The weather began to clear midday today, so I grabbed my camera and headed for the Death Canyon trailhead. I found it wall to wall parked cars. It was WAY too busy for me, so I left, planning to drive up through the Park and relax – somewhere.
I wound up at String Lake. I made my way to the lake shore and was relaxing on a rock in the woods. Elk were on the far shore, a bit north of me. I heard splashing, and noticed an elk moving into the lake. Behind her, a calf tentatively began to follow.
Then, it turned back, regained the west shore, and began bleating. Mama continued across.
Occasionally she would turn back and call her calf. Damn kids never listen…
She continued across, reaching the east shore perhaps 150 feet north of me.
Baby was still on the far shore.
She then moved south through the woods near the lake edge, heading straight for me. When she was perhaps 60 feet away, I decided I really needed to let her know I was there. I began talking to her. She kept coming, browsing on the way, looking at me occasionally. I stood up when she was looking, to be more visible. No deterrent – she kept coming, until she was perhaps 15 feet from me, as she passed me.
Soon she was out of sight. I settled down.
About 40 minutes after she entered the lake, the calf was really making noise, calling for Mama. Mama began answering – north of me. She had moved back north without me seeing or hearing a thing. The two exchanged calls back and forth for about 5 minutes, then the baby finally started across.
Reunited – after more than 3/4 of an hour apart.
First thing the calf did was to nurse – but only for a few seconds. Seeking comfort and reassurance, I’m sure.
They then moved up the bank into the woods.
I never thought Mama would come close again, not with her baby, but she did. The two came past about 25 feet from me. Sorry, no pics of the calf – too much underbrush, but it was right behind Mama.
After passing me, they continued south about 150 feet together, then recrossed the lake.
I woke at 5:20 this morning, experiencing, as Dr. Sheldon Cooper described it, “Force Majeure”. A few minutes later, heading back toward bed, I noticed the time, and the clear skies, and the full moon. I had 45 minutes until sunrise, and String Lake was 45 minutes away.
I scrambled to get dressed, grabbed the camera stuff, and headed into the park. Approaching my goal, the sun was already painting the peaks orange and the moon was about to drop out of sight.
Five minutes later I was at String Lake. The moon was now hidden, but the colors were still good.
I’ve been wanting this shot all summer. If only I had been five minutes sooner…