Something of a digression, but we just walked the Tomales point trail at Point Reyes National Seashore through the Tule Elk preserve. This species of elk was nearly hunted to extinction and reintroduced to park about 40 years ago.
Fine, neat, but so what.
Most of the hikers on the trail, and there were more than we’ve seen on any other trail in the park, missed the elk completely. We saw at least 21 and possibly as many as 26 (there was a large herd that was hard to count, my best estimate was 20). There’s a trick to it, well two tricks actually:
- Skill and knowledge
The first step is to find the elk. Being prey animals, even though they’re the size of small cows, they tend to hide away. We saw three heads on the top of a ridge in the distance. Were they elk? Well, out with the binoculars. Yup, elk.
Further on, to get out of the wind (Tulome trail is very windy. The Park Service quietly understates ‘even experienced hikers may find it difficult’.) we took a diversion to hide behind a pile of rocks. There was a small cluster of similar little dots in the distance. Again, out with the binoculars and quelle surprise, a herd of elk, not 100 meters from the path.
So then it was just a matter of walking to the closest point on the path and waiting. While a fair number of people walked past, chatting about this and that, we watched the elk.
At first, they were blobs in the distance.
They walked closer and soon our patience was rewarded. People kept walking past without noticing the animals. Shame.
These pictures were made with a 200mm lens, which isn’t a particularly powerful telephoto lens.