Moose, Mosquitoes and Bear Grass: Three Days in the Pintlers

Whoa…what’s that?”

Margaret stops dead, pointing into the trees.    I don’t stop in time and smack into her backpack.  I look where she’s pointing in the woods off to the right of us but don’t see anything.

“What?  I don’t…”     I’m scanning the hillside above us.

“Right there.  A moose!”

I’d been looking way too far.  A bull moose is looking back at us, not even 50 feet away.


Wow.  And yikes.  Anyone who spends any time in the woods knows that moose can be scary: a crabby moose is not to be messed with.     But this guy was mellow.  He looked us over, took a few steps, checked us out again, and then calmly went on his way.




We were almost to our destination:  Johnson Lake in the Pintler Wilderness.  From the trailhead it had been a five mile steady climb, with increasingly incredible stands of bear grass.  Bear grass is pretty much a northwest  alpine phenomenon; you can find it somewhere every year, but every 5 years or so the blooms can be especially spectacular, and this has been one of those years.    It looks like a sea of fluffy Q-tips.




Even our campsite was in the middle of the bear grass:


As we sat waiting for the sunset that evening, our friendly moose appeared on the opposite side of the lake.  He browsed around the lake, heading toward a couple who were fishing.   They didn’t see him right away, but when they did, I was pretty surprised that they didn’t back off.  The moose and hikers checked each other out,



and the moose decided that his best option was to swim around these blokes who were insisting on standing their ground.  Lucky for them he was one mild-mannered moose!

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He parked himself in the lake, probably only 25 feet from these folks, and spent the next hour feeding and entertaining us all.  What a story those guys had to tell their friends that night!

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As for me, I was happy to watch from my safe distance.  When the couple left the moose stayed a bit longer, but then something spooked him and he hightailed it into the woods.  He could move when he wanted too, that’s for sure!

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About westerner54

Hello. I'm Cindy, and I love to hike, bike and explore the outdoors - particularly the western U.S.
This entry was posted in Adventure, Backpacking, Hiking, Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Wildlife and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Moose, Mosquitoes and Bear Grass: Three Days in the Pintlers

  1. Shea Oliver says:

    Wow! Great pictures!!! That’s awesome. I spent an hour and a half with a moose a couple of weeks ago in Rocky Mountain National Park. They really are interesting creatures, but it is best to stay on their good side.

  2. What crazy, misshapen-looking animals they are. That head!

  3. Janet says:

    Love that bear grass!

  4. What a stunning set of images….it looks like an incredibly beautiful place. Love the bear grass, it makes gorgeous images…..and what a treat watching the playful moose!

  5. Wow! and Wow!!! What a fantastic story! Ya’ll are so lucky!!!

  6. Great shots of the moose and those crazy people. I don’t believe I would have just stood there!

  7. Mandy says:

    What a great hike – wish I was with you.

  8. Jet Eliot says:

    Oh did I ever enjoy this hike! The bear grass is spectacular and the moose story is incredible! I think you were savvy to keep a safe distance, that couple on the water’s edge didn’t seem too smart, but they were lucky. Thank you for the fantastic photos and a great story! 🙂

  9. Nancy says:

    How lucky you were to be so close to a MOOSE!! but those others were not smart! Beautiful photos. I saw a Moose once but from afar… really far. HA HA HA

  10. What an outstanding series of moose images. You seem to have a healthy respect for moose and I have to wonder about those other hikers.

    Thanks for this journey into the wild. Once again, you are showing me places and things I have never seen.

  11. What a spectacular show all day long! Moose antics (and none of the scary kind), and the most showy display of beargrass I’ve seen in eons! Bonus points, for sure. 😀

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