Signal Ridge Road, Signal Ridge Trail.
14 miles roundtrip, 3250+ elevation gain.
I'll start at the beginning.
Sage and I had our boots on the access road by 7:30am.
We saw the power of Mother Nature about a mile from the parking lot...
We continued along the road...
...and reached the trailhead.
We entered the woods...
...found some more evidence of Irene's fury...
...and enjoyed our walk through the autumnal trees.
We reached the intersection...
...and continued along the trail...
...until I looked up and saw two moose standing to my right. I got Sage's attention as quietly as I could. She looked up just in time to see the pair amble into the woods; by the time I raised my camera, they were gone.
Sage and I were thrilled; we'd never seen a moose while hiking. As we continued along the trail, we discussed their beauty, their massive size, and their silence (they never made a sound, even when walking on fallen leaves).
We reached the ridge and were treated to spectacular views...
...we ambled toward the summit tower...
...and tagged Sage's 4K #45.
Views from the tower...
We descended the stairs, ate, and touched the tallest rock we could see...
...and then we headed back down the trail.
Sage was in fine form as we descended the mountain. She invented a few recipes, talked about Star Wars, and played with various fallen branches. Most of the time, she walked twenty feet ahead of me, so I wasn't immediately next to her when she suddenly stopped, turned to the left, and exclaimed, "Mama!"
I turned in time to see two moose stride nervously into the woods. "Don't move!" I loudly whispered to Sage, hoping I could snap a picture before the pair disappeared. (That brown blurry thing in the middle of the following photo is a moose -- promise!)
After tucking my camera into its case, I turned toward Sage, who, I suddenly realized, was staring wide-eyed at something close-by. A tree blocked my field of vision; I couldn't see the object of her fascination. I began walking toward her...and a third moose hurried off to join the waiting duo. That third moose had stood and stared at Sage while the other two quickly departed. I hadn't realized it was there, I had just futzed with my camera and stared off into the woods while the giant creature stayed and gazed at my daughter.
Sage turned to me as the bull's hindquarters disappeared behind some distant branches. I asked if she had made eye contact with the moose and she said yes. She told me it had stared at her and cocked its head, as though he were interested in her. She said it was "cool, but a bit scary after a while." I explained that he probably hadn't seen a human her size before, and that he might have been trying to figure out what kind of creature she was. Sage found that funny, and she giggled frequently as we continued onward.
Not long afterward, we made it back to the trailhead.
A couple of miles later, we were at the car.
I'm glad Sage had a moose encounter. I'm even more glad the moose found her interesting but not threatening (it's rutting season and the males are unpredictable).
All in all, 'twas a good walk in the woods.
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