We’ve already shared one image from our encounter with a bull elk and his harem at the start of the 2016 rut and we thought we’d share another. Aside from the unique backdrop, what really stood out for us about this encounter was the ability to observe these animals in a restful state. So often in the mountain parks people get far too close to the large ungulates and it was a true joy to watch these magnificent creatures at peace.
Banff’s grizzly bear 126 was the bear we encountered more than any other – and, wonderfully, we were able to do so frequently with staff from Parks Canada, allowing us to learn more about his family tree. During one early morning drive, he surprised us by popping out from behind a berry bush and giving Simon one chance at a shot – a shot taken while still in motion. It was a good reminder about how small areas – bushes for example – can camouflage or hide an animal, even when you’re carefully looking for them. For this reason, it’s critical that park users obey wildlife crossing signs and speed limits, as well as make ample noise on trails so to avoid surprising a bear, especially during berry season.
We also had some spectacular sunsets this summer. Every night, the clouds and light played off one another to take a scene we’ve enjoyed countless times and make it new again. Often, we had to remind ourselves to wait long after sundown, just in case lingering light would create a brushstroke of pink across the clouds.
And we can’t forget marmots! We discovered two young hoary marmots playing and fighting while hiking at high elevation north of Banff National Park. Luckily, Simon always elects to carry his 1,000,000 lbs camera bag when we hike, so he was able to capture the moment that would have otherwise only been a memory.