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Just chill out and watch the elk. You re not getting through traffic anyhow.
Just chill out and watch the elk. You re not getting through traffic anyhow.

If you want to squeeze the last fall sendage out of Chaos Canyon, or get one last snow-free mega hike or run in somewhere in Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ll have to deal with the glut of the rut.

The glut of traffic out for the elk rut, that is. (Why is the majestic bull elk so intriguing, the bugle so beguiling?!? Let’s all stop and take pictures and video and get way too close to the giant wild animals with sharp antlers to find out.)

Stuck in the rut? Here are five suggestions for dealing:

1. Play games

Resurrect the road-trip games of your childhood — especially the ones you were really good at, that your brother totally sucked at. Because if you’re going to play games, you want to be better than your friends.

Examples: I Spy. Twenty questions. Throwing spitballs into dad’s hair. You can try this on the elk if you get stupidly close.

Or just plug into your iPod, close your eyes and ignore your boon companions, the traffic, the fall color and the glorious sound of the elk bugle, you loner sociopath.

2. Train

If you went to the park for bouldering and end up in elk traffic, pull over and do push-ups.

If you went to the park for trail running and end up in traffic, pull over and do squats and sprints.

If you went to the park to see the elk and end up in traffic, don’t pull over. Stop in the middle of the road and stay there. Don’t consider whether the people in the car behind you have seen elk in rut before (millions!) and prefer not to stop with you. Make sure there’s no room to pass. Take lots of pictures.

This might not seem like training, but trust me, you’ll know exactly what to do the next time you see a bear.

3. Disperse the jam

You’re stuck behind elk traffic. It’s not moving. You’re supposed to meet your friends at The Sink in an hour. You imagine your pizza getting cold, your beer getting tepid.

When you’ve been sitting in traffic long enough to get the taste of your favorite Avery’s tepid on your tongue, it’s time to break out the air horn, which clears both people and animals.

(You don’t have one in your glove box for special occasions? Amateur.)

4. Get aggro

One sane and healthy way to deal with an elk-caused traffic jam is to get outrageously angry, tail the car in front of you extremely closely (see how much you can scare your companions!), swear a lot, yell out the window and lay on the horn. Do this all the way down U.S. 36, because there might be elk jams there, too, and surely no one will be going fast enough for you.

The next morning, find a good therapist. You have issues.

5. Smell the roses

There’s nothing you can do about a line of traffic in the park. But you’re in the park — it’s freaking gorgeous there, especially at this time of the year. So chillax and enjoy it. Life goes by pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while…

Crickets? Where’s my air horn?

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