Elk in the Pennsylvania Wilds!

In yesterday's blip posting, I promised to reveal one last wild woods surprise. :-) My husband and I had gone on a backpacking trip to Sproul State Forest Sunday into Monday. We had returned to our car in the early afternoon on this day, managed to fit in one last little hike, and had hopped into my car to make the return trip home.

Our spirits were high. We were feeling generally pretty good about things, and we didn't want the adventure to end. In fact, we were talking about going home, and then if the weather permitted, taking the next day off for more trips and travels, just like we used to do in the olden days.

I was looking out the window when I suddenly spotted them: about a half-dozen to a dozen large creatures milling about on the hillside. "ELK!!!!!" I hollered. I liked saying it so much that I said it again: "ELK!!!!!!"

Now, you have heard me talk about elk quite a few times in this journal. The campsite where my husband and I stay in the back-country of the Quehanna Wild Area is home to elk, at least during some times of the year. They bugle there quite loudly in the fall, so much so that you have to put in ear plugs if you want to sleep!

And we have seen elk (infrequently) in Quehanna, as well as (much more frequently) elk sign, such as hoof prints, piles of elk scat, and even one time (oh happy day!), I found an elk horn. We have also smelled them in the places where they hang out; it is like the smell of horses.

But this was the first time I'd ever spotted any in this part of the state! We were so shocked that for a minute, we didn't know what to do. I was sitting in my car seat, shouting, "ELK! ELK! ELK!" Which wasn't very helpful, I know. But I was pretty darn excited!

My husband pulled my car off onto a side road, but we were way too far down the hill to see the elk from there. So he turned my car around and drove back up the hill, stopping to leave me off along the side of the road, and then going to the very top and turning around.

So I, with camera, went crashing through the underbrush, heading toward the elk. And of course, you know what THEY did. The minute they spotted me, the elk started running in the opposite direction, back up the hill! No, no, no!

So I stopped in a spot where my view was relatively clear, and I took some photos. At first, I was so excited, I was getting nothing. I looked down, my hands shaking, to see that the elk weren't even IN my viewfinder! So much for that cool head and those steady hands I usually pride myself on.  ;-)

But then I took a deep breath, and I steadied myself, and I did get some shots of the elk, including this, which I believe was a cow (female), as I did not see any antlers on it. And then the elk pranced off into the woods and disappeared, one by one!

I had to remove two ticks from my pants before hopping back into the car. Crashing through the underbrush like that will get you all ticked up. Take it from one who knows.

Ticks carry some nasty diseases, so take precautions, and check yourself early and often; even better, get naked and do it with a friend! (Probably best to wait till you get home for the naked part, lest you be slapped with both a public indecency charge AND ticks.)

When I jumped back into the car, we were laughing and shouting. And my husband, who had been sitting near the top of the hill in the car for most of my adventure, told me that I'd driven the elk straight toward him, and he'd gotten what was perhaps THE best elk sighting of his entire life! Hmm, maybe I should have given HIM the camera . . .

In any case, here is a photo of an elk in the Pennsylvania wilds, the very FIRST in my blip-history here. I'll include a few links below to more information about Pennsylvania's elk herd, for those who may be interested.

And for our song for this day, let's celebrate the delight of unexpectedly encountering large, untamed creatures in the Pennsylvania woods and wilds. Here is John Hiatt, with Something Wild.

Additional links:
History of Pennsylvania Elk
PA Elk Herd: How Far We've Come!

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