Thursday, August 11, 2015
After moving campsites, I drove north on 101. Stopping at a lighthouse overlook, all you could see was fog and clouds. One chatty tourist said he had just walked the Appalachian Trail, complaining that there were seldom views, and here he is in Oregon and can’t see the view. I stopped at a lake on the way to the lighthouse and walked a 1-mile trail around it. It was very pretty with big trees and lots of birds.
Driving north, there was a sign to follow Rt 38 to an elk-viewing area, so I turned to follow the big Umpqua River. Later I found its origin below Crater Lake. A lot of rivers have their origin on that mountain. I came to Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area, a beautiful grassy plain bumping up against mountains. Dean Creek wound its way through high grasses like a snake. I didn’t see any elk, so I drove on. I hadn’t gone very far when I saw elk running out of the forest. I hurriedly turned around and went back to the viewing area. By the time I got the camera out, there was a steady stream of elk entering the field. There must have been a hundred elk, with one big buck and lots of smaller ones. I stayed for about two hours, talking with various people who stopped to watch. Several people knew a lot about elk, many being hunters. 100 years after Lewis and Clark came through, these Rosevelt Elk were almost extinct, so there was a hunting ban for 20 years starting in 1905. Several years ago someone stopped here and shot a huge bull. It took police two years, but they caught them.
I asked one fellow, who was a hunter, how far away he could kill one. He said he was a sniper in the Army, so 1700 yards was possible. Pointing out where 1700 yards might be, I was amazed. He said 700 yards was pretty routine, and 500 was an easy shot. Looking at the distances he pointed out, I was surprised how far they were.
Ducks kept flying into the creek around the bend from us. A blue heron got up and flew to a different spot. I don’t know if they are swallow-tails or purple martins that were flying all over the creek, catching bugs, mosquitoes I guessed. This is a beautiful spot, whether there are elk or not, but the elk certainly are the featured attraction. This strain are the biggest with thicker antlers. They can run in bursts of 40 mph and sustained at 28. They can jump an 8-ft obstacle, like a dead tree when being chased. I don’t think there are any grizzlies or wolves here to chase them.