Taken in the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge, near Bonners Ferry, Idaho.
I’ve photographed elk before. In the Clam Lake, Wisconsin area there is an ongoing scientific study of reintroduced elk. The Wisconsin elk are Rocky Mountain Elk. There are four types of elk left in North America, Roosevelt Elk, Tule Elk, Manitoban Elk and Rocky Mountain Elk. Two types, Eastern Elk and Merriam’s Elk, have been extinct since the 1800s. Of the four remaining types of elk, the Roosevelt Elk are the biggest and are thriving on along the west coast of North America.
The easiest way to find them was at an elk viewing area near Reedsport, Oregon. The story Oregon gives for why these elk are here is, European farmers moved into the area, created fields of grass for sheep and cattle and the Roosevelt Elk in the area came down to the fields to enjoy the grass and stayed.
So these animals are free to roam. When I was there I counted at least fifty elk in these fields.
But it was far more thrilling to find them roaming in the wild near the campground I stayed at in Cape Blanco State Park, near Port Orford, Oregon. A beautiful state park that has nice shady sites, lots of privacy, water and electric hookups for $22.00 a night. With lots of Ocean trails to hike, expansive beaches to photograph and a herd of Roosevelt Elk; it was a very nice place to stay.
The herd I saw at Cape Blanco State Park had two young males, six females and five calves. The larger bull males were conspicuously absent, but the female elk will gather in herds like this during Spring in order to protect their young.
And, unlike the Reedsport herd, these elk didn’t take long to react to my presence.
Since Crater Lake has only one legal way to get down to the lake, I decided to hike down. Cleetwood Cove Trail is a little over a mile (1.6 kilometers) long and drops 700 feet or about 230 meters. The trail is rated as strenuous. The hike down is not strenuous at all, but the hike back up, that’s entirely different.
Ranger guided boat tours and a ride out to Wizard Island are available for a fee, running from free for the little ones (under five) up to $37.00 for an adult. Children aged five to thirteen and seniors get a price break.
I didn’t go for the boat ride. I hiked the trail because of the stunning views and because it was there.
Cleetwood Cove Trail zigzags down to the boat landing and I saw people of all ages, sizes and shapes enjoying the walk down. Two fisherman had gone down before the rangers, and I arrived just as the rangers made preparations for the day.
Eventually, the boats filled and the tours began,
and I hiked back up to the top.
In ancient times Mount Mazama erupted, covering an ancient river with pumice. The water in the river boiled and escaped to the surface as steam. The vents the steam escaped through hardened and over time a new river, the Rogue River, carved through the softer pumice exposing these mysterious rock features known as the Pinnacles of Crater Lake.
Ecosystems have delicate balances, we all know that by now. Clark’s nutcracker is an example of the delicate balancing mechanisms within nature.
Whitebark pine tress exist at the highest levels of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains through some of the harshest weather on this planet. Clark’s nutcrackers exist on the whitebark’s seeds. It will feed on them and store the seeds to feed their young or themselves later. Sometimes, the birds leave some seeds behind and that is practically the only way whitebark pine regenerates.
Looks like a nice place for tomorrow’s hike.