November 7, 2009

November 7, 2009 11:04 am

I began my trek to the majestic tree destined for our nation’s Capitol at about 4:00 am just outside of Greer, Arizona.  My ride to the cutting site and ceremony came courtesy of Jason Mangum of Show Low.  As the Director of Parks and Rec, Jason and his team led by Stefan Wenau designed a public event to commemorate this historic event.  The three of us stayed in Greer courtesy of Molly Butler Lodge with our families.  The quaint hamlet allowed us to be closer to the cutting site, which is still a good hour and half away.

As I walked the dirt road down the main highway to meet up with Jason and Stefan, I came upon about a dozen massive elk watering at the Little Colorado.  It was still pitch black out and the wind was blowing in a direction that masked my approach.  I heard the animals breathing and moving along the frigid stream before I ever saw them.  At the exact same time woman and beast collided.  I must have jumped a foot off the ground and I know that they did as well.  With my heart racing, fear seized my body and I turned to stone.  Only a few yards separated us and for some reason, the elk decided that I was not going to interfere with their watering.

I spent the next few minutes completely stock still marveling at this moment that I knew would never come again.  These gentle giants stood with me in the moonlight while I waited for a truck to come bouncing down the highway which would end this magic.  And it did.

The yellow headlights of City of Show Low truck came rumbling down the lane and that was that.  The elk chose to dance away, leaving me stunned, humbled and amazed by the power of nature.



United States Forest Service