So when Oct. 6 dawned gray and rainy and cold, I did not cancel plans to take my brother up to Rocky Mountain National Park to see the elk. I did tell him not to hurry up from Denver; that the show wouldn’t begin until tea time.
So he didn’t hurry. In fact he didn’t get to my place until noon. We stopped for coffee then I drove up into Estes Park where we had a leisurely lunch at a restaurant he remembered enjoying. We wandered around a store or two then drove into the park itself at almost precisely 4 p.m.
Using the Beaver Meadows entrance, it only made sense for me to drive first to Moraine Meadow. And there they were. First just two, in the distance – and looking the other way.
Then, as we drove out of the meadow-- a whole harem and a bull who seemed quite pleased with himself.
We got out of the car and walked as close as the rangers would let us. We could see the gradations of beige, the white rumps and black shiny noses. Even hear the crunching of golden grasses.
But that was not enough for me – I had missed this autumnal ritual far too often. I decided we needed to drive over to Sheep Lake meadow, so I headed in that direction.
En route, along the side of the road, a whole panorama of elk, majestic in a meadow framed by brilliant aspen and deep green pines. After several minutes of deep appreciation, we proceeded, stopping at a park commode before heading for the Sheep Lake overlook.
There, as darkness gathered, we looked out over a meadow crowded with elk. Their bugling echoed in the twilight as three does waded in the lake.
We listened to the witty banter of the ranger then, around 7 p.m., headed out for dinner then down the mountain.
It was a long and most excellent day. Finally, finally, finally, I was elked.