keep going

We all have those moments and those days when we sigh, “I’m tired. I just can’t keep going at this pace. Geesh, I’m undone. This is not the life I expected or want.”

I can totally relate and I know some wildlife that can relate too. This time of year in Colorado, people flock to areas like Rocky Mountain National Park to hear the elk bugling as part of the annual elk mating season. Every fall, hundreds of elk gather in particular around Grand County and Estes Park in an unforgettable sight. And sound.

In the crisp dawn air and serene evenings before dusk, you can hear males bugling to communicate with cows. Each massive bull’s bugle resonates with a series of grunts and high-pitched squeals. Wildlife researchers have determined that male elk calls communicate everything from “you girls are straying too far away” to “keep away from my girls.” I love that both animals and humans alike were designed to communicate and stay in community.

Real-Life Going Strong

Once elk mating season is over, the mama cows start to mark off their baby calf due dates for eight months out, usually between May and June. Here is an amazing story of one elk cow and her incredible story of determination and resiliency. This mama elk is a real-life example that can uplift us in our own times of fatigue and doubts so we can keep going and going strong.

On March 21, 2019, Colorado Parks and Wildlife researchers placed a GPS collar on mama Elk R190 and tracked her migration to give birth. She lived with the Bears Ears Elk herd in Colorado’s northwest landscape, but to deliver her calf, she hit the road. Er, backwoods.

From her winter range near Maybell, this brave mama hoofed it to Steamboat Springs and over the Continental Divide (14,000+ feet). She passed up excellent, lush areas to calve and kept walking. And walking. Finally, the mama elk gave birth to a female calf along Mexican Ridge in North Park.

The Journey Makes You Strong

Elk R190’s total migration miles to labor and delivery? At least 255 miles. Talk about racking up Fitbit steps! This girl was on a mission to find the best spot where she wanted to bring her little one into the world. Zigzagging several months across ice-thickened terrain and against bracing winter winds, this mama just kept going. And going. Every day she would adapt and bend and bend some more until she found her ideal birthing spot.

The Parks and Wildlife team called her migration movement “exceptional.” Uh, yeah. More than exceptional. Perhaps when we read about this brave mama elk and her perseverance and tenacity, we too can dig deeper and keep going. One hoof, boot, or athletic shoe at a time. For as this inspiring quote reassures, “Don’t worry that you are not strong enough before you begin. It is in the journey that God makes you strong” (author unknown).