September 27 – Visit Fern Canyon and Meeting a 16-Point Elk
We got up early with the encouragement of Martha and left for the Fern Canyon site at 8 AM. We were the first ones to arrive after driving for 10 miles on a very steep, rutted and windy park road amongst the Redwoods and then long the Pacific Coast Gold Bluffs Beach.
We started down the path noting the yellow cautionary sign about aggressive elks. Next to the trail was a large, male Roosevelt Elk that was removing the felt from his 16-point rack on a tree next to the trail.
I looked for a trail around him in the tall beach grass while he did his cleaning but found none but did find a dozen places where he had rested and relieved himself. After the cleaning process, he laid down next to the path.
Several other folks arrived who lacked caution and very slowly walked past the resting Elk that was chewing his cud. He occasionally raised his nostril to smell the passersby but seemed unconcerned that humans were passing him 10’ distant.
So, throwing all good sense aside, we approached slowly and watched for any sign that the big animal would find us offensive. When he raised his nostril, we retreated, twice.
I gave the process some thought and estimated that it would take 3 seconds for him to stand up and in those 3 seconds, we could be 1/3 the way back to our car and in the car by the time that he ran down the path after us. So, with that thought as Plan B, I became more optimistic about us passing the resting path guard.
During our planning, the Elk dug at the grass around him with his antlers and accumulated a mass of stems on his rack. Kathleen also considered using natural camouflage as you will see in the photos.
As we approached for the third time very slowly, I got up the nerve to move past him but Kathleen had second thoughts and retreated. She saw his hip move.
Finally, the Elk rose and walked away from the trail and Kathleen met up with so we could continue to the canyon.
After the Elk experience, the Fern Canyon was anti-climatic. The narrow canyon was lined with 5 kinds of ferns clinging to the steep canyon walls.
In the afternoon, we headed south to Trinidad to get fuel and supper. I had a bread bowl of almost the best clam chowder ever – The Thirsty Whale in Bar Harbor offers the best clam chowder IMHO.
Nuts and Bolts – The coach batteries were at 90% after one dry camping day, 80% after 2 days/nights and 71% after 3 days/nights. The tall Redwood trees in our campsite keep the sunlight off of the solar panels for half of the day and the panels are horizontal and not perpendicular to the sun’s rays which makes the panels less efficient in producing power.
We ran the generator for 40 minutes and charged the batteries up to 78% which should be enough until we leave tomorrow morning. (In the morning, it was at 72%.)