So near yet so far. We had reluctantly left Rapid Inn behind us to catch our breakfast on the river which we quickly did and fried up it was a delicious trout for some reason we weren’t able to catch any fish in the pool under the waterfall at Rapid Inn, perhaps too much current but we still carved our names into the outside log wall adding our names to that history. We had consulted Bob’s map after breakfast and found that we had just to paddle for about ten miles or so on the narrow overflow river from the rapids of the waterfall until reaching the lake we had to cross to end our adventure. Both Bob and I thought our adventures were at an end as we surveyed the high clay banks of the narrow river there was certainly no scenery here and we became quite bored. There was no vegetation as the clay banks of the river were nearly perpendicular to the river and it was far and away the most boring paddling of the whole trip, but hold your breath. We were about to experience a very real possibility of loosing life and limb mainly for yours truly. The river being narrow was also meandering and sometimes you couldn’t see what was directly ahead due to the winding of the river and sharp corners of the bank so we had no warning until we were practically on top of a moose!

moose in lake

We had rounded the corner and surprised him while he was munching on lake weed he was submerged but when he heard us coming he pulled his gigantic head out of the water, he had a tremendous rack of antlers and water poured off of them as he looked straight at us. We were on a direct collision course with the biggest bull moose I had ever seen both of us started back paddling but the current of the river was driving us closer to him and since the banks of the river were so steep we were sure there was nowhere for him to go but straight through us. The moose calmly looked at us and continued chewing some weeds from the bottom of the river as I struggled to hold onto my paddle and reach for my luger at the same time, it seemed to be somehow tangled in my belt or shirt I was too terrified to wrestle it loose quickly enough. I was thinking that this might be the end of me as I was the one in the front of the canoe, Bob would have a chance to escape as the moose would be busy trampling and drowning me. We were a bare few inches away when, to our great surprise the moose gracefully stepped onto the sheer bank it was at least twenty feet to the top of the bank and clay is notoriously hard and slippery to climb I guess that is for someone who doesn’t have hooves. He nimbly dug in his hooves and that life threatening moose got himself out of our way. He didn’t seem bothered at all by us as if we were merely ants to him and he had grown tiered of us and gone off to greener pastures. He climbed straight up and out of the steep clay river bank disappearing from sight.

Elk Climbing Steep Slope, Gibbon River, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Once the moose had climbed up curiosity got the better of Bob and he paddled back to the indentations the moose had made climbing the bank. He then got out and climbed the bank using the indentations as foot holds. I lashed the canoe to a log and followed him up. I found it quite easy to climb the bank thanks to the foot and handholds left by the moose’s hooves. Once over the top of the clay bank we emerged onto a plateau of flat land covered in low lying brush, one could see for miles in every direction but we couldn’t spot that great big moose anywhere. It seemed like some sort of magic trick either it had run off very far indeed or perhaps there was a dip in the land we couldn’t see there certainly weren’t any trees for it to hide behind. All I can say is that moose are mysterious creatures. All in all that was one of the biggest frights of my life right up there with that giant cave of bats Bob and I had found on this trip although this incident was certainly a brush with death. We climbed back into the canoe we talked about how with our trip almost at an end we came within a few inches of certain death. I couldn’t have known then that I would indeed live long enough to be a ninety year old man, it was a close one and we laughed over the excitement of it all. I can tell you that we paddled on much slower around those river bends and I made sure my luger was very handy.

canoing steep bank river

We consulted Bob’s map once more and saw we were indeed very close to our destination we simply had one last portage to go and then a final lake to cross it was a big one and if there was a high wind when we reached it we may have to use our homemade outrigger but that’s a story for another day.

Stay tuned for the conclusion of Rapid Inn will we make it back in one piece? Are there more adventures awaiting us? You’ll have to come back and see!

-Dacker Thicke

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