Saturday, September 24, 2011


On the first day of autumn 2011, I gave myself a day off. I had no agenda other than escape – and time in the mountains. Wildlife would be a bonus. Especially bugling elk. But nothing was required. It was amazingly liberating.

First stop: Estes Park. After finding a good selection at the excellent card shop, I spent an hour or so drinking tea and reading a friend’s manuscript on a sun-drenched patio. I then wandered to a favorite shop but bought nothing. Then ambled to a favorite restaurant for a nice long lunch, reading more of the manuscript.

It was time to go into Rocky Mountain National Park. There was elk drama going on before the entrance station!

Once in the park, I drove to Sprague Lake and, although unable to walk its perimeter, I did manage to, for the first time in my life, take a photograph of trout. I then retired to a picnic table to read more of the manuscript. Once, looking up, I saw a raven eating a tiny trout. I didn’t even know they fished!

Eventually moving on (no agenda means no hurry) I drove to good elk viewing spots. First, Moraine Park, which looked too crowded, then Upper Beaver Meadow. At the end of the road there was one young bull at the very edge of the parking lot. Posing!

Driving further, I stopped next at West Horseshoe Park, attracted by the tailgaters leisurely enjoying snacks as they waited for the elk show. After some pleasant, casual conversations, I moved on – to a spot that seemed to have more ‘action’ at Sheep Lakes. And indeed, I could see the whole saga – the bull protecting his harem with bugling and feinting. Fascinated, I watched until about 6:45 before getting back into my car.

There’s a steakhouse about a mile outside the park that I’ve been meaning to try but its parking lot was overflowing. I found another, more unassuming, restaurant on the east side of Estes and after a nice dinner drove down the canyon and home.

A great day. A perfect way to celebrate the equinox … and restore my equanimity.

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