Okay, here’s some context. Half of my lifetime ago (13 years to be exact), I went on a long road trip with my parents which included time in Yellowstone and a quick drive through Grand Teton National Park. It was my goal on that trip to see a bull moose, AKA a man moose with a big rack.
We saw a lot of cool things, but the closest I got to seeing a man moose was seeing a girl moose – she just looked like an overgrown horse.
Since then, I’ve always wanted to see one and thought my best shot would be when I went to Banff and Jasper National Parks in Canada last year. In case you don’t know, videos online that show moose walking down main roads are usually recorded in Canada.
Even my time in Canada didn’t produce a man moose.
This year, Matt and I went camping in Yellowstone, 13 years later (to the week). I specifically told Matt that if he didn’t help me plan (or really if he didn’t intervene), the whole trip would be one big moose hunt. He did help a bit, but it’s fair to say that much of what we did (or had on the list to potentially do) was directly related to me finding a moose.
Since the odds are much higher in Grand Teton, we rolled out of our tent early in the morning and made the 2 hour drive to Jenny Lake. I went straight to the ranger station and asked for info on the best place to see a bull moose. The ranger circled multiple points on a map, with the most likely one being preceded by a … “if you’re up for a hike…”
We took the boat across Jenny Lake and started the trek. The first mile was pretty much straight up hill and very exhausting. We had just come to the flat-ish part when we noticed that there were a lot of people stopped. There was a little brown bear batting a tree directly on the trail!
Matt grabbed the bear spray and we waited for a mama bear to show up and for the little guy to get off the trail. She never showed, so we hustled through that section of the trail. (As an aside, there are no pictures of this event. Every bear I have ever seen was at a much safer distance and I was very nervous. Matt was busy holding the bear spray.)
We planned to turn around when we got to the fork at 4.5 miles. Right around 4.3 miles, someone coming down the trail stopped us and said there was a bull moose 2-3 minutes up the right fork of the trail.
I started jogging uphill which lasted for about 18 seconds. Then I walked very fast and we went about .5 miles into the fork and there was no moose to be seen. Of course, everyone coming down the trail was talking about how they had seen all kinds of moose on their way up that morning – bulls, mamas, babies, everything!
I was sorely disappointed and also very grumpy and defeated. We went back to the fork and took a break before heading back down the trail. About 2.5-3 miles back down the trail, another group told us there were two bull moose in the water.
YESSSSS! I was immediately more upbeat and starting fast-walking.
In the water.
I did some silent screaming and some excited dancing/flailing on the trail and then we watched them for 45+ minutes. It was perfect!
The end of the hike was back to the lake and then a bit more around the lake to get to the parking lot. We hiked 12.5 miles in all!
We went by the same bear on the way down (turns out it was a juvenile black bear with no mom) and saw another black bear a couple miles around the lake. I was very tired and very hot and very thirsty and very hungry when we got back, but hey, I saw a man moose!