And not only was there one large bull elk, there were two! Loooooooooooovely! Thankfully at that point the dogs hadn't noticed the elk yet, because they were off to the side of the trail investigating what was most likely the area that the elk had just been. In my oh so suave manner I tried to shoo the elk on their way without drawing the attention of the dogs. Things like hucking rocks and trying to make loud noises that wouldn't immediately alert the dogs. Meanwhile, the elk just stood there and stared at me. Finally they meandered off the road and headed on up the sparsely treed hill. Right when I thought the elk were going to get far enough away, the dogs apparently realized what was going on. After a failed mad grab for collars the dogs were off and running after the elk meandering up the hill.
There was a fair amount of underbrush on the way up and the dogs were not quiet on their ascent after the elk. Bess very definitely was blinded by blood lust. Meanwhile, the elk would check over their shoulders at the crazed dogs behind them only to continue on their ambling way. Elk most definitely are not like deer that would have otherwise been up and over the hill before the dogs caught on to what was going down.
I called Heffner back and he came when called. Probably due in part to the fact that he's not a fan of wading endlessly through thick underbrush, especially going up hill. Bess continued on her merry way, closing the gap between her and the elk. Before actually reaching the elk she did end up turning around and careened back down the hillside. Both dogs were on high alert for the rest of the hike, certain that there was more game for them to "hunt down." Thankfully we didn't see any more along the way. I really wish I had brought my camera with me to snap a picture of the elk. They were quite impressive from a distance, where I happily stayed.
It wasn't until we got all the way back to the truck that I realized at some point on the hike, my truck keys had popped out of my pocket. Awesome sauce! Aaaaaaaaaand I had left my cell phone in my locked truck. Not that it would have mattered a whole lot any way since we didn't get reception in the area that we were. I thought I'd give the window between the cab and the canopy a go to see if I could manage to squeeze myself through. Before I wedged myself in there so tight that I wouldn't be able to get out, I gave up. My options were to either try to grab someone's attention back on the highway and get them to drive me somewhere with a phone or cell phone reception (an option that was a little unnerving), or I could turn right back around with the dogs and go hunting for my keys. I think it goes without question that the dogs were game for the latter option.
I was pretty sure that the keys had popped out of my pocket during my mad scramble for collars, but I couldn't be entirely certain, so I had to keep my eyes glued to the ground the whole way. Naturally, the keys had popped out at the location of the elk sighting, which was also our half way mark. I was incredibly relieved to find the keys and we started running back to the truck. We were losing light, I had doubled my intended hike time, and I was freaking hungry, so hence the reason for running. Heffner fell right into step next to me, not letting me out of his sight while Bess ranged ahead thinking that it was awesome that I was finally trying to keep up.
We made it home in one piece, albeit a little more exorcised than I had originally intended. I'll use that as part of my excuse for not going quite as long on our run tonight.;0)