Beware the ruffled ruffed grouse on Ridge, west of Western by the Lookout.
By: Linda Payne (2010/03/22)
When a seemingly demented grouse began tracking us from under the sumac and then shot out to peck a ski pole, my friend spoke calmly and used her ski pole like a gentle swizzle stick to stir the grouse backwards and away from us.
We had been warned by a guy we met who was wandering dazed, his skis off, at a muddy patch on Ridge. I called to him to tell him how great the trail was toward McKinstry, thinking he needed encouragement.
He said, "I am just here to warn you!" He told us that a grouse had chased and attacked him, pecking at his retreating shanks.
Sure enough, as we skied along we had our own encounter. My friend used her mountaineering training in grizzly bear-calming to engage the maniac bird in quiet chat while I panicked and raced off, and eventually she caught up to me, unscathed. (Not one of my prouder moments.)
Grizzlies and grouse. I have imprinted my friend's calm reaction in my head, in case I am ever alone with a grieved grouse and no superior order of friend to stand between us.