In a time where memories become intertwined with dreams, I see us two siblings bike riding in Mammoth Hot Springs, elk bugling in the October dusk of evening. We smile uncontrollably, as being in Nature is where we always felt the freest.
The family is together for the last time in the wild before you leave this earth.
I return seven years later to hear the bugling elk again, looking for comfort.
What I find though is a wholly new adventure.
It’s mid afternoon and unseasonably warm for October. The small herd of elk are lying in the the shade of the old buildings of Mammoth, waiting for the sun to drop behind the mountains so the male can once again find a suitable female.
With time to kill until the bugling will start up, I decide to explore more of the Old West buildings that make up Mammoth. I circle around the barriers that are set up to protect humans from the Elk, and walk with nary a care.
After about an hour, I find myself behind the Post Office when a lone young male Elk turns around the corner and finds itself face to face with me.
I calmly stand still until he moves further down the road. With hesitation, I carry on. No more than a few steps though and I see that the herd I previously saw had moved from their shady spot, and had cut me off from getting to my car. In fact, I was completely surrounded. My only option was to approach the medical building directly in front of me to see if I could come inside, as Elk were gaining in numbers.
As I knock and explain my situation, I can see that cutting through the building to exit the front wasn’t an option either, as the front lawn was full of elk as well. A young man offered to let me ride shogun in his van, and we would drive through the herd where I could then exit safely on the other side.
We slowly make our way past the herd, but the large male was getting increasing agitated. Without warning, he takes off at full speed though the onlooking crowd, chasing two younger males. The police go crazy, screaming to everyone….
“Get back, GET BACK NOW!”
As I run for cover up the steps onto a front porch of an old building, the large male slowly saunters back down to a grassy area between two roads. He then charges a small tree, ripping it from the earth and tangles the branches in his antlers. This only frustrates the great beast further.
Without warning, he bellows out a great bugle, then rams a camper van! The thunderous crash echoes against the mountains as the van wobbles back and forth unsteadily.
Shaking with adrenaline, I say a little prayer of thanks that no one was hurt. I forget my melancholy and realize that although she is gone, I’m still here.