Like the water that falls within Rocky Mountain National Park and flows out across the country, the trails I use to visit some of the falls in this project have many varied users.
Hiking up to Bridal Veil Falls last week to catch the falls in the last gasp of summer in the pre-dawn half-light, I met some of the other users. The McGregor Ranch trailhead lies just within the Park’s boundary, but the trail to get to the Falls lies mostly just outside the line. As I climbed the trail through aspens and willows, I tried to make as much noise as possible to give fair warning to any bears or lions that were also on the trail that morning. So when the reject from Rambo VIII jumped out of the bushes dressed in a full gilly suit and camouflaged bow, I nearly jumped out of my skin.
His first reaction was anger at me and the noise I was making. My first reaction was even less dignified. We both calmed down and he asked if I’d seen the group of three bull elk he was trying to call out of the park and shoot. I hadn’t, and frankly hoped my noise had scared them deeper into safety. I know the Park has an elk problem and doesn’t want to use natural means to control the population, but a hunter loitering just beyond the boundary of the Park still seems like cheating to me.
After a few minutes talking with the hunter, I walked on, making more noise than ever now that I knew that hunting season had begun and the woods were full of hidden bowmen. Behind me, the sound of fake elk bugling started in the hope of deception.