Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Photographing Maine Moose In The Shadow Of Mount Katahdin—And Some Unexpected Risks

With Kayaks, Mountain bikes, Backpacks, Daypacks, Walking Sticks, Fishing Poles—and an Airstream Travel Trailer

Bert Gildart: As people get a little older, muscles don’t rebound from strenuous activity as quickly as they once did. The result is that if you then engage in other strenuous activity, you need to be careful, as I learned after climbing Katahdin, which certainly must be categorized as “strenuous.”

The day after our climb, I learned that moose frequent a small lake near Roaring Brook Campground known as Sandy Stream Pond. The pond is but a short distance from the parking lot and I was anxious—too anxious as it turned out, particularly for the conditions. Though the trail was level, it was partially covered with stream water, and logs had been placed as a corridor to facilitate passage. What’s more, my legs were stiff and a bit sore from the previous day’s climb.

It was the slippery log that should have sent up a red flag, particularly as I was loaded down with camera pack and tripod, for suddenly I slipped, landing on the side of my face, hitting my nose in such a way that in seconds I was bleeding profusely. Nevertheless, I proceeded along a side trail and on to the pond. The moose were there alright, and the setting was lovely, but by now, the bleeding was so horrendous that it was impossible to do anything other than find relief. By now, I was worried that I’d broken my nose.

Meanwhile, I had missed Janie, who had passed me by on her way to another of the pond’s access trails. So while I sat in the ranger station for close to two hours—assisted by two well-trained young men, Janie, thinking I was somewhere else on the pond, managed to return with some wonderful images of moose.

Moose are a big deal in Baxter State Park, and Janie later told me that one of the two young bulls appeared to have been fighting, for its eye appeared to be bruised. Fall, of course, is the mating season, and this young fellow was apparently anxious to prove his genetic worth in the highly combative and ritualistic manner characteristic of all antlered animals. Obviously, he hadn’t gotten too far, for here he was, sulking in Sandy Stream Pond, waiting for Janie to photography him.

Apparently, Sandy Stream Pond has all the characteristics required by moose. The lake is shallow and has an abundance of vegetation that moose can harvest in their own unique way. Janie said she watched our young bull as he dipped his head into the water where he would forage for up to a minute or more, elevating his head when he ran out of breath, but with mouth-fulls of aquatic matter. He’d then munch the green material, converting the photosynthetic energy into moose meat—and moose energy.

Janie saw much of this drama and it was only when the sun began to touch the surrounding beauty of Mount Katahdin that Janie decided to return to the truck. She said she’d also began worrying about me, but had assumed I was behind some tree photographing one of the other moose on the lake. But as she walked back, she said she saw blood on the trail, then blood on the ranger porch, and then, she said that she was really starting to worry.

But the story has a happy ending, for two days later, though the side of my face is black and blue, and although my nose is slightly swollen and my eye is also black and blue, nothing is broken, and I’m on the mend—admiring Janie’s photos and anxious this morning to return to Sandy Stream Pond and hopefully find more moose, for the ranger told us that Sandy Stream Pond provides photographers with one of the most unique settings in America, and while here, we want to see all we can. Perhaps we’ll find a huge bull. Perhaps we’ll find two huge bulls. And maybe they’ll start battling.

This time, however, I’ll proceed slowly, and not worry that we won’t have images to tell our story about the moose that live in the shadow of Katahdin, for we already have Janie’s wonderful photographs.

2 Responses to “Photographing Maine Moose In The Shadow Of Mount Katahdin—And Some Unexpected Risks”

  1. MIKE PAUL Says:

    I enjoyed reading your story, and was suprised to see my name there, too. Hope Janey is recovering, and hope you two don’t have any more spills on your trip! Nice pictures of moose. I stopped in the ranger station after leaving you to ask about the peotry readings, and got the name of the ranger’s book. The man that was there had a copy, and I read one of the pieces in it and decided to try to go out and buy the book, the work was so lovely. Your telling me about that has repaid me for the simple favor I rendered. I am looking forward to reading “At the Grave of the Unknown River Driver.”

  2. Jim Borden Says:

    Enjoyed your story of climbing Mt Katahdin and this story about Sandy Stream Pond. The bull with the injured eye became a real big guy-I photographed him in the the fall of 2012.