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|17th February 2009, 09:11||#1|
Elks in Kentucky
This is about a recent trip that I did in one of the State Forests of Kentucky. This was a weekend trip traveling all the way to Kentucky, to witness one of the unique wildlife initiatives the state has undertaken.
Before we go into the details of the trip, here is a teaser.
More coming soon
|17th February 2009, 15:19||#6|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Jun 2007
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Looks like something great is cooking in KY and it's not chicken !! Will wait for the teaser campaign to end soon and (light, camera) action to start.
Last edited by Sudipto-S-Team : 17th February 2009 at 15:22.
|18th February 2009, 08:11||#7|
Ok, so lets get back to the travelogue.
|18th February 2009, 08:48||#9|
The Elk story
The state of Kentucky (KY) has one of the richest coal deposits in USA and the third largest producer of coal of USA. Southern and Eastern KY is full of open cast coal mines. Once the coal is taken out from these mines, the land gets wasted. Here comes the Elks.
In order to utilise the land effectively, Elks were introduced in the mine areas. These Elks, native to the Rocky Mountains were introduced 6 years ago. They started with 7 Elks. The Elks adapted to the environment and the Elk rehabilitation became a success story. The State Parks/Forests have a total of 7000 Elks today. Some of these state parks arrange for Elk tours during specific times of the year.
We came across some information about these Elk tours and decided to give it a go. Here is how our plan stood:
Day 1 : Drive from SC, across 5 states and reach Buckhorn State Resort Park, KY, around 380miles away.
Day 2 : Join the State Park tour that would take us to the areas where Elks are normally sighted.
Day 3 : Leave early in the morning, do some sightseeing and return to SC by 6pm, in time to return the rental car.
So, as planned, we picked up our rental from Hertz. It was a Nissan Altima 2.5S. I was not very keen to have that, but then, I had never driven a Nissan, so decided to give it a go. The car turned out to be pretty good, with good pull and a smooth engine.
The weather has been exceptionally cold this week and as we started moving north, we could see the first signs of snow and ice on the road. We had planned to take the drive leisurely, planning to reach the resort by 3pm.
After a while into the journey, I discovered that the Windshield washer of the car is not working. During snowy/icy conditions, it is absolutely necessary for the washer to work. I thought that there was no washer fluid, so stopped at a gas station, pour some fluid into the container under the hood, but, things did not change. While the weather remained cloudy, I was getting concerned anticipating what was to come.
Anyway, the onward journey was uneventful. We stopped at a few places for photoshoots and finally reached the resort by 3:30pm.
The state park has a river passing through it and the resort is built overlooking the river from a hill. The overall layout was good.
Entrance to the Park Office
As we settled down, we realized that it was getting cooler fast and the wind was also gathering speed. After getting fresh, we decided to have a walk along the river.
To our surprise, the river was frozen with a small rivulet still managing to flow along the middle of the river. It was getting cold fast and we roamed for about an hour and went back to our cottages.
An empty, frozen boat dock.
The plan was to get to bed early as we have to join the Elk tour offered by the resort next morning. The tour starts at 6:30am and thats real early.
The view from the cottage balcony.
Day 2 coming up, stay tuned.
|18th February 2009, 23:29||#11|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Jun 2006
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Did the Altima pass the "Elk Test"?
Waiting for more
Last edited by 1100D : 18th February 2009 at 23:31.
|18th February 2009, 23:50||#12|
Join Date: Dec 2007
Thanked: 79 Times
|19th February 2009, 04:32||#14|
|19th February 2009, 05:04||#15|
As planned, we woke up early in the morning as we had to leave by 6:30am. It was extremely cold outside. We got ready and before leaving our cottage, I called up the reception to confirm the trip.
Bad news was waiting for us. The Elk trip has been postponed until 10:30am, due to icy road conditions and the park is not getting clearance from the State Police to take tourists on that road. We will not be able to leave until the weather situation improves. This dampened the mood of the team. Chances of wildlife sightings are high during early and late hours of the day. I was disappointed to know that we would be going 10:30am.
View from inside the reception area.
From the balcony
The long waited started. To kill time, we took a small hike around the hill, overlooking the lake. When we returned from the hike, we were told that the authorities have not given clearance yet and the trip has been rescheduled till 1:00pm.
View of the lake from the hike
We were praying that the trip happens because this was the very reason we came all the way from SC. All along, the weather conditions did not improve much. It was extremely cold and gloomy.
Around 2:00pm, things started looking positive. The park authorities went out on a drive to ensure the road was safe. Finally the good news came that we can start at 3:00pm.
We were a total of 16 persons, divided into 2 vans. The drive would take around 1hr to reach the spot where Elks were spotted the previous day. Off we went. The driver was very cautious all along and asked everybody in the van to wear seatbelts.
Finally we arrived at the forest. After driving for around 10-15mins, we spotted a large herd of Elks along a hill slope. As we stepped out of the van, we realized how cold it was. There was significant wind as well and our hands were getting numb. Visibility was also low, due to a thin veil of fog/mist hanging around and also it was a cloudy day coming to an end.
The parked vans
While most of the other tourists, mostly aged Americans, opted to stay inside the van and watch through their binoculars, me and my friends started walking very cautiously towards a vantage point, from where we can get some good pictures.
The slopes and the trail
Since vegetation was thin, the Elks could see us. We tried to minimize our movements and proceed with extreme caution. The pics that would follow are not of very high quality, due to the light and weather conditions.
This picture would give an idea of the distance from where the Elks were shot
My teleconverter helping me
I spent around 45mins out in the cold before it was time to go. It was also getting dark. As we started walking back to the van, it started snowing.
Returning back to the resort
While returning back, we decided that we would come back again, to spend more time with the Elks. As we had planned for Day 3, we would leave the resort early, drive the Altima upto the point we came by van and then start our journey back to SC. It would be a hectic day for us.
There are more Elks pics coming up from Day 2.
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