Denise Goldberg's blog

Monday, September 24, 2012

elk day

Oh! It was a good elk watching day today! It was a day split into two pieces, but both pieces of the day included watching elk. It was a morning for walking and an afternoon of visiting and walking. Shelley drove here to spend the afternoon with Denise, but first we had the morning to wander in the park.

Denise stopped at one of the park's visitor centers to ask about a short and flat hike. She was afraid that a hike with lots of up would take too much time. The ranger suggested hiking to The Pool in the lower section of the Bear Lake area, the section that didn't have restricted access (by cars) during the day. We parked a little far from the trail head and walked down a very pleasant dirt road lined with aspens. We started down the trail, walking for a bit, wandering off in places to walk down to the river. After about 20 minutes on the trail (not the road!) Denise switched to her long lens to try to grab a photo of a little chipmunk. The chipmunk had other ideas though - he didn't stay still long enough for a photo. We stood there for a bit, watching him run and jump. Then instead of going forward we turned around. Walking down a narrow trail through the woods - pretty as they were painted in bright yellow - didn't feel right to Denise this morning. She had noticed some grassy sections along the road where it looked like we could walk up to the river as it wound through grass. And we could see the mountains there too. No one else was walking on the faint trail we followed. Denise was about to change to her wide lens when she heard a sound.

Oh! There was a big bull elk not too far away - and he was getting closer.

We moved back, and the elk also turned in a slightly different direction. Then we looked through the trees and saw a whole herd of elk, happily munching on the grass and (I think) on some of the trees). We were joined by a couple of other people as we stood and watched and (tried) to get some photos. That was so cool!

After watching for a while, Denise finally did change to her wide lens. She walked away from the elk, heading to a bend in the river where she could see the mountains. There was a bit of a cloud reflection in the river too. Nice.

The morning disappeared quickly. We headed to the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park to meet Shelley. What a wonderful old building! We wandered through the public sections of the hotel looking at the photos on the walls - photos from a long time ago. Then we started walking. We walked down the river walk, following it as far as we could, then walking down the main street of town. Walking back, we stopped at a Thai restaurant for lunch, splitting an order of Pad Thai and an appetizer. That was good!

After food it was time for more walking. We walked past the visitor center to find elk clustered together at the end of the golf course, eating, walking, eating. The bull elk occasionally let out one of his eerie cries. That's such an odd noise!

After standing and watching the elk for a bit, Denise & Shelley decided to continue to walk the path towards Estes Lake. There were more elk hiding in the brush close to the water, a section of wet that was before the lake really began. There were 3 or 4 young males wandering in there, at least one of them scratching his antlers on some branches. No harem there, just young males. One even popped up on the path we were walking. It's a good thing we weren't ready to turn back yet because we didn't want to walk that close to the elk.

We walked to the end of the lake before we turned back. We walked under blue skies decorated with white clouds and we walked under a little bit of rain. When we turned back we could see rays from the sun and what looked like rain over the mountains. By the time we got back to our cars the rain was coming down in big ploppy drops. We didn't get too wet though.

Shelley was right - there was a big beautiful rainbow after the rain stopped!

It was a good morning wander and a very good afternoon visit.

--- Rover