Nobody spends more time on the Central Gunflint Trail System than our son Quinn. Between his constant obsessive grooming trips with the pisten bully or G2 and his daily long ski excursions, he often spends 6 – 8 hours a day on the trails.
After all that time out in the woods you’d think he would have some good animal sighting stories to retell. But no, most of his interesting animal observations have been made out by our dumpster, not up on the ski trails. He makes so much noise in the pisten bully or on the grooming snowmobile that all he ever sees are the tracks of animals that used to be on the trail.
Still, Quinn is ever hopeful that someday he’ll come around the corner and there before him will be the astonishing animal scene. He frequently sticks a camera in his pocket just in case, but all he ever comes back with are photos of snow, the pisten bully or trail scenes. The only animal he’s photographed all winter was in a cage next to the garbage can, an errant pine marten whose inappropriate trash feeding habits meant he had the misfortune of being relocated to a dumpster-free environment. That wasn’t the extraordinary animal picture Quinn envisioned.
One day last week he went out for his typical late afternoon ski trip around the big loop. As usual he tucked a camera in his vest, expecting to perhaps take a few photos of the straight tracks or nice corduroy he’d set previously. He was skiing on Ridge Run when he turned a corner and came upon everyone’s dream-come-true animal scene – a big moose standing on the trail in front of him.
It was the ultimate photographic shot. The moose was positioned perfectly. All Quinn had to do was reach into his pocket, pull the camera out, turn it on so the zoom lens would quietly extend, focus and then push the button and listen … for the sound of the camera shutting down. No! Not just a few feet away from a moose posing for a photo. He tried again. Same thing. The batteries must have gone dead.
Never one to give up easily, Quinn quickly fumbled with the battery compartment in hopes of trying an old McCloughan family trick—warming up the batteries in his hand. Most of our meaningful McCloughan family photos have been taken with dead batteries heated up just enough to fire off one crucial picture. It was worth a try.
He was standing a short distance away from the moose, desperately attempting to exude body heat into the batteries, when the moose lifted its head and took a step towards him. It was at that moment when Quinn decided that perhaps what he was doing was really, really dumb.
He dropped the batteries and camera back into his pocket and sped away, looking over his shoulder just enough to make certain he wasn’t being pursued by a mad moose. He met up with Bob skiing closer to Bearskin and hoped maybe with a new set of batteries one of them could still get a great moose picture. Alas, it was not to be. Bob returned to the same spot, but there was no sign of a moose anymore. The photo opportunity was lost.
I brought Quinn a big package of fresh new batteries for the camera today. Next time he goes out to ski he’ll be ready for that moose moment. Which almost guarantees that it will never happen again.