More from Wakusp.

Den watching…

My first full day out on the tundra of Wakusp National Park, and momma bear popped her head out within minutes of us arriving near the den and getting our gear set up. Many of the photographers I was with had become somewhat frustrated with their days of den watching and getting nothing other than the “head shots” that momma had presented, but I was genuinely thrilled and more than a little bit emotional when I first saw that head pop up out of the snow. I literally had chills, and not because of the -28 degree temps (not including a fairly significant windchill), the first time she showed herself that morning and several times following. I will never forget just how large her head looked the first time it popped out of the snow – we were about 100 yards away and it was simply immense…

She was so peaceful in her environment… She would poke her head up, swivelling her head around, nose in the air, sampling the wind in all directions… presumably scanning for a hint of the odor of wolves in the air – the only true threat to her cubs until she reaches the ice out on Hudson’s Bay and the male bears that have spent the winter hunting seals. On our last day, after spending the day with her and her cubs about six miles away from the den, we stopped, walked up to and looked down into the den. I was surprised just how steep and long the entrance was before it slowly curved to the right, obstructing our view. It was at least 6-8 feet deep before the bend, and even though this was an earth den, the first 8 feet of it were all in the drifted snow of the banks of the lake. We had hoped to be able to crawl into the den and see the inside, but the entrance to this particular den was too steep and narrow to allow for any more play – none of us wanted to have to do any extricating in the cold evening 12 miles from camp if one of us got stuck!

Salutations to the Sun (Click to Enlarge)

Another pic from momma and the cubs – this time in the gorgeous evening glow of day three… What a beautiful spot – the end to a perfect day. Shortly after this, as the evening progressed and the light continued to diminish, a group of us began to pack our gear and get ready for the hour and 45 minute trip back to the lodge – after all, she had been laying there peacefully for the best part of an hour and a half or so… What cold possibly change in the last 5 minutes? Oops… She took her kids for a short little walk around the willows and then plopped right back down in the same spot, but this time with both cubs posing beautifully on her back! I kept telling myself that at least I got to witness it, and my camera and its moderate low-light performance probably wouldn’t have done justice to what my eyes had seen anyways. Some day I’ll believe it.. 😉

Evening Glow (Click to Enlarge)

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~ by Kerry Statham on March 13, 2012.

3 Responses to “More from Wakusp.”

  1. Simply wonderful to read Kerry 🙂

    I LOVE the head shot of Mama bear…. it is very peaceful!

    You are so lucky to have experienced this!

  2. Thanks Leah! I am lucky… Two “trips of a lifetime” in just over a year – and the bears cooperated! Thanks for looking in!!
    K

  3. Wow that is too cool!!

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