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Hiking with a Fox

Source: Personal experience

Read this and other stories in the book, Noticing Nature, by Chuck Bonner. Also available in e-book format for Amazon Kindle.

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One afternoon, a red fox joined us on a hike.

Many years ago, when my children were still children, we used to hang out on top of Elephant Head almost every evening of a camping trip. That swamp across the road looked like the perfect place for a moose to browse. So after dinner, we'd trek up to Elephant Head for a sweeping view of the swamp.

We'd listen to the spring peepers far below, watch the clouds, talk about the day's hike, or tomorrow's, and just hang out together. We never did see a moose in that swamp, but we spent many, many pleasant hours kicking back on top of Elephant Head.

(Since then, we've discovered "moose cruising." If you want to see a moose, just drive up and down Route 302 from Crawford Notch to Twin Mountain in early morning or late afternoon and stop at every likely spot. After a few cruises, you get to know the likely spots. Until then, just stop where the other "moose cruisers" stop.)

Anyway, late one afternoon on top of Elephant Head, my sons and I were watching for moose in the swamp, when I happened to look around behind us and saw a red fox, just sitting there a few paces away from us.

Normally, a fox is just about the most nervous creature you'll ever see. It seems they never sit still, and especially when they know there are people around, they disappear into the nearest cover.

But not this fox, not this time. He sat there, grooming his fur a few steps away from us, just as if he were the family dog. I had time to fire up the camcorder and tape him for a few seconds before he got up and walked, calmly, into a thicket. This move to the thicket actually brought him closer to us. He ate something, then turned around and walked back into the forest.

We didn't stay long after that. The sun was setting and we had to get back to camp before it got too dark.

A couple of times on the hike back down, we saw the fox again. He traveled parallel to the trail, and at about the same pace as us. He finally left us in the meadow back at the trail head.

We didn't see any moose, but it was nice hanging out with the fox for a while.

Epilogue: That video of the fox is on my short list of the ancient VHS tapes I want to digitize. I'll post it here as soon as I get it converted.

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Copyright © 2007, Charles J. Bonner, All Rights Reserved