Charged by an Elk!
There is an abundance of wild life living in the redwoods of northern California: bear, otters, herons, eagles, fox, bobcats, mountain lions, deer, frogs, salmon, and osprey. Normally, I find it exciting to see wild animals, although I've been scared a few times encountering mountain lions.
Still, the herds of elk are usually no problem. They are peaceful and let me walk right around them. But during rutting season, September and October, the 1200 pound bull elks become extremely protective of their does.
Towards the end of a long hike last September, a bull elk spotted me and my friend and bugled a warning. Answering the call, an even bigger elk dashed up. He lowered his huge horns.
Hearts pumping, my friend and I backed away.
The elk followed.
The herd was between us and the car, and this bull elk was serious about his job. There was no way he was going to let us walk by.
We decided to skirt around the herd by heading through the wet lands down to the beach. The giant guard elk followed us, preparing to charge. He'd be on us in seconds! There were no trees, bushes, or even logs to hide behind in the grassy dunes.
Pacing behind us, the elk followed us all the way back to the trail that led up the cliffs into the forest. The only way back to the car was to hike the 7.5 mile loop again in the opposite direction, and there were less than two hours left until dark. We kept running.
Still two miles from the car, dark descended. Hiking by flashlight worked, until the batteries gave out. Then we sat on the trail, stuck in the dark, preparing to spend a chilly night worried about mountain lions and bears. Luckily, we only had to sit there for a couple hours before little bobbing lights danced up the trail. My husband to the rescue -- with flashlights!