I can feel the adrenaline surge as the anticipation builds. Through the trees I see the unmistakeable moving shape of a bear as it ambles along. I try to peer around trees and thick shrubs while guessing which direction the bear might go. I find an opening just when the bear looks up in my direction. I fire off a bunch of shots and then he disappears in the trees again. I follow the dark shadow as he moves through the forest hoping for another opportunity.
Suddenly the bear is spooked and races up the steep hill toward my vehicle at an alarming speed, crosses the road and runs up part way up the hill on the opposite side. It’s a grizzly!
The lady renting our cabin told us two orphaned grizzlies were in the area. I had read about their mother being killed by a train last year and the pleasant surprise that both cubs emerged after winter. Recently one cub had been limping and when they caught it to put on a radio transmitter they discovered the reason. They pulled out 41 porcupine quills from one foot. A mother might have taught the cub some creatures weren’t worth swatting!
While still musing at the lightning speed of the bear, I realized this had been accomplished on three legs. I had found the orphan!
The cub settled in on the unlikely perch near the top of a hill, putting his head down on his paws acting very much like a young animal. Occasionally he would look up but mostly stayed settled. When the sound of a train echoed through the forest, the cub looked agitated and peered anxiously around. It must have brought back memories of his mother being killed.
It was truly a thrill to share the company of this incredible creature. Hopefully it survives in the sometimes unforgiving world of Banff National Park.