Close Encounters of the Bear Kind

 In Calgary & Area Attractions, Photography, Travel

I’d had ‘one of those weeks’ – filled with a bit of self doubt, a bit of procrastination, and a distinct lack of motivation to accomplish much.  I also knew I needed to scope out a wedding venue for an upcoming shoot.  Decided to combine the mission with some ‘me time’.  On Friday, dropped hubby at the station, stocked up with a Timmy’s XL steeped tea, double double, and hit the road at 7.30am.

Traveled ‘Route 66’ – the Alberta version – highway 66, west of Bragg Creek, into Kananaskis Country – always a favourite.  Hazy warm morning light tinted slightly pink by BC forest fire smoke gave a glow to the already pretty area.

Roadside grazers were common – both domesticated and wild.

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Elbow Falls has always been one of my favourite shooting destinations.  Despite the devastating floods that tore the area apart in 2013, the falls themselves thunder to the rocks below, with spray mist catching light (and rainbows if you’re really fortunate).

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As I descended the path, toying with the new lens and a squirrel playing hide and seek, I experienced the joy of being the only one experiencing the peace and beauty of the morning scenery – birds chirping, chipmunks chattering, and the running water as background music.  That quickly transitioned to heart pounding adrenaline when I discovered I was being watched by a young black bear 15 feet from the path, and realized I was all alone!

The gamut of emotions running through my brain went from, ‘oh wow, a bear, how cute’ (click went the camera), to ‘holy *$@!, a bear, it’s 15 feet away’, over to ‘OMG, it’s a young black bear, there’s a momma around here somewhere, walk away, walk briskly away’.   By that time my imagination ran wild and I was convinced a shadow moved up on the hill behind.  (It could well have been a leaf in the breeze, the missing squirrel, or nothing at all.)  The bear turned the opposite way, and I carried on down the hill walking briskly, but not running, until I made it to the car – only a 100m away!   I think it took my heart about 15 minutes to go back to normal speed.  It was a cross of exhilaration and adrenaline.

My one shot was not as out of focus as I thought it would be.

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Breathing restored, I carried on up the road to Forget Me Not Pond delighted to discover the pond was flat calm, a perfect backdrop for reflections.

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PS – the Dewinton Community Hall is a fabulous venue for a wedding. Even though it took me four hours to get there, it’s only 10 minutes south of Calgary in a beautiful setting, complete with a gazebo and playground.

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Showing 14 comments
  • sueslaght
    Reply

    Extraordinary photos. Play safe out there!

    • SuzanMcEvoy
      Reply

      Thank you! I hear you Sue. The ‘make lots of noise’ and travel in pairs never crossed my mind because I knew I wouldn’t be venturing off extremely popular paths close to car parks. Even my retreat was silent – only the voices in head were screaming lol.

  • Mike Hardisty
    Reply

    Similar thing happened to me but not with bears. That’s a good photograph in the circumstances

    • SuzanMcEvoy
      Reply

      Thanks Mike! And thanks for emailing your bull elephant seal story.

  • Johanna Bradley
    Reply

    Sounds like just the daft kind of thing I’d do, Suzan, but in such an idyllic setting it’s easy to get carried away, isn’t it? Thank you for a superb walk (and such a cute bear 🙂 ) Glad to see that you and Sue Slaught already know each other. Hope your week is going better now? Well- it’s almost over, anyway 🙂

    • SuzanMcEvoy
      Reply

      The week definitely improved after that – now if only I could ditch the rain for the two outdoor festivals I’m shooting this week! As for the ‘daft’ part, it never even crossed my mind because I was at such a popular tourist destination that it must be ‘safe’. 😛 (Lesson learned – I will at least be talking in an out loud voice next time!)

  • Russel Ray Photos
    Reply

    When I go hiking here it’s always the mountain lion that I’m wary of coming across.

    • SuzanMcEvoy
      Reply

      We do have mountain lions here Russel, but sightings are pretty rare. They had one on the trails near the town of Canmore a couple of years ago with a few scary close calls.

  • Amy
    Reply

    Breathtaking view of the pond and mountains! What a capture of the black bear, deer, and horse 🙂

    • SuzanMcEvoy
      Reply

      Thanks Amy. It’s one of my favourite day trips – only 45 minutes away from my front door – and is always stunning!

  • Russel Ray Photos
    Reply

    Those last two would be on my PFH list (print, frame, hang).

    LIKE buttons on your blog still don’t load.

    • Suzan
      Reply

      Thanks Russel. A friend of mine suggested those two would look awesome printed on metal, or metallic paper. I have to agree. Now just have to find a wall. 🙂 (And thanks for the reminder to beat my web designer up.)

  • Dianne Gray
    Reply

    These photos are stunning, Suzan. Stay safe out there! 😉

    • SuzanMcEvoy
      Reply

      Thanks Dianne – and if I ever get a free minute, I’m going to be slamming the blog with a bundle of Alberta scenery – including another bear shot. This one with a car, a field, and a very long lens between me and her. 😀

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