Tag: Elk

Home Waters

Home Waters

In the gray light of dawn, mist was rising from the surface of the Oconaluftee River. I looked ahead and saw two white-tail does and a tiny fawn splashing in the water. They spied me and stopped. Even though I froze, they were no longer comfortable in their play and went on guard, as any smart deer would do. 

They reminded me of another area I walk. There is a doe I often find frolicking in the water on a bend in the creek where she plays. I always look for her, a water sister.

This morning, after observing the fawn and does playing, I walked on. Within a few minutes I saw an elk cow and calf in the river. Light was shimmering on the water’s surface, leaves were backlit and framing the scene in glowing green hues. All of these gentle creatures, going to water to find relaxation, peace, nurturing.

I struggle for words to express how being in water heals me. I find deep kinship with the deer and elk as they stand in the flow and attend to the present moment—breathing, sensing, being. Like the Cervids, I wander into water—I collect water to filter for drinking, but sometimes I just stand and breathe and feel the cool water rushing against my skin. Like them, I am home in these waters.

Photo of Simone by David Knapp

I was born on a small bay in coastal Alabama and grew up there with a childhood full of brackish-water adventures. As an adult, I found scuba diving and cave diving immensely pleasurable. But fly fishing has brought me to my home waters.

Traditionally, home waters is a term used to describe an area of sea around one’s own country. In fly fishing, we talk of home waters as being the waters near where we live and fish. After spending many days wading in all weather and seasons, I have come to understand that home waters are the waters I carry within my body. And those waters are never separate from the rivers and creeks around me.

Amazing Beauty

Amazing Beauty

The painted trilliums were exceptionally joy-producing.

I explored a new area today and asked It to tell me about Itself. It gifted me with play experiences, encounters with wildlife, and amazing beauty. Sometimes there’s really nothing else to say except… I’m so grateful.

Here’s a few photographs with comments. You’ll get why I can’t really add any major story or realizations to this post. It’s just….Amazing Beauty.

This butterfly wing was laying on a rock in the middle of the trail. It has a red spider mite (or some red insect) on it. I thought the colors of the wing, red insect and rock were quite lovely.
The creek was exquisite with many cascading drops.
The timing was perfect. The elk gals were laying down, resting, when I went up the trail. When I came back this cow was drinking and there was an opportunity to observe….(sigh)
This silly girl gave me a big grin as she pooped in the water. I use a Grayl water filter system and drink the creek waters all the time. I will say it gave me pause…..she was such an expression of amazing beauty.
Simple beauty of the day reflected in every element of the Place.

Photography note: All images except the water are with a medium format Nikon D 800 camera. It’s heavy….heavy…so I don’t use it a lot any more. But when I do, I remember why I adore this camera. It’s a beast of high resolution. The water flow image is with an iPhone 12 Max Pro using ‘live’ mode and then scrolling up on the image and choosing ‘long exposure.’ It does a decent job but nothing like my Nikon and Really Right Stuff ball head tripod….but sometimes its just easier to go light.



I nearly fell to the ground as I felt the power of the Earth rush through me. The foggy river, honking geese, cool temps, and autumn colors blazing, opened me. The more I opened, the stronger the power of Earth energy moved through me. I wept—no, I sobbed—as I felt the strong connection to Earth Mother. To everything. In this open state, I stumbled laughing, crying, and feeling gratitude stream from me as tendrils of light.

When I came to an open area between the ripened corn fields, three bull elk were in the distance, two locked into a play for strength and dominance, even though they had separated from the cows. Their squeals and grunts were easily heard as I stood quietly. Their power was huge and I was yards away but in that open state, I felt the immensity of their energy and it was intimidating and magnificent.

I was unable to move as they pushed and shoved, squealing…. vocalizing their need to show strength and dominance. Hidden at the edge of the drying corn field, I was transformed…into elk magic, river magic, geese magic….into the Earth Herself.

Elk of the Mists

Elk of the Mists

Before I opened my eyes, I felt the warm breath of the bull elk on my face. I had been dreaming and as I made the slow journey from Dreamtime to waking consciousness, the sensation of elk breath was so real, when I opened my eyes I expected to be face-to-face with a big elk. 

That dream was about a year ago and since then the elk have a direct line to my subconscious mind. And for sure to my heart. This season of rut, if I have a strong sense of elk, I go and they are there. It doesn’t really matter where I go, if I just pay attention to the urge to go somewhere, they show up. Or I show up. However that works.

This morning I felt that call but the fog was very heavy. I figured I would just drive through the area where they are found and go up the mountain for above-fog views. I took my Nikon and tripod so was also ready for flowing water should the fog and sunrise not reveal something fun to photograph. 

When I got to the park there was a bull laying so close to the road I had to stay behind my vehicle. A woman there said he had attacked two vehicles the day before and I wasn’t so worried about my car but I didn’t want to be skewered by his amazing antlers. Nor did I want to stress him.

I moved after I took a few photographs and parked in a more neutral location. He got up and tended to his harem of cows, carefully checking them. But a rival male, one a bit larger, started bugling and within a few minutes was herding out the cows of the bull nearest me, one-by-one, and taking them back to his territory. It was epic elk magic.

Normally photographing in the fog isn’t that great due to lighting and white balance, although sometimes correctable shooting RAW format (which I always do). But today, the fog added to the mystery. The energy of the elk was wild and watching the strength of the bulls as they ran and charged through heavy fog was elementally very pleasing to the senses. But the most haunting of all was (and always is) the bugle. There was a bull across the creek, hidden by trees, but traceable through his loud and high-pitched, with a low rumble, vocalization. To hear answering calls from the others that were immersed in fog, was glorious.

I’m unsure why the elk have chosen to speak to me so deeply. More and more I trust that little intuitive nudge to go-be-with-elk. I’ve never been disappointed. And it’s not that they are always there at other times, when I don’t get the nudge. I go fly fishing and drive through the area a lot and may not see any. For some reason, the elk and I have chosen to connect in the Deep Mystery.

Nature speaks to me through dreams, intuition, and sensory experiences. The more I listen, the more able I am to dance in that realm of wild wonder.