What is this eternal question that has been posed by many, the answer to which seems to be just beyond the grasp of all?
“At what elevation do elk turn into moose?”
|Elk calf through a screen door dimly - future moose?|
No one has actually ever seen a melk, nor does anyone really know at what optimal elevation this metamorphism actually occurs. Are there distinct “stages” through which elk must pass in order to obtain their mooseness?
|Elk antlers and skull - ghost of a melk?|
The elevation range for melk is thought to be around 8000 feet above sea level, give or take a few inches. Alas, the Central Plateau of Yellowstone fits nicely into that criterion. For sure, there have been those who claim to have stumbled across a melk, perhaps in some remote thermal swampland or sluggish river drainage of backwater northern Wyoming and southern Montana (not sure what’s going on in Idaho, however). Grainy Kodak Instamatic photographs allegedly of melk have been furtively passed around in dingy mountain cabins and by the fading light of dying embers of midnight campfires. But these claims remain unverified; no legitimate photo has yet been published.
And so I made the decision last week to launch my own late–summer quest, a quest that would take me into the back of beyond. I would, in the end, have nervously tiptoed through seething bubbling hot springs; noisily slogged hip–deep in festering leech–ridden wetlands; and treaded uneasily through the darkest grizzly–infested forests. Anyone who wanted to join me was welcome, and there were legions of those who were eager. OK, there were only three, and they had no idea they were searching for anything until I clued them in. One sojourner insisted that we would also have to look for yeti while we were out there slogging and treading and tiptoeing, so we added those to our agenda.
Ultimately, we all agreed our undertaking was becoming curiouser and curiouser.