Irked sea lions and a strange peanut pusher

Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

 

CALIFORNIA
Two sea lions, understandably irked at having their afternoon snooze interrupted, were filmed chasing off panicked beachgoers at La Jolla Cove in California. Charlianne Yeyna, the woman who took the video and uploaded it to TikTok, told NBC San Diego that she thought it was funny to “see all these tourists getting blown away by these giant sea lions.” Many people agreed, as the video racked up millions of views. We recently reported on the problems caused by Yellowstone visitors who take selfies with bison only to find themselves quite literally on the horns of a dilemma, but watching the bison’s aquatic cousins going aggro and charging day-trippers at the beach is next-level. Stay safe, and remember: Do not pet the fluffy sea-cows! Because they’re not really fluffy, and it clearly TikToks them off.

COLORADO
Bob Salem, a proud resident of Colorado Springs, successfully pushed a peanut — yes, a peanut — all the way up 14,115-foot Pikes Peak using only his nose. Wearing a plastic ladle fastened onto a CPAP breathing mask and crawling up the notoriously steep 13-mile-long Barr Trail, he was a curious sight. He told The Gazette that hikers were “constantly asking” what he was doing, and he obligingly stopped for photos with some of them. Salem began his ascent at 9 a.m. on July 9 and finished at sunrise on July 15. Strange as it may seem, and it does seem strange, he isn’t the first person to achieve this quirky triumph. In 1929, Bill Williams won a $500 bet by nosing a peanut to the summit in 11 days. Ulysses Baxter, in 1963, made it in eight (his peanut is proudly displayed at the Manitou Springs Heritage Center), while Tom Miller, in 1976, reportedly summited in just under five days. Pilgrims around the world often humble themselves by crawling to a holy place. Salem’s trek marked the 150th anniversary of the founding of Manitou Springs — right next door to Colorado Springs. Salem said he has a soft spot for eccentric types, and we figure his audacious achievement puts him way ahead of the competition. At the very least, he leads by a nose. Call us Freudian, but we confess to being filled with peanuts envy.

WYOMING
The Jackson Hole News&Guide reported that ElkFest’s Boy Scouts of America Elk Antler Auction held a live event after a two-year pandemic hiatus. For 55 years, the Boy Scouts have collected naturally shed antlers at the 25,000-acre National Elk Refuge — a job only park personnel and the Scouts are authorized to do — and weighed and sorted them for the auction. This spring, there was beaucoup buzz because the skull and rack formerly belonging to “Big Bull,” a renowned refuge resident who died in 2017, were up for auction and expected to fetch $20,000, or more. Cliff Kirkpatrick, an ElkFest organizer, attested to the elk’s awesomeness: “He was hard to miss because he always had the biggest rack.” If the festival had a signature cartoon, we imagine it would be in the tradition of Gary Larson: A well-antlered elk in conversation with a shed hunter, with the caption reading: “Dude, my eyes are down here.” 

The annual ElkFest celebrates “Wapiti and Wilderness in Jackson Hole.” (“Wapiti” derives from the Shawnee and Cree word for “white rump.”) The festival coincides with Old West Days, which also features the Teton Powwow, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Annual Banquet, a chili cook-off, ranch tours on horseback, stage-coach rides, a parade and even a town square shootout — staged by actors, of course, or so we hope.

In case you’re wondering why there’s so much fuss about antlers, “shed hunting,” as the pastime is called, has become big business. Shed antlers are used around the world for naturopathic medicines, medical research, dog chews, Western-style furniture, chandeliers and good ol’ trophies for over the fireplace.

Other Western states also attract shed hunters, but every spring an impressive herd of them stampedes Wyoming’s public lands near the National Elk Refuge, where the collection season officially opens in May. The New Yorker reported that top-grade antlers can go for $16 a pound, and buyers will pay as much a $1,500 for a prodigious set. The most valuable skulls are still adorned with antlers and called “deadheads” — not to be confused with devoted followers of the Grateful Dead, who are not, as far as we know, generally used for decorating purposes. 

Tiffany Midge is a citizen of the Standing Rock Nation and was raised by wolves in the Pacific Northwest. Her book, Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese’s (Bison Books, 2019), was a Washington State Book Award nominee. She resides in north-central Idaho near the Columbia River Plateau, homeland of the Nimiipuu.

Tips of Western oddities are appreciated and often shared in this column. Write [email protected], or submit a letter to the editor

 

High Country News Classifieds
  • NORTHERN NEW MEXICO PROJECT MANAGER
    New Mexico Land Conservancy is seeking a qualified Northern New Mexico Project Manager to provide expertise, leadership and support to the organization by planning, cultivating,...
  • GRAPHIC AND DIGITAL DESIGNER
    Application deadline: December 17, 2022 Expected start date: January 16, 2023 Location: Amazon Watch headquarters in Oakland, CA Amazon Watch is a dynamic nonprofit organization...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Eugene, Ore. nonprofit Long Tom Watershed Council is seeking a highly collaborative individual to lead a talented, dedicated team of professionals. Full-time: $77,000 - $90,000...
  • GIS SPECIALIST
    What We Can Achieve Together: The GIS Specialist provides technical and scientific support for Geographic Information System (GIS) technology, data management, and visualization internally and...
  • LOWER SAN PEDRO PROGRAM MANAGER
    What We Can Achieve Together: The Lower San Pedro Program Manager directs some or all aspects of protection, science, stewardship and community relations for the...
  • FOREST RESTORATION SPATIAL DATA MANAGER
    What We Can Achieve Together: The Forest Restoration Spatial Data Manager fills an integral role in leading the design and development of, as well as...
  • WATER PROJECTS MANAGER, SOUTHERN AZ
    What We Can Achieve Together: Working hybrid in Tucson, AZ or remote from Sierra Vista, AZ or other southern Arizona locations, the Water Projects Manager,...
  • SENIOR STAFF THERAPIST/PSYCHOLOGIST: NATIVE AMERICAN STUDENT SPECIALIST
    Counseling Services is a department strategically integrated with Health Services within the Division of Student Services and Enrollment Management. Our Mission at the Counseling Center...
  • THE NATURE CONSERVANCY IS HIRING A LOCAL INITIATIVES COORDINATOR
    The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming seeks a Local Initiatives Coordinator to join our team. We're looking for a great communicator to develop, manage and advance...
  • LAND AND WATER PROTECTION MANAGER - NORTHERN ARIZONA
    We're Looking for You: Are you looking for a career to help people and nature? Guided by science, TNC creates innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our...
  • SENIOR CLIMATE CONSERVATION ASSOCIATE
    The Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC) seeks a Senior Climate Conservation Associate (SCCA) to play a key role in major campaigns to protect the lands, waters,...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Southern Nevada Conservancy Board of Directors announces an outstanding opportunity for a creative leader to continue building this organization. SNC proudly supports Nevada's public...
  • CORTEZ COLORADO LOT FOR SALE
    Historic tree-lined Montezuma Ave. Zoned Neighborhood Business. Build your dream house or business right in the heart of town. $74,000. Southwest Realty
  • ENVIRONMENTAL AND CONSTRUCTION GEOPHYSICS
    - We find groundwater, buried debris and assist with new construction projects for a fraction of drilling costs.
  • STRAWBALE HOME BESIDE MONTEZUMA WELL NAT'L MONUMENT
    Straw Bale Home beside Montezuma Well National Monument. Our property looks out at Arizona fabled Mogollon Rim and is a short walk to perennial Beaver...
  • ATTORNEY AD
    Criminal Defense, Code Enforcement, Water Rights, Mental Health Defense, Resentencing.
  • LUNATEC HYDRATION SPRAY BOTTLE
    A must for campers and outdoor enthusiasts. Cools, cleans and hydrates with mist, stream and shower patterns. Hundreds of uses.
  • LUNATEC ODOR-FREE DISHCLOTHS
    are a must try. They stay odor-free, dry fast, are durable and don't require machine washing. Try today.
  • PROFESSIONAL GIS SERVICES
    Custom Geospatial Solutions is available for all of your GIS needs. Affordable, flexible and accurate data visualization and analysis for any sized project.
  • A CHILDREN'S BOOK FOR THE CLIMATE CRISIS!!
    "Goodnight Fossil Fuels!" is a an engaging, beautiful, factual and somewhat silly picture book by a climate scientist and a climate artist, both based in...