Part of the joy of landscape photography is being out in nature. I love wandering around to get a sense of the place, especially when it is a first time visit. That was my experience at Bald Hill Road near Prairie Creek State Park in Humboldt County. Thanks to my friend and AWE Gallery photographer, Janet Stock, for showing me this location not too far from her Arcata home.
Bald Hills Scenic Drive offers many opportunities for elk viewing in an area that features redwoods, lupine fields, magnificent oak woodlands, wildflowers, and prairies. This scenic drive gives you access to the Lady Bird Johnson Rhododendron/Redwood and Tall Trees Grove, home of the some of the tallest Redwoods in the world.
Once out of the car I moved around like an “American idol” contestant on the dance floor. Well, at least in my mind anyway. I have taken to heart this good advice, “Never be content with what you see in the viewfinder the first time you raise it to your eye. Move around, lie down, find a different angle.” It was quite the dance from one lupine partner to another.
The Roosevelt Elk, named for Theodore Roosevelt, is the largest of the four remaining North American elk subspecies. They live on the western slopes of the Coastal and Cascade Ranges from northern California up to southern British Columbia. Males (bulls) average 875 pounds and females (cows) average 700 pounds. The Roosevelt Elk is also much darker than other elk species, often with a dark brown or even black neck and a tan body, and they make a distinct bugle-like sound.
Although the bull with a huge rack is a well sought-after photographic model, the females and young bucks also offer graceful poses. They are easily found roadside on Highway 101 beginning at Orick traveling north, and are less likely to charge you or run/roam away.
Jamie Sams, a recorder of Native American creeds and legends, reminds us that the Great Mystery gave each creature species common calls, except the humans. The gift for the humans was supposed to be the ability to listen. Humans can mimic the other creature’s calls and find power in their voices. This way we would know how connected we are to the great web of life and acknowledge the creature-teachers around us.
The medicine/metaphoric power of elks includes stamina, strength, ability to pace oneself in tasks, agility, nobility, sensual passion, and respect for those of your own gender. ELK inspires us to make the best of our energy so that we don’t take on more than we are capable of accomplishing.
If ELK is your animal guide, you recognize the need for companionship. ELK teaches us that we do not have to do everything ourselves. Help is nearby if we are willing to seek it out.
Blessed be ELK!