Friday, January 30, 2009

Alaska again? Found in the forest around Mendenhall Glacier

Two more things I encountered on the trail from the parking lot to the glacier. First was this mess of ferns and growth that looked ancient - I mean paleolithic ancient. A lot of the forest surrounding the path just had this old feel to it, even though the growth there wasn't all that old considering that less than 100 years before it was covered in ice from the glacier.

The next thing we encountered on the trail was a bit more animated. When we got dropped off by the shuttle there were about a dozen photographers in the group. In the parking lot we all got off the shuttle and a handful of people went to use the facilities. While they were in there the shuttle relocated about a 1/4 mile back across from the trail exit.

Turns out one guy misunderstood the way things were going to happen and he left his gear on the shuttle. A photo hike without your gear makes for a pretty pointless photo hike. So the guide sent him back to the shuttle and told him to head in on the trail via the exit point and eventually he'd catch up with us.

Fast forward to my group walking up the trail. We are casually making our way and I am next in line right after the guide. So she rounds a blind corner with me only a few paces behind her and immediately she freezes. She slowly turns around and says, "You guys are going to get your money's worth in about 10 seconds - everyone slowly step backward until I tell you to stop." So we all do and as we're backpeddling a black bear rounds the corner just plodding along.

He keeps walking up the trail toward us and we keep retreating. I am scrambling trying to change lenses to my 70-200 and eventually I fire off a few frames. They're shaky as hell, and would be no good blown up, but I did manage to get a few shots.

The bear eventually veers off course and leaves the trail heading into the woods. About a minute or two after the bear disappears the guy who left his gear behind starts walking toward us. Turns out he saw the bear a ways up the trail and was effectively flushing him toward us.

Had that guy not left his gear on the shuttle we probably would've never encountered the bear. Of course him pushing the bear toward us and effectively sandwiching the bear between two groups of people was a seriously dumb idea, and the guide wasn't too happy, but it made for a good photo.


Julie Magers Soulen said...

Great story!! Love your bear shot. I too have had bear encounters but all my shots are of butts or too shaky to use. LOL It's so hard to shoot under those circumstances. Well done!

Beholden-To-Nature (Kenna) said...

Wow! Great story, GORGEOUS photos, especially that first one!!!

C. Wade said...

Wow- the first shot is so lush-wonderful!

And I really like the effect of the backlighting from behind the bear- glad you got that lens on in time!