If Texas mule-deer and Palo Duro are your frame of reference you are woefully unprepared for The Elk and the Grand Canyon…
It’s 9 o’clock dark after an hour ride through the cold rain from Kingman to Williams. A warm cup of coffee later I’m ready to ascend the last 50 miles to the South Rim. But while inside drinking coffee the seat on the Harley had turned white. Hail? I go back inside and ask some locals if the ride up to the canyon is dangerous. In unison they warned, “Watch out for the elk!” Pitch black hail storm and all they can say is “watch out for the elk.”
I called the hotel—same question, same response. “Watch out for the elk.” I thought about a warm soft bed on the South Rim and stared at the fleabag hotel across the street, then walked outside and fired-up the Harley. Tonight we hunt elk. In a pitch black hailstorm. On a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. In the Grand Canyon National Forest.
The hail was the size of bee-bees and more psychedelic than fearsome until—Giant Black Linguinis!!! With that tangled mass of skid marks the thrill of the hunt was now the sheer terror of becoming one with an elk carcass at 60mph. Things never turn out the way you plan.
An hour later I arrived feet tingling, hands numb, and—strangely exhilarated. You are never as alive as you are when locked-in the slipstream of nature’s force. This is why people surf, kayak, hang-glide, and ride motorcycles in hail storms. With an exaggerated sense of achievement I strode into the lodge and—there it was. “The Elk.” A head-mount on the wall staring right at me, unflinching. The largest creature with the largest rack I’d ever seen. Good thing I didn’t know.
Nature makes us do crazy things and there was no shortage of that on the South Rim the next day.