What a blessing it is to live close enough to drive to the Great Smoky Mountains! We don’t do it every weekend, but I certainly could wear the roadway out given the time. This past Saturday was a special day. Snow was coming to the mountains, and we wanted to see the Elk. Wessy has only seen a cow one time, so I wasn’t sure what she would think about the Elk. Her face said it all!
This was her chance to see them and to see snow for the first time. One day, these mountains will be her second home as she hikes the trails with me. Welcome to my world Wessy Girl!
So, what did she do when she saw these young Elk pictured above? This is her first photo looking at them through the car window with Pat holding her. I love her face (and her paws), but let me tell you, she wanted to get out of the car and “chase me some Elk!” which is a big “No” with the Park Service volunteers.
We immediately spotted a large herd at Oconaluftee, and a few minutes after we arrived, snow began to fall! Snow Wessy! There were only young bucks in the fields with “the girls.” Males have not started to shed their antlers yet. During the summer and fall, bull elk are easily identified by their impressive rack of antlersâ€”some growing over 300â€³ in the course of just a few months.
I also discovered that females prefer larger antlers because the bigger antlers, the healthier the bull, i.e. more successful at finding food in and adapting to the local ecosystem. Males that survive despite the burden of their massive antlers are chosen by the females to breed and get a chance to pass on their genes. Another little fact: bull elk need to grow symmetrical antlers to impress the ladies! LOL!
I have yet to walk about the farm that is located in the back of this field. I did years ago before the Elk were returned to the park. Lots of photos are posted of the Elk passing through those buildings.
There was a lot of delight on Anne’s face. She loves snow and then to have this large of a herd in front of her was pretty special.
We decided for “the fun of it” we would chase the snow over into Maggie Valley and leave to come home via Waynesville. But first, we had to stop in Cherokee to have a photo taken with a real Indian bear! Oh, Wessy!
Then it was time to go to several Blue Ridge “Road Closed” signs. Families were there, too, playing in the snow that continued to fall. They were sledding on the sides of the Parkway!
This was Wessy’s first few steps on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was short lived, but we’ll be back in March or April. We are in training now and will attend Dog School in Atlanta in March and go on from there. In other words, Wessy will travel with us and we want her to be welcomed wherever she goes because she is obedient and not just “nuts”!
Well, I think every dog needs to be a “little nutty” because we all need to laugh, especially in this world today! Laughter truly is good medicine for the heart, soul, and mind!
So, yes, she laughed! She loved the snow; and yes, she ate it! It was Parkway snow so that means it was okay to eat . . . a little anyway.
Mt. Pisgah is one of our hiking goals for next year. But first, we have to get back in hiking shape, grow Wessy up, get through training, and hike Black Balsam and Tennent, right?! Plus, Sam’s Knob. So, Mt. Pisgah could happen in late summer or fall.
“Memories made in these mountains stay in our hearts forever.” Amen!, which means “truly, it is by faith.”