Wednesday, February 12, 2014

VIRGINIA: SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK AND A BEAR SIGHTING

Skyline Drive is a scenic road through Virginia's Shenandoah National Park. The Blue Ridge Mountains are on one side of the road, and the Shenandoah Valley and River are on the other. Traffic was very light the morning we were there, and the ranger at the entrance, in response to Bob's hopeful query, told us that yes, a bear had been spotted just yesterday in one of the trees alongside the road. Bob's Bear Radar went into full gear as we started our excursion along the twisting pavement.




It was a crisp late autumn morning, and the glowing red of the leaves seemed almost out of place in contrast to the biting cold:


The light of the rising sun illuminated and painted the frosty scenery:

. . . including this black bear, perched, bird-like, unbelievably high up in a leafless tree, silhouetted against a brilliant blue sky and just above the fiery autumn foliage.
Triumphant, Bob hit the brakes, and for the next hour we admired this feller's balance, agility, and grace while he totally ignored us and the others who had pulled over to see why the man had his camera pointed skyward:
From the ground below the tree, we couldn't figure out what Mr. Bear was doing up there, but when we brought our pictures home and zoomed in, we could see that he was eating what looked like berries in those branches. It was a thrill to be able to watch a bear in the wild, even though our car thermometer told us it was 30° and it took Bob forever to get all the photos he wanted.
Bob took at least a hundred pictures. I've never been so grateful for our digital cameras and zoom lenses. I remember well the days of 35 mm film cameras. I recall one trip when Bob took roll after roll of moose pictures that cost plenty to develop, only to discover that in most of the photos the moose showed up as just a speck in a distant field.  Photography is a lot more fun when taking 100 shots doesn't cost any more than one shot!  

After an hour, I was thoroughly frozen, Bob accepted the fact that the bear was content to stay where he was, and we finally got back on the road and headed towards our next destination: Monticello.

3 comments:

  1. One of life's great moments: I've been wanting a bear picture for many years. What's a little cold when life has handed you a wish on a silver platter.

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  2. Those are great bear pictures. I've never seen a bear that high up in a tree. Amazing!

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  3. It's hard to believe that skeletal tree can support the weight of that bear. But it is winter, and the bear's probably a little underweight. Glad it was a pivotal moment for Bob. Dave gets excited by wildlife, too, and we have had multiple pictures of this, that, or the other. Good point about our luxury of digital photography these days!

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