As I started south toward California, I encountered a herd of elk.  I noticed people by the side of the road taking photographs, and I could not myself resist, so I stopped to snap a few of my own.  They are beautiful and majestic animals.  As I was returning to my car, I found it surrounded by a group of cows.  There is no approaching them as they are bigger (and more dangerous) than we are.  I snapped a couple of pictures and a video (below).  In the video you can see she was warning me off, and didn’t need to tell me twice.

They are known to charge humans.  As I backed away, she took a couple of steps toward me.  Photography at this point was not on my mind as she continued to slowly approach me.  I continued to back away with my eyes lowered, but also looking up occasionally to keep tabs on her.  Her approach continued, and I was not going to turn my back on her.  My camera was in my hand pointed away from her.  As near as I can tell, they were looking to cross the road (US 101) and my car was blocking their path and on foot, I just too close to them.  Just as I considered that it might be time to jump off the the 6 foot drop to my right, as I was running out of room, a pickup truck happened along.  I waved the truck to stop so that it didn’t hit the elk – and it afforded me a barrier. The herd had started to cross the road, but they were still lolling and strolling in the middle of the highway, stopping traffic coming the other way. The car at the lead of the oncoming traffic started honking it’s horn and the herd picked up its pace, moseying on to join the rest of the herd in the field below.

Crisis averted.