The funny part, which is pretty rare, is that I saw him FIRST. He was obviously looking for rodents on the side of the trail, but was just trotting along merrily looking off to the side. I stood still and watched him approach for a while, not a care in the world, looking off distractedly. When he was about 20 feet away from me and heading straight toward me he suddenly looked up and did this huge double take. He didn't even run right away, he just did one of those kind of cartoon skids and got what can only be described as an embarrassed look on his face. He froze for a second with this expression, then did an abrupt 90 turn and flew at light speed off the trail into the forest and disappeared.

Edited by millonas on 04/15/2013 23:06:05 MDT.