Friday, September 2, 2011

Eldo Got Run Over By a Reindeer-Part 3

Close, but not quite! I couldn't resist using this blog title, BUT I BET I GOT YOUR ATTENTION!  Eldo ALMOST got run over by a HUMONGOUS female elk our first day at Yellowstone...Today it's the animals' show and's how it went...We've shared the pools, some of the steam vents, the bison, coyote and other stuff, now we need to tell you about the THREE elk jams we saw in the park today, and the "almost" bear jam, which we missed!  Phooey!

The START of a wildlife jam
Here's what happened...first, for anyone who doesn't know or hasn't experienced a "bear jam", an "elk jam" or a "wildlife jam" (today it was a "bald eagle jam"), that's when somebody sees something and pulls off the road SUDDENLY, that's how you know they've spotted something. If they just s-l-o-w-l-y pull off to the pull outs (and there are LOTS of them in Yellowstone), you know they are pulling off to just look around. But when they VEER off the road, ok, IT'S A SIGHTING. The next ten to twenty cars pull off quickly on the side of the sighting, then the OTHER side of the parkway starts filling up fast. People pour out of their cars, cameras and binoculars in hand and just about run you over if you happen to be in front of them and then they jostle around for best photographing position of whatever it is that has caught their eye. Everybody AFTER you, and even the people in their cars in the MIDDLE of the road, who are slowing down to gawk at everybody ELSE out of their cars, asks, if it's not obvious, "What are we looking at today?"  "Whaddya see?"  "What is it?"  We snap photos galore, half of which are going to be blurry or messed up with somebody's shirt or hat in the foreground because we are SO EXCITED to see 1) a real bear (Nope, we have not seen one single bear yet)  2) elk--up close and personal (more about that in a minute),  3) buffalo/bison and 4) miscellaneous--coyotes, wolves, and eagles or anything else that captures the fancy of us tourists. What's really amazing is HOW FAST the ranger shows up to keep an eye on in the heck do they find out so fast? What's really nice is they don't shoo you out of there, they just stand around and make sure no dumb idiot tries to get closer than 100 yards to the wild animal (300 yards if it's a bear)....("Gee, that is a GREAT rule to have, don't you think so, Sparky?" asks E.)  Yes, dear.....

OK, halfway through the day on our FIRST day at Yellowstone, we witnessed THREE elk jams....The first two elk jams, the elk were far down the hillside. I got a couple of glimpses at the biggest rack on an elk I have ever seen. We're talking ELK here, remember that....which isn't saying much, because I haven't seen elk before...It was VERY impressive.....

The THIRD elk jam is one Sparky and Eldo will never forget.  We saw the quick exodus off the road of the cars...maybe it's a BEAR, we thought...That would be so cool!  Nope, it's an elk jam...I'll bet twenty cars were already pulled off both sides of the road, so we came into it a little late....

Eldy was standing next to a couple of guys up on the hillside.  I had gotten some decent photos of the elk (two bull elk with HUGE racks) down below, a female looking up and sniffing "PEOPLE", and was starting back up the hillside towards Eldy, when something out of the corner of my eye caught my attention, and it was BIG and it was coming across the street between the two rows of cars. I turn around and a BIG, honkin' female elk was trotting across the street, nostrils flaring, eyes big and wide, about 15 FEET from me and she was heading right in Eldy's direction!  I was so flabbergasted, my eyeballs were popping out of my head, I started jabbing the air, pointing in her direction like crazy and do you think I could have presence of mind to catch this huge, beautiful creature with my camera? NO, OF COURSE NOT!!  It looked like she was going to run over my man! All I could do was stammer, point animatedly past Eldy's head, jabbering some utter nonsense about what was coming his way, "ELDY!!!! HIBBAGIBJABALOOKOMG" I was yelling something, lord only knows what, but he didn't understand, he was still looking back down the hillside, thinking I was trying to tell him something about the elk down there. Finally, he realizes that I'm pointing like a madman in his general direction for a reason, so he turns around and this big, honking female elk changed directions from coming straight across the street BEHIND Eldy and was coming straight TOWARDS him!!!!!!!  She turned at the last minute as there was a trail leading down the hillside right behind Eldy, but he thought he was going to have THE BIG ONE! I thought he and the other guy standing next to him were going to pass out! Heck, I almost passed out from how close she was....WHEW!  And no photos, RATS! But it was firmly impressed in our minds what a close call that was! I think she was just really really nervous about how she was going to get around all these people to get to the rest of the "gang" down below....We kept talking how close she was, and after seeing those movies at the visitor's center about bison and elk charging tourists and butting them, Eldy was just thankful she didn't decide to get ornery with him and butt him out of the way! I told Eldy, as a way of comforting words, that "just be glad it wasn't a bull moose with a big rack!" (A very comforting thought, says an appreciative E.)

The Bear Jam---our last traffic jam for the day was awhile later.....heading back towards West Yellowstone....we see the big traffic jam, pull over, and it was the tail end of all the excitement. Apparently, a grizzly had killed an elk a day or two before, and had been working over the carcass, when people started spotting him. There were TWO rangers today watching everyone, and by the time we go there, the grizzly must have observed all the attention being lavished upon him, so he dragged the carcass back into the tree line and out of sight....darn!  Missed the bear sighting today but not by much!

And on the way home......

Guess they like the path of least resistance.......

Tomorrow, we are going on a river float and down some side roads to hunt for moose!  See you on the Henry's Fork Snake's beautiful!


  1. It is an amazing and crazy place. Glad it turned out well. Also glad you managed to get some good pictures in the end:)

  2. Good grief! Stay in your car. Remember you can't drive that rig if an elk or anyone else gets your man! :-)

    Where were all these elk? Sounds like we made a big mistake not visiting West Yellowstone. it's the only area we didn't get to.

    Be safe out there and I don't only mean driving!!

  3. We've seen our share of "wildlife jams," and we've gotten out to get our photos like everyone else. What gets me are the idiots (and there is no other word to describe them) who stop in the middle of the road and just leave their vehicles there, sometimes with the engine still running. Talk about creating a road hazard!

  4. This was great for a saturday morning laugh. Having just experienced "wildlife jams" in Jasper NP last month, I so enjoyed reading this. You described it perfectly, much better than I ever could have. Loved it.