Hiking the full lenght of the Tomales Point Trail (listed as 4.7 miles one-way) in Point Reyes National Seashore is something that had been on our list since moving to the Bay Area. This is a beautiful trail that stretches through coastal scrub and grasslands all the way to the the tip of Tomales Point with Tomales Bay on the east side of the peninsula, and the Pacific Ocean on the west. Perhaps the biggest attraction though, is that the trail runs through the Tule Elk Reserve, which hosts a reintroduced herd of tule elk, which now numbers ~440 elk. We attempted it once when we had family in town, but it was raining and fairly miserable, so after we saw a few tule elk far off the trail we decided to turn around only a few miles into it. However, two weekends ago the conditions looked great with a forecast of overcast skies and no rain, so we decided to attempt it again.
As per my usual, we arrived right around sunrise and were the first car in the parking lot, meaning we were the first feet (of the human sort) on the trail. We had to go probably around 2 miles before we saw our first elk, and unfortunately it was at the top of a ridge that just happened to have fog rolling across it. However, we kept going a bit further and made it right into the heart of a herd of ~20 animals. While the females were quite beautiful, it was really the male who kept drawing our eyes -- and the shot of him above is from when he first came over the hillside and into view.
He doesn't look quite as tough though, with his tongue sticking out!