|The Gang Romps in From the North|
|Passing Elmira Pond|
|Gilded Rump in the Morning Sun|
|A "Little" Yearling|
|Bouncing to the Beat|
|Entering the Blue Bird Ranch|
|Movin' and Groovin'|
|The Gang Has Romped By|
Elk are like the hip-hoppers of the Rocky Mountains. Rarely do they amble or glide like deer; they bounce in such a way as to rock their golden rumps from side-to side. They'll play chase in large open fields, bucking and kicking at each other the way kids will rough-house.
Wapiti romp to their own hoof-drumming beat.
Dawn's morning light adds extra gild to their tawny hides with furry patches of russet. The romp-by begins north of Elmira Pond as the elk herd--called a gang--bobbles across a neighbor's field. I can see their glistening hides as the gang weaves in and out of Ponderosa pines.
Not much will stop a gang. Wapiti stand four to five feet tall at the shoulder and can weigh up to 1,100 pounds! Imagine a bull-elk with a four-foot rack. He'd tower over professional basketball players, and they too, would step out of the way.
Steam rises softly from Elmira Pond. Ducks, geese and mergansers may already be floating on the waters, but it's hard to see them through the mist.
Mist doesn't hide the wapiti that continue past the pond. From a safe distance--my husband proudly declares me a chicken and I accept that title--I snap photos. He'll be so happy to see them.
Wapiti is a Cree or Shawnee name meaning, "light-colored deer." Yet, somehow, Todd and I took to calling elk, "lokies" when we lived in Montana during the 1990s. Maybe one of the kids called an elk a "lokie;" maybe we confused it for "wapiti."
Traveling the 15 miles between Sandpoint and Elmira, we always look for the gang. We know the wapiti hot-spots. We've paused many times to watch them romp or feed in several hay fields.
Once we even watched a dog pursue a wapiti. Several more chased the dog and most of the gang continued to graze, unconcerned.
They graze like gilded lightening. We've watched them push through here in less than 10 minutes, eating grass the entire time. Always, though, they show up at the worst lighting for photos and I have sketchy snapshots that strain the imagination.
But today is my lucky, golden day. Today I have a full wapiti romp-by in good lighting.
The gang moves on and the sun rises. Such is life on Elmira Pond.