The Day the Buffalo Descended

Last week, about 300 of the buffalo got bored and decided to descend on the Peter Norbeck Visitor Center. This was great because it looked really cool to have that many of the majestic animals standing around the most trafficked area of the park, but those things sure can mess up your day if you work here.

I had a lot planned that day, and part of that involved me hiking Lovers Leap Trail. Upon reaching the end of the mildly strenuous hike in 100-degree weather, I realized it had taken me a lot longer than I thought it was going to, so I was ready for lunch and gallons upon gallons of water. The problem was that there was a chunk of buffalo herd between me and where I needed to go, and because I had no car, the only thing I could do was wait.

So, if you were in the park that day and know what I’m talking about, I was the girl standing on the bridge staring at the buffalo for a good chunk of time because frankly, I was trapped. I could have tried to navigate through the outskirts of the herd, but I feared tourists would see me and think it was OK for them to do that as well – and it’s not. My only other option was to wait it out in the hot sun with no shade until I could make my way up the hill, around the back of the visitor center and back down the other side – successfully skirting the herd.

While it took me an extra 20 minutes, I was finally able to do just that – I navigated the hill and made it around the herd. The only tense moment happened when I was walking through the parking lot and a group of young bulls decided they wanted to cross my path. I just simply stood still while the group came up to the sidewalk, changed their minds, and just stood there looking at me instead.

I inched my way away from them without incident, but it was still a little scary.

And I wasn’t the only one whose schedule was compromised. A few of the park naturalists at the visitor center were trapped inside for a bit because the buffalo wandered onto the patio – a picture I wish I would have gotten.

The buffalo are really cool and it’s always great to see kids’ faces light up when they see them for the first time, but sometimes I just wish they’d move a little faster.

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