Top of…

the food chain.

BT 4-EditIn every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.

John Muir

Some people can go all of their lives and never see a glimpse of these top of the apex predators.

This year I’ve been on a roll, catching my first glimpse from 20 feet away. A chance encounter on foot that fortunately ended well, no cubs to protect or kill to guard. Considering that they’ve been clocked at 30 mph it makes 20 feet feel like a hop, skip, and a jump away.

When we first saw this most perfect of natural track traps laden with grizzly prints set by a layer of frost covering the wet mud, I almost had to remind myself to breathe.

Tracks are rapidly becoming something that I find great joy in photographing. I think in part it’s the transient nature and the luck involved with encountering them at just the right moment. Capturing them, these intimate landscapes, provides a permanent record that places like this still exist.

They tell a story as you follow them ever mindful that the beast that created them has been there and still might be. Interspersed amidst the grizzly tracks were tracks from  black bear, mountain lion, elk, and later on, those of my Staffords.

But soon the wind will blow and the snow will fall, erasing the signs that in the wilderness the wild is never far away.

Stay vigilant and always check your surroundings…

The apex…

of scenting ability.

DSC_0770-3Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Years ago while involved in Search and Rescue I was introduced to tracking by a man named Jim Marshall. He cultivated in me an appreciation for awareness and personal space and the second nature to be always looking for indicators.

Today, one of my greatest joys is to find signs of animals passing through the wilderness and letting my imagination run wild with the back stories.

The discovery pictured above, along with a huge pile of hair laden scat, was heart rate elevating!

I searched for the perfect track to photograph and my mind raced with thoughts.

As a former bloodhound handler and instructor of scent theory, I’m well versed in the abilities of certain animals because of physiological makeup to be scenting machines.

Here I was in close proximity to one of the animals at the apex of this description…the grizzly bear. An animal purported to be able to scent 300 times more than a bloodhound.

This is the beauty of photography. Each time I look at this photograph I will remember the cold, the heightened awareness, the silence, and the joy that we felt when we saw it.

I had hoped to see elusive bear number TEN  of the year but I’m okay with it not being this particular bear.

Was he watching? Very likely.

Was I? Always.

Nature’s magnificence…

and coming back.

DSC_0446-Edit-2-Edit-3I wish that all of nature’s magnificence, the emotion of the land, the living energy of the place could be photographed.

Annie Leibovitz

This week has been a reminder of and an eye-opener to the scars that we bear.

This stand of trees still soars majestically skyward but bore not the brightly colored leaves of autumn, only blackened trunks and open wounds from the Kenow fire that swept through last year.

I find myself listening more and looking beyond the outer shells.

I find myself more willing to speak openly and wonder if that energy is being felt.

I find myself coming back.

Just…

be.

DSC_1848Dream, struggle, create, prevail. Be daring. Be brave. Be loving. Be compassionate. Be strong. Be brilliant. Be beautiful.

Caterina Fake

It’s been a long time since I sat at this desk and it feels really good.

I’m taking time to be.

To enjoy the colors of fall. To inhale the scent of leaves as they change from green to bright red, yellow, and orange.To gaze upon the sunlit waters where the salmon spawn.

But most of all. I’m taking time to just breathe.

 

Another lesson…

learned in nature.

DSC_9254

If it weren’t for the rocks in its bed, the stream would have no song.

Carl Perkins

I think it’s possible to see too much beauty in one day.

I remember studying geology in school and being fascinated by all of the terminology describing the structure of earth and its formation.

This beautiful area of carved rocks and turquoise colored glacial water couldn’t be seen from the road but lay just down a steep path that began a short distance from an otherwise bland roadside pull-off.

I could have spent days here studying and photographing the rock formations but with my propensity for attracting bears it didn’t seem like the best idea to camp here even if it had been permissible.

Learned a new term on this stretch of our travels…rock flour. Finely ground sediment created by the grinding of bedrock by glacier erosion.

This leg of the trip was a great reminder that new paths are carved slowly over time.

Some obstacles are washed away in an instant while others are carved away one layer at a time.

Although the scars that are left behind never completely fade, they do soften and create a new beauty built by strength and endurance.

It’s almost always about the water…

 

Resilience…

in the aftermath.

DSC_0011-2In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.

Aristotle

We were in Waterton National Park last fall and left the day before the park was closed due to a rapidly approaching forest fire that ultimately burned over 47,500 acres.

This summer upon my return I was pleased to see the resilience of nature. Bright bits of green and wildflowers brightened the scarred landscape and all around you could see signs of recovery.

Life is about challenge and waiting for a completely clear path is immobilizing. For every obstacle that is removed another will inevitably take its place.

For me this image is a visual reminder that not everything is permanent and that the quality we need to strive for is resilience.

Adaptation in the face of adversity.

 

 

 

Winter’s simplicity…

a perfect reminder to stay calm and let nature provide the drama.

DSC_5063My heart is tuned to the quietness that the stillness of nature inspires.

Hazrat Inayat Khan

This image is exactly how I like my drama; at the hands of nature.

I’ve been thinking a lot about serenity lately and how important that is to me.

How social media is frequently not that social and how often each day we have the opportunity to be pulled into drama and chaos.

This year I want to be inspired. I want to surround myself with simplicity and the clarity that comes with that.

That goes for relationships too. I want to spend more time connecting with people who share the same values.

If you’re in a space right now that feels like rock bottom take a moment and focus on just one beautiful thing and trust that a change will come.

It will…