We do a lot of driving in the Pacific Northwest, and luckily have had no close encounters with the abundant wildlife that roams the valleys and mountains. We did once have a black bear run across the road in front of us, but I’d seen it coming so it was no danger. Especially as we were in a car!
Last weekend we drove from home, through Idaho and British Columbia, to Banff, where ICCBSS 2007 was being held. As the road wanders through the Selkirk mountains in northern Idaho, it starts to get very remote and rural. Which means animals are lurking.
The first encounter was with a suicidal squirrel, which ran across the road in front of us. Moderately hard braking saved the little thing from becoming flattened. A few minutes later, as we approached the Canadian border, we rounded a bend at 70mph only to see a deer stood in the road. Very hard braking and some quick footwork from the deer saw it slip past the driver’s door unharmed. This certainly made me slow down a little.
Once in to Canada, the road gets quite windy and driving slower anyway. As we climbed a hill, a large Rocky Mountain sheep was spotted, fortunately on the other side of the road. I slowed down and crawled carefully past this particular beast – it was certainly of a size I didn’t want to collide with. But this was nothing compared to what we saw as we sped around a corner at high speed further north in the Columbia Valley near Invermere.
Elk can be big animals, and the one stood right in our path was a monster. I slammed the brakes on, and we came to a halt about a metre in front of what was actually a small elk herd. I’d been concentrating on stopping so hadn’t really noticed the others. Through the windshield we got a close up view of the elk’s butt as it cooly turned around and continued on it’s merry journey. Our truck stands pretty high, and this animal was at least as tall – it would’ve been a fraught and messy collison for both the elk and aNissan Xterra.
Hopefully we got out quota of close animal encounters out of the way for a while on this trip. We have to drive home yet though …