The Fuzzy Black Animal on the Trail

So there I was…

Hiking on the Medicine Bow Rail Trail from the Woods Creek Trailhead.

Woods Creek Trailhead

William was sauntering down the trail right in front of me. Finn was riding along in the Chariot. It was a chilly morning on an easy trail so I was sipping on a mug of Earl Grey with two lemon slices. That’s how I roll.


About 1/2 mile from the trailhead we saw what I thought were either moose or elk tracks on the side of the trail. In my mind there was clearly a set of adult tracks alongside a set of smaller tracks.

It made sense, we were in a nice forest with a pond off to one side of the trail. It was prime moose habitat.


I had visions of seeing a moose (from a safe distance of course) and could imagine the wild smiles that would show up on the faces of my boys when they saw a moose.

Even better I thought we might get to see a Mama moose and her babies and that we’d stand still watching each other sharing a Mama bonding moment.

I’d be like “so, you bring your babies here too” and the moose would look at me as if to say “yah, and by the way you’re a badass for hiking solo with two kids even if you are cheating and pushing one in a stroller.”

My fantasy of seeing a cow moose with her calves came to an end when my kids started whining.

So, I threw a few granola bars at them and we kept on hiking.

About another mile down the trail something caught my eye.

Just ahead of us was a huge black animal.

Maybe I was going to get to see my moose after all, I thought as I grabbed my bear spray, tossed William into the Chariot alongside Finn and proceeded cautiously down the trail.


(This is a single Chariot it’s designed to carry one child, not two. It is also recommended that children be seated and safely buckled in when riding in a Chariot). When it comes to child transportation on hikes we break all the rules.

But as I kept hiking something wasn’t right. This animal was defiantly not a moose. It was too short, it was too bulky, it was just standing there not scampering off into the woods.

“Is it a bear?” I said, as we cautiously inched closer.

“Mom, you’re so silly, that’s a cow!” William giggled from the stroller.

Then I looked up and realized that the fuzzy black animal was indeed a cow and that I was hiking through a minefield of cow pies.


I’d been so wrapped up hoping to see wildlife that I hadn’t really been paying any attention to the trail.

“Mooooooove over cow, coming through,” we called as we passed a dozen or so cows just hanging out on the side of the trail glaring at us.

Cows followed us for the whole hike, balking at us as if they were angry we were trespassing through their territory.

So, we kept talking about how much we wanted a bacon cheeseburger to show them who was at the top of the food chain.


About an hour later on the way back to the car I stopped to examine what I had thought were moose or elk tracks in the trail. That’s when I realized that those mysterious tracks actually came from cows.


So if you want to see real, wild cows head to the Woods Creek Trailhead.

And if you want to know what animal tracks you’re looking at or if you’re staring at a bear or a cow please consult a guidebook, not me.

I also promise that I’m not complete idiot. Just keepin’ it real around here.  We like to do that.

Have you ever had any “mysterious” wildlife encounters on the trail?

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