So, last night was scary in a hurry your butt, exciting way. We’ve only been on the mountain for two weeks but regardless, these things can happen any time. It was just a matter of time before we had our first head-on encounter with wildlife.
On most nights we do hear coyotes or even wolfs. Sometimes they sound kinda close, somewhere on the mountain and at other times they sound distant. Sound travels clearly over the mountain, though, so it is sometimes hard to tell. The air is super clean here and it is in the 40s or 50s at night, which intensifies the sound, too. We have seen turkeys, deer, grouse, and two wandering Western Terrestrial Garter Snakes. Oh! And the bunnies… endless quantities of bunnies! I think they are actually hares, though.
Okay, okay, I’ll get to it. So as the sun was setting, the Norris Family retreated to their travel trailer to settle in for the night. Erick and I sat around the bonfire until it was pretty dark outside. I was delaying bedtime, though it was about 10pm. The current location of the bonfire pit is in what will soon be a garden. It’s a good, flat spot for our tent, travel trailer, and coolers. We have had quite the set up there.
Suddenly, I heard this slow moving crunching sound just beyond the garden. I looked at Erick as he turned his head toward the noise. We looked at each other with a strange look, confused if we were really hearing what we thought we were hearing but then it started up again and we both jumped up, admitting that there was something just beyond us. Something big but we could not see it. I grabbed Bailee and pulled her into the tent and handed Erick a gun. He walked around, making a hissing sort of noise, trying to scare whatever it was away but it continued to crunch through the grass and fallen trees toward us. We still could not see it. We had no idea if it was a bear, a wolf, or a moose but we felt sure it was probably one of these animals. Erick sent a shot and it continued to crunch toward us. About 20 seconds later, he shot again and it STILL continued to crunch toward us.
At this point, Ken stuck his head out of the travel trailer and asked if we were okay to which we replied, “NO! Bring your gun. Something is out here.” It was at this point that Erick saw its eyes in the dark. Whatever it was, it’s eyes were at about a human’s height. This ruled out the idea of a wolf.
Ken ran down the driveway in our direction and stood in the dark with Erick, staring into the dark, waiting to see something but none of us could see anything. We could just hear the crunching and eventually we did not hear the crunching. Ken and Erick agreed that we should not sleep in our tent after this event. I covered Molly with a blanket and jumped in my car, which was close to the tent. I drove her to the travel trailer and situated her in the bathroom. I went back down to the garden to get Bailee and load some basics for the night but by this time, Erick had run one of our cots to the tiny house. He loaded some things into my car and made the decision that we were moving into the tiny house. The supplies to build out the inside of the tiny house are arriving today so we just moved a few things in since it will be another construction site on the property starting today.
Two weeks in the tent was a good amount of time. It was a great two-room tent. We were pretty comfortable in it except for mid-day when it’s at its hottest here in Northern Idaho but that has nothing to do with the tent itself. It was actually an exciting moment to move into the tiny house last night – we’ve been waiting for this, though we had intended to do so after electrical, insulation, floors, and a deck to help get inside it. But oh well! I’m sure plans will change many times over the years on this homestead. We’ve already learned that you have to be adaptable in this lifestyle.
This morning, my eyes opened at about 4:45. From my cot, I could see the sunrise better than we ever could from the garden. I’ve been naturally waking up pretty early since arriving in Idaho. I have never been a morning person and I don’t know if I am still because I do love to sleep in but I have to admit, I love seeing the sky look the way it does at that time of the morning.
As I do every morning during the week, I jumped into my car at 5:40 and started driving down the mountain to head to town to work for the day. I curiously looked in all directions as I drove down the gravel road, up and over a small slope, turning the corner at the end of our road, and then making my way down the long slope that leads to the bottom of the mountain. And about half way down the mountain, there it was. The “cruncher.” It was a moose after all! It was a bull and he was not as big as I imagined he should be. Typically, their shoulder height ranges from 5’ to 7’. He seemed a little young as he was on the shorter side of that scale. I watched him with wonder as he slowly moved at his own pace, climbing up a slope, away from me. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. And then he was gone. I wish I could have stopped time to look at him longer. But I’m sure I’ll be seeing him again. Until then, crunch on, Moose, crunch on.