Title: The Accidental Marten
Location & Date: Near Grand Teton National Park | 2015
Camera Set-Up: Nikon D800 w/200-400mm @ 400mm
Shutter Speed: 1/320th
I love hiking. And I love exploring new areas – especially if I know it to be a place that is open to the public, not sensitive wildlife habitat and doesn’t put me in danger of having a dangerous animal encounter. I also think I have a great sense of direction. But last summer, I admittedly got completely lost in a very small, densely forested area outside of Grand Teton National Park. While trying to figure out my way back to the car – and trying to avoid the feeling that I was staring in my very own Blair Witch Project – I heard a red squirrel chirp with alarm. The chirp was quickly followed by a squeal – and then an ongoing, high-pitched scream. I turned around to see a red squirrel speeding around the trunk of a tree, followed closely by an equally fast pine marten. For two minutes, they circled the tree – each crossing my side of the trunk twice in a second, to give you a sense of the speed. I’ve never seen anything like it. The speed. The sound. And the apparent joy of the marten, who I swear had a smile on its face. The action only stopped when I brought my camera to my eyes – bringing both to a cartoon-like halt to stare at their uninvited guest – before resuming the chase. Eventually, the squirrel made a death-defying leap to a neighbouring tree, the marten found its marten buddies and ran into the darkening forest, and I found my way out of the grove in one piece…armed with a grainy, hand-held image and an epic story.