We Hiked to See Grizzly; Instead, Elk Trapped Us at the Campsite

As I started to type this entry, Tracy yelled, ”Get in the trailer, quick!”

One elk from the small herd that has spent the afternoon around our trailer got spooked and ran willy nilly, first toward us, and then across the campground and into the kitchen house (the building where campers can wash their dishes). She moved fast.

This is why we don’t take Banjo on hikes. Everywhere here in Jasper we’re warned that the cow elk are aggressive this time of year, plus the hike I had planned for this morning was reported to have grizzlies on it each day for the past few weeks.

So Banjo had a nice walk along the Athabasca River before we left her in the Airstream and drove to the trailhead.

Pyramid Lake Hike

We did a 5 mile loop up a mountain, with views galore, then back down.

Tracy walked in front with the bear spray and the SOS satellite pinging thing in case we needed helicopter-saving, and I walked behind asking questions like, ”What do I do if you get attacked by a grizzly in front of me and the bear spray doesn’t work?” and ”What do you do when an elk charges you?” and ”Should we touch this grizzly scat to see if it’s warm?” I’m a real thrill to have on a hike, if you couldn’t tell.

Canada National Parks have this practice of placing red Adirondack chairs at famous views and using them in marketing materials, so we’ve been joking about seeing Red Chairs™ wherever we can. Here Tracy’s posing in one for me, but the view of that mountain is so worth a little marketing.

More giant mountain scapes, more glimmering lakes. The town in the sunlight is Jasper; the lake is Pyramid Lake (I think). No grizzlies, though, for better or for worse.

Surrounded at the Campsite

There’s a least one huge herd of elk in and around the two park campsites here near the town of Jasper. You can tell that people must visit for only a day because they have absolute fits when they see elk, stopping their cars in the middle of the highway and hanging our their windows to take photos.

As we were driving back from the trailhead, I heard calves calling for their mommas across the highway. What an otherworldly sound.

We decided to eat lunch insides the trailer despite the decent weather because about ten elk were grazing in the campsite. They look few and far away in this shot, but that’s because I was afraid to walk out to where I could get a better shot.

Banjo could smell them, and they could smell Banjo. She’s been quarantined inside, poor elk-lover that she is.

Our campground is named “Wapiti,” which is a native word for large red deer, often confused with elk (I think the translation might be the confusing part). In any case, the campground is named aptly, and the next time we think of hiking to see wildlife, maybe we’ll just stay home.