Started the morning with a Skype call home, then headed back out to the NP to hike the Signal Mountain trail. On the drive in spotted 2 elk in the fields by the side of the road. Didn’t stop to take any photos though as there weren’t any pullouts. Little did we know that we were going to have a rather close encounter with one later on.
Parked at the Signal Mountain Lodge and followed the instructions to backtrack down the road and to the start of the trail (which started just randomly by the side of the road!). And after about 50 metres of walking into the forest a freaking huge elk walked across in front of us and decided it was a nice spot to have a bite or two. And as much as we tried to be the safe distance of 300 feet (91 metres) away as recommended, it’s a little hard when this giant creature decides to just walk on by in front.
Whilst watching/taking photos, we spotted a couple walking back down the trail towards us. They saw us watching, and with some hand signalling communicated there was a huge animal to their side. They made they’re way down quietly and slowly so as not to startle the elk. We all stood there for a bit talking and watching until the elk decided to look up and make a move back towards the trail so we all safely retreated backwards so as not to get in it’s way. The couple continued on their way out of the trail whilst we stood and pondered whether we try and sneak past the elk which would have required getting within 10 metres of it. I decided I wasn’t game to take on an animal if it charged so waited a bit for it to go on its merry way. It definitley knew we were there as when I snuck back up the hill to see if it had moved it had its head facing my way. Once it moved on we continued the hike, me slightly paranoid of any other encounters we may have especially since the couple had come across a ranger on their walk who had told them about a bear they had just shooed away. Luckily no other animals apart from squirrels and birds were spotted on the trail.
The trail was quite pretty winding it’s way through forest as well as open meadows. And I could totally understand why the animals liked it. There was good foliage cover, ponds to drink from and open plains to hang in. Plus no where near as many people as the trails around Jenny Lake. In fact we only came across 2 other hiking pairs on the trail.
Tonight it’s back to The Gun Barrel for dinner. Just a little bit more pricey than what we’ve usually been eating, but really delicious, and not that expensive by Australian standards really. The restaurant also serves game steak – think I should try elk or deer for dinner?