My sister Jen says it’s one of her favorite sounds in the world. I must admit, it’s right up there – somewhere between a really good choir singing Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus and the sounds of my grandkids’ voices.
What am I talking about? The sound of elk bugling in Rocky Mountain National Park in the fall.
That’s why Jen and I make it a point every year to trek up to Estes Park to spend at least one evening with the bull elk as they woo their girlfriends in their fascinating mating ritual. This year Bec joined us, and I think our annual tradition will become hers as well.
As dusk approaches and it begins to get darker, you start hearing the eerie sound of the bulls – a sound that begins low and increases in pitch until it echoes against the mountains. It is beautiful, and apparently the female elk agree. They can’t resist. Who could? We read that in preparation for the evening’s activities, the bulls urinate and then roll in the wet mud. What female could turn their noses up at such sex appeal?
Each year it seems we get a better show, and this year was no exception. We saw two big bulls fighting for their territory. They lowered their heads and charged each other. They stomped their feet and charged again. Suddenly (or at least it seemed sudden to us), the fight was over. We couldn’t tell who won. The two just turned around and walked off in opposite directions. We never figured out the rules, though we tried.
We watched an interesting display that included three bull elks – one of which was injured and walked with a decided limp. He must have lost a fight. The other two played some sort of elk waiting game. Suddenly, one of the bulls walked over to the other bull’s herd and lured one of the cows to come with him. She seemed undecided, but the big bull elk helped her make the decision as he began to chase her over to his herd. We couldn’t quite figure out whether she was happy or not. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter because it’s the males that make the decision.
It was a glorious weekend. The first night we cooked steaks on the grill and ate them at a table on our balcony at the Deer Crest Resort. It was a lovely warm fall night, and the grounds of this resort are beautiful. I promise I’m not being paid by the hotel to recommend this accommodation. The resort and the owners are both delightful. I can’t recommend it enough. The owner joined us that evening at the fire pit, shortly after the three of us drank our Fireball whiskey shots. Now that’s a sentence I never thought I would write. But, well, yum.
The second night, after the amazing elk show, we ate dinner at the Dunraven Inn, which provided us another grand experience. Jen ate mussels, and Bec and I each had cioppino. If I wasn’t such a lady, I would have licked my bowl. Yum again……
We had a wonderful weekend, which unfortunately concluded with the car incident about which I wrote yesterday. But what the heck! Even that provided us with a great story to tell.
Bill will be home today, and it is my sincerest hope that he will NOT have rolled in mud.