While I was gone, the Elk Bugle Corp folks adopted a highway. Well, it’s not exactly a highway; it’s the road up to the park boundary.
That’s the only picture I have since my batteries died after that. So I missed photos of asters, yellow wood tickseeds and outstanding Turk’s cap lily. There are still rosebay rhododendron and bee balm in bloom.
Going up the road, I met a woman with a plastic water bottle in hand, walking the dusty road. I stopped and asked her if she was OK. “There’s a whole park up there to hike in.” She said that she just wanted some time away from her family. I knew enough to move on.
The E-car was out for repairs – the second equipment malfunction. So my shift mates were at a loss on how to organize themselves. Finally two piled into a truck while Mark was on his own to watch that visitors did not get too close to an elk just on the road.
Based on the number of elk that was spotted, it really felt like fall. Many visitors told me that they had seen bull elk but I was skeptical. Males don’t come out until it’s almost rutting season. you know when they’re needed. But there were four in the fenced in area next to the Ranger Station. They were just sitting there, not going after the females. Yet, there are still pregnant cows. The score is – 18 calves were born so far and 15 survived.
I walked to campsite #40 and saw lots of people. I also encourage people to walk there. I’ve now updated my little photo album and tell them to take Rough Fork Trail to the Woody House and beyond.
I met three women on horseback who warned me that there was a “hunting” dog that was spooking the horses. I was ready for my first confrontation. By the time, I found the dog, it was leashed and walking with a older couple. I explained that dogs are not allowed on backcountry trails in any National Park. “But horses are?” is always the retort. Dogs are predators and give off a scent that disturbs the wildlife. Horses are not carnivores, even though they may mess up a trail.
The guy flashed me the peace sign. That was supposed to make it all OK. I escorted them out but we talked about his experience volunteering in the National Forest in Virginia. “That’s different! Dogs are allowed in the forest. We’re in a National Park.”
When I got back to the World Headquarters and signed out, I joked with Gini about my first reportable offense but she told me to report it by making a note. Gini and her husband, Pete, are the den parents of the rest of the volunteers. They live in an RV in the Cataloochee campground and live and breathe the Elk Bugle Corp.
On the way out, I saw two female elk #18 with her calf and #60 who according to Gini, lost her calf to a bear.