It was a quiet day in the Cataloochee Valley, yesterday. We’re in the in-between season. Children have gone back to school and the real rut season has not yet started. Or has it?
After not being in the Valley for three weeks, I noticed that we’ve moved on to late summer or early fall flowers. Lots of cone flowers, iron weed and jewel weed. I saw only one lonely firepink.
I only had 29 visitor contacts but they were deep ones. Many of the visitors were people who had been in the Smokies before; some come to Cataloochee often.
I encourage everyone to walk to the Woody House and almost everyone thinks it’s a great “hike”. But as I started up the trail, I saw a woman being held up by two others. Her husband was walking briskly and asked for help. “She’s dizzy”, he said. I gave her my water bottle and encouraged her to walk out.
“It’s only five minutes. You’re almost there,” I said. “It would take me longer to get help.” When I walked back, I found my bottle on top of my car roof, so I assume they made it out all right.
I was heading back to the World’s Headquarters to sign out when I saw several cars stopped on the side of the road looking in the field past the Palmer House. There a bull elk was quietly walking around. A few females and calves were grazing. The bull was sniffing several behinds but mostly looking around. Then he bugled. It’s the first time I’ve heard it live. An amazing sound!
But I think all of this is happening too early. They shouldn’t be looking to gather their harem and mate until at least mid-September.
Elk Bugle Corp veterans tell me to enjoy myself. Once we’re in autumn proper and the rut starts, we just do traffic control.