We had just arrived at the condo we’d rented for a week in Estes Park and were chatting with the older woman in the unit next to ours. Several elk were roaming the area around our new little home away from home including this huge bull. Elk begin the rut in September and we knew from a prior visit how thrilling it is to encounter these magnificent animals almost anywhere in the Estes Park area. So to see one in the parking space behind our condo, well, let’s just say it was pretty amazing.
The bull was surrounded by several females and this guy was certainly protective of his ‘girls’. They were approximately 20-30 feet away from where we stood unloading our car. The male started toward me. Instinctively ( and foolishly!) I raised my camera to take yet another photograph but when he came a little faster, huffing and snorting in a manner indicating his apparent displeasure in our proximity, I moved around to the other side of our vehicle.
It happened just so fast. The whole episode felt surreal. There she was, our neighbor – who we had met just fifteen minutes earlier – lying face down on the pavement next to the driver’s side front tire with Mr. Elk standing over her. His head was down, his massive rack lowered as if ready to strike again if she presented any additional threat to his harem.
Not likely, as she was bleeding profusely from above her right eye and under her chin. Her shirt was soaked in blood. My husband raised his arms, yelled and hit the hood of the car to get the elk to run off. Eventually, the bull tired of the game and turned around, calmly walking away and back into the woods.
I grabbed some napkins from the glove compartment and Bill went next door to retrieve her husband. We helped the woman up and then they left for the ER. Her injuries required stitches in both places and she also suffered a jawline fracture. She could have been blinded or killed and was extremely fortunate the elk had not injured her more seriously.
There are signs located throughout Rocky Mountain National Park advising visitors to maintain a distance of at least two bus lengths when encountering elk. Duly noted, RMNP. Duly noted!
This grand specimen greeted us early one morning as we drove into Rocky Mountain National Park last week. He stood just across the road from us and raised his head to bugle. When he’d finished staring us down, he ran across the road right in front of our car. Incredible! We saw elk throughout our week long stay but seeing this guy took the prize. A wonderful way to start our day! Just one of many memorable moments to cherish forever. Dare I say – this is what life is all about!
My husband and I (no, NOT pictured here!) just returned from a week in Colorado. We stayed in Estes Park and had ourselves a wonderful time. Hiking the trails in Rocky Mountain National Park was more lovely, more beautiful, more amazing than I could have ever imagined. We only scratched the surface of what the park has to offer and so, like General MacArthur, we shall most certainly return – perhaps time and time again.
An interesting observation that Bill and I both made during our visit was the surprising number of elderly hikers on the trails. We encountered this lively couple on two separate outings as we made our way ever upward, navigating steep inclines, large rocks and loose gravel en route to incredible vistas, towering cliffs, rushing streams, golden aspens and roaring waterfalls. The woman shown here is 65, a cancer survivor and her partner is 80. We chatted about this ‘elderly phenomenon’ with some younger hikers at one point on the trail. They had hooked up the day before with a couple who were both 85, one of whom had had a knee replacement. The octogenarians took them through a shortcut in the trail that they knew about and the youngsters told us they had a hard time keeping up.
How cool is that?
Some of these seniors told us they had been hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park for 30-35 years which is probably key to their ability to traverse this challenging terrain with such ease. But I don’t think that tells the whole story. To a person, everyone we spoke to exhibited an enthusiasm and a joy of living that, I believe, helps to propel them forward just as surely as the hiking boots on their feet or the hiking poles held in each hand.
Inspiring? You bet. The time is NOW to get out there and enjoy life: To commune with nature, to eat healthy and be active, to keep putting one foot in front of the other whether as ‘flat-landers’ (as the couple above described themselves) or as experienced hikers in any one of our nation’s amazing national and state parks. John Muir once said “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…”
After a week spent in awe of Rocky Mountain National Park, I could not agree more.