With both my cameras still out, a great friend let me borrow her 50D so that I could get my fix and actually click a shutter again. It was a tremendous day in terms of wildlife, but the encounter in getting this shot sent chills down my spine.
I was heading north in Grand Teton National Park hoping for a chance encounter with Grizzly Bear #399 after hearing the news that she has three new cubs that were spotted with her on Sunday. Before reaching that area, I came upon a bear jam and found dozens of people watching the grizzly bear that had been nicknamed ‘Blondie’ by one of the rangers grazing about 100 yards from the road. He began making his way down the creek he was grazing near and headed toward the road, eventually disappearing behind a ridge that lined the road.
Roughly 20 minutes had gone by and most of the crowds had gone, except for a few of the more patient photographers itching for a closer shot. I found myself talking to a friendly couple who were spending their anniversary in the park looking for wildlife and had been doing so for roughly 25 years. I was talking to them at their car which was parked at one end of the ridge, while my car was parked back on the other end, roughly 100 yards back.
It had gotten pretty quiet and I got up to head back to my car when they suggested I go up on the top of the ridge to look for ‘Blondie.’ It wasn’t a bad idea. After all a lot of time had passed and he could’ve been anywhere, but at the same time he could’ve been anywhere. Anyone who reads my blog posts regularly knows that I’m a big fan of following your instincts. In this case, they were telling me to go back to my car, but my curiosity had me halfway between the top of the ridge (which wasn’t very high) and the road when the man I was talking to shouted back at me. I turned around and there was ‘Blondie’ standing right above their car at the top of the ridge, just a few dozen yards away from me.
As I slowly backed away, I managed to get a couple of shots of him with the Teton Mountains in the background, as shown here. Really all he wanted was to just cross the road, so his attention was on the ever-increasing cars blocking his path rather than me. He popped in and out for roughly a mile or two before rangers were finally able to successfully block off traffic and let him through. Unfortunately there were a number of people that didn’t care that they were blocking his path and just wanted to get a snapshot of him, refusing to get out of their car and walk a few extra steps. Alas, I was reminded why I can’t get too obsessed with other peoples’ disrespectful behavior.