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"Visitors to Alaska are more likely to see moose than any other big game.  
Hundreds of them are to be found within the Anchorage city limits . . . Cow moose  
are often accompanied by one or two calves and it is extremely dangerous to get
between them. Moose usually ignore people who keep a respectful distance but 
they could charge, and an attack could cause serious injury or death."

It is so ironic that we've seen more moose in Anchorage this summer than during our eleven days at Denali National Park. I saw a grand total of one moose at Denali and Jim didn't get to see her.

It's estimated that 1,600 moose winter in the city because there is more food to forage there than in the nearby mountains. Although there are fewer moose wandering the city greenways, parks, neihgborhoods, and JBER in the summer, we've been privileged to see a bunch of them in our three visits here.

Young bull moose Jim saw next to the Coastal Trail today

This was a great day for moose sightings and Jim had the pleasure of seeing even more than I did.

Later in this entry I'll show photos of the moose Jim saw on his bike ride and our resident mama moose and twins that visited our campsite tonight. I'll also throw in photos of another visit later in the week by the campground moose.


Today’s weather was perfect and we both took advantage of it.

It was mostly sunny all day, especially in the afternoon and evening, with temperatures in the mid-60s. There was only a slight wind and just a few dramatic clouds moving in and out on the Chugach Mountain ridges where I was hiking several hours with Cody:

More about that in the next entry.

While I was wandering in the mountains Jim had a memorable 42-mile bike ride from the campground to Kincaid Park and back. He wanted a really long ride today while the weather is good. He’s building up his distances so he can ride the 109-mile long Michelson Trail when we’re in Rapid City this fall.

He rode Arctic Valley out the west side of JBER and made his way down to the Coastal Trail through town like he did once previously when we were here.

Here are most of the pictures he took along the way:

 F-4 in the static display on base; these were flown exclusively in Viet Nam. Jim worked on the 
planes' electronic counter measures (ECM) for a decade in the Air National Guard.

Above and below: different angles on the pedestrian bridge across Ship Creek near downtown


View over Ship Creek to commercial dock (R in distance); note the colorful stacked shipping containers.

Looking down at the Ulu Factory from one of the vehicle bridges across Ship Creek

After crossing the creek Jim rode on city streets a few blocks to reach the north end of the paved Coastal Trail, which he followed for eleven miles to Kincaid Park.

He took these photos of faraway mountains on the west and north sides of Cook Inlet:

Point Woronzof (L, about five miles away) and volcanic mountains (R)
covered with clouds and snow in far distance

Above and below:  looking north across the Inlet toward the Alaska Range in far distance.
You'd think on a pretty day like today you could see Denali, but it's hiding under those clouds.


View NE to downtown Anchorage and the Chugach Mountains; I was up on one of those ridges.


One of the highlights of Jim's ride was seeing two moose along the Coastal Trail. We also saw several different ones in various places on our bike rides along this trail in June and July.

The first was a cow (female) browsing about 15 feet away:

She was busy eating and didn't even look at Jim.

The second was the young male moose shown in the photo at the beginning of this entry. He was just a few feet off the bike path and posed nicely when Jim stopped to take his picture.

Here's a close-up of him:

Note the small antler that is broken.


Another highlight was seeing several beluga whales in shallow water near Woronzof Point.

Some folks were standing at the high point on the bike path looking down into the water so Jim went over to investigate. He took this photo of the Sleeping Lady across the inlet:

Down below the cliff he could see these two beluga whales:

The next picture is the best I can do for a close-up because Jim had only a 12-megapixel camera and he didn't zoom the lens for any shots of the whales -- they weren't visible long enough above the water for him to do that very easily:

This is what the water looked like when each whale went back under for a little while:

Beluga whales can be seen in Cook Inlet and Turnagain Arm in late July-August when the salmon return  to spawn.

If we have another nice weather day before we leave Anchorage I want to drive down to Potter’s Marsh and Beluga Point and maybe I can see some beluga whales, too. We saw several whales on our day cruise out of Seward in early July but they weren't belugas. 

Almost twenty belugas got stranded at low tide in Turnagain Arm but rescued themselves when the tide came in again. That made today’s local news. The species is endangered so losing that many would not have been good. Their population in the Anchorage area is decreasing locally for various reasons.

Jim also took this photo of a plane from The Point.

Passenger and commercial jets land on the runways of the metro airport very close to the Coastal Trail. It's interesting to stand there for a while and watch them fly in and out.


After supper I was at my computer and Jim was watching TV when I looked out the window above my desk and spotted our mama moose and two now-large calves in our “front yard:

Twin calves

Mom and one calf

We watched for about 15 minutes as they methodically stripped whole branches of leaves. It was fascinating to watch and it's been interesting to see how the calves have grown since we first saw them in June (pretty sure it's the same family).

Mama stayed out about 30 feet -- close to the old railroad bed -- as both curious calves came closer to our camper:


(S)he could hear our voices and knew we were watching.

One calf came within about ten feet of the door to the camper (above), then browsed even closer near the bay windows in the back:

Cody did some growling and barking inside the camper when the calves came so close. He's a territorial and/or protective dog when we're camping or at the house but he got quiet when we told him to.

The barking didn't bother the moose. All three finally turned around and walked across the old RR tracks into the woods on the other side when the campground hosts drove by in their golf cart. Our presence didn't frighten them but apparently the golf cart did.


We saw the trio again a few evenings later.

Jim was at the laundry room when Cody started growling and barking again. I figured a dog was walking by with its owner but when I looked out the window toward the outside edge of our campsite (the clearing with the old RR tracks) I saw The Twins – the two moose calves – ascertaining if they were safe, then munching on leaves about 30 feet away:


They were wary of the barking but let me come outside to take their picture (I know, I know . . .) before wandering slowly off toward their mom in the clearing.

Later when Jim was back he suddenly caught some movement out the bay windows -- the mom and two calves were just a few feet away from where he was sitting on the sofa. Most of my photos didn’t come out very well that time from inside the camper because of solar reflections on the glass:

The trio continued through the woods, across the campground road, and between the campers behind us, where they stripped more branches of leaves:


It was very cool to have the moose so close three times and to watch them eat. It wouldn’t have been so cool if it was our landscape trees they were eating, however. (Same principle as dandelions -- they add vibrant color to a mountain trail but I don't want them growing in my yard.)

I wish I could pet a docile-looking moose like a horse but that wouldn’t be safe, even with these "city moose" that are so habituated to people. Moose are unpredictable and can be dangerous.

One of the calves we saw today

Although I've read that they aren't fond of dogs, I've never had trouble with any of my Labs on trails when we've encountered a moose while running or hiking. Cody has never growled or barked at one on a trail. He knew they were outside the camper the three times mentioned above but didn't growl until he thought they were invading our space when they were just six to eight feet from the camper.

I’m glad Cody was inside when the moose family visited or we wouldn't have seen them. Two of the times he was outside just a few minutes before they came into our campsite.

Next entryanother interesting hike in the Rendezvous Peak-Mt. Gordon Lyon area -- no moose in the tundra but lots of great scenery

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, and Cody the ultra Lab

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© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil