Monday, August 13, 2012

· Wildlife Extravaganza!

Grandma got run over by an elk herd...

...not reindeer...

The excuse for taking a trip to the woods two days ago was that we had a huge bowl full of 'spent' chokecherries to return to the forest for the critters to enjoy. (Remember to look for chokecherries in the last paragraph.)

Following a narrow little-used dirt road where we have in years past collected wild raspberries, Grandma (that's me) was outside and in front of the car, jogging, when I caught sight of an elk herd (shucks no camera) and motioned the car to stop. Grandpa and our 10 year old granddaughter scrambled quietly over to see what I was so excited about, while our 16 year old granddaughter waited in the car. At least 20 elk were lounging, some grazing, up on the hillside at the left side of the road. After most of the startled herd had wandered over the crest of the hill, Grandpa and gd-10 strolled back to the car, full of happiness. I continued around the bend to the left and up the hill, waving them past so they wouldn't have to chug along behind me, and thinking the elk were long gone by then. 

Was I ever surprised!...Shorty gd-10 was driving (get that!)
all by herself, with Grandpa in the seat beside her, and she couldn't even see barely over the steering wheel. They advanced, quite safely, in first gear while I followed behind, fascinated at her staying centered on the dirt road.

Suddenly I heard a loud, intense and continuous clattering in the woods on the downside of the wooded hillside, at the left. 

The commotion wrenched my head in that direction. In the late twilight I strained to see what I already sensed was going on—STAMPEDE. The elk had spooked, either by us...or by perhaps a lion. There were many more than 20, racing wildly through an opening in the trees, parallel to the road. While internally browsing my predicament, I glanced at the car in front of me still pulling distance between us, and began shouting for them to stop. But they apparently couldn't hear me...and gd-10 wasn't looking in the rear view mirror either, as I began running in an attempt to catch them, and safety. 

When suddenly some of the herd bolted across the road in front of the car, I froze...but the car kept moving forward, though creeping. I kept my eyes on nearby large trees for shelter, if necessary. After what seemed an eternity, they did finally stop (both the elk and the car). Quickly I caught up and got in, the elk up on the hillside by then. 

Then the bleating (or whatever elk sounds are called) and more clattering began in ernest, as some of the mothers of the herd, we assumed, were calling to their young from whom they were separated by the road...and by us. From this disturbance on the upside of the hill at the right side of the road, several elk burst out and plunged downhill toward us in seeming desperation, but then abruptly halted...more bleating. By this time Grandpa had taken gd-10's place behind the wheel, not yet fully aware of all I had seen and heard. He was intrigued by the scene...while Grandma was anxiously trying to persuade him that we should move on. Sam said he counted 70 elk as they crossed the road...but there were more, those still hidden in the trees on the left side. 

So, that's how Grandma almost got run over by an elk herd. 

Ok...and then earlier in the week, August 6, on a joy ride through Custer State Park (the day we learned we could pick chokecherries in the Park, asking after having seen a plethora of them), we had the rare privilege of watching a huge MOUNTAIN LION bound across the highway about 200 feet in front of the car, two graceful extended leaps, a mesmerizing sight...until the beautiful animal dissolved into the dusky woods, leaving us with a wistful feeling for more, and something to talk about on the way home. Just another boring week in the life of Sam, Linda, gd-10 and gd-16. ...although gd-16 would be picked up at the airport the next day, August 7, and then the trip back to the Park for chokecherries. You guessed it, gd-16 missed joining the Mountain Lion Sighting Club, this time.

Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast
bed and breakfast hospitality inn
hill city - central black hills national forest - south dakota
convenient lodging location near
mount rushmore - 1880 train - custer state park
- wind cave national park - jewel cave national monument
- crazy horse memorial - black elk wilderness
- mountain lakes - harney peak - norbeck scenic byway
- george s. mickelson trail - the centennial trail
- historic downtown hill city - antiques


  1. This is a great read. This is an exciting anecdote, and I am glad everyone is OK, you created a lot of suspense in your writing, and the instances going on could have created the perfect storm so to speak. It's great your granddaughters got to enjoy a few adventures with you lately.
    Love the article and your blog as well. My name is Marc, and aside from my love of travel and good stories, I also work for Bescover -- where we love all things B&B! It's truly a privilege being a part of your online community.

  2. Thank you for the compliment, Marc! We do have some amazing times with our granddaughters.