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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

A Moose Adventure at Caribou Ranch

August 20th, 2015 · No Comments

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No caribou live within a thousand miles of Boulder County’s Caribou Ranch Open Space. ​It’s named for the nearby ghost town of Caribou, which in turn took its name from the Caribou silver mine that Sam Conger discovered near there in 1869. He thought that the animal he shot there was a caribou, but it was probably an elk.

​Until the last few years there haven’t been any moose living at Caribou Ranch either. ​Before 1978 only a few stray moose wandered into northern Colorado from Wyoming, but then Colorado wildlife managers began introducing them from Wyoming and Utah into North Park about 50 miles away on the other side of the Rocky Mountains.

Since then, more than 50 moose have crossed the Continental Divide, and Sharon and I got a glimpse of a mama moose and her baby at Caribou Ranch last year. This time we got really close to a juvenile moose, which I like to think was the baby we saw earlier.

​This moose was alone and eating its breakfast in peace only a dozen yards or so in front of me when I spotted it as it lifted its head to look at us.

The Young Moose S​ees Us

The Young Moose S ees Us

Click on the picture above to enlarge

None of us had any fear, and the moose slowly ambled off into the willow carr. My camera was ready and I whipped it out. The first shot I got was this one and I was happy.

But a photographer can always do better, and Sharon and I both decided to follow it. The footing turned out to be swampy and the grass was high and wet with dew as it was only a few minutes after 7 a.m. We took separate routes through the muck and quickly got separated. I got glimpses of the moose three or four times as I followed it for the next half hour. By then the moose was approaching the lake south of the DeLonde homestead and Sharon was nowhere in sight or within shouting range.

​I walked back to the section of the trail where we had first seen the moose, but both Sharon and the moose were long gone. I figured that she had continued around the loop past South Boulder Creek and the old mine complex so I quickly went that way and came back around to the trail that looks down on the DeLonde homestead.

At the barn I saw a figure in the distance, perhaps half a mile away. I hoped it was Sharon and quickly went there. It turned out to be two people, Theresa Haberkorn, the​ Boulder County Artist-in-Residence, and her husband Paul, who were enjoying their morning coffee at their residence in the barn. It was 9 a.m. when Paul spotted Sharon back where I had just been.

The DeLonde Barn from Where I Met Sharon

The DeLonde Barn from Where I Met Sharon

Click on the picture above to enlarge

Theresa and Paul were still enjoying the sun in front of the barn when I got back to Sharon. We had been separated briefly on other hikes, but this time we were looking for each other for more than an hour and one-half. Each of us had some concern that the other had fallen in the bog.

We were happy that the adventure turned out so well, and neither of us had any anger. No one was to blame, or perhaps each of us was equally at fault because neither of us carry our cell phones, which will work in some of the places where we hike. And we hadn’t established a SOP.

We have one now. From now on we will carry our cell phones with us and we will return to the section of the trail where we separate. We don’t need any more adventures with moose.


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