I wondered why a horse would be on the loose so far up-mountain.
When I came down the steep, snowy slope a few minutes later, leaning on my walking stick, I could see why she had started to run.
In a spot like that, when you have strong legs and plenty of traction, it’s only natural to take advantage of gravity and momentum.
It was a beautiful winter day, but I hadn’t set out on my workout hike with a sense of joy or anticipation. You know how they say to seize the day? Sometimes it’s the day that seizes you.
For me this far, it had been all uphill. I had been keeping a close watch on the time, and my knees were complaining. A half hour up, I told myself, and then back down.
At the point when I’d clocked the half hour, I could see the road curve ahead and dwindle to a trail. I couldn’t resist. In hopes of a splendid view, I went on.
Then suddenly, the sound of galloping. Briefly I wondered why a horse would be on the loose, way up here on the mountain. But of course this was no horse.
There she was, huge and beautiful. She skidded to a halt, and I stopped too. We looked at each other, motionless.
I have never had the privilege of looking a moose in the eyes before. I do not try to get close to moose. They are powerful and unpredictable, I know. But we were staring.
Her gaze was like my dog’s–gentle, brown, and intent. I sank down on the steep slope beside the trail, hoping to look as much as possible like a boulder (an eggplant-colored Thermasilk-lined boulder with a fur-edged hood, wearing a houndstooth visor cap).
I risked snapping a picture. She watched quietly.
After several heart-pounding moments (my heart, I mean), she moved slowly toward me on the trail, then stopped and stared again. She turned hugely around and paced back uphill a ways. Then she reversed course and came slowly toward me.
What would she do? Was she going to sniff me? Or kick me?
Perhaps five feet away, she turned again and ambled down the slope into the woods.
I watched her descend and disappear into the trees before I rose from my crouch and regained the path. She didn’t turn to look back at me.
I stopped to take a picture of her huge hoofprints at full gallop in the snow.
Then I continued on up into the woods whence she had come, returning later down that same steep slope that had set her off on her joyous run.
© Lois Wingerson, 2017
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