The dreary early morning weather gradually cleared. Dave, Daisy and I made our way out. This had become the most comfortable arrangement, with Kent, George, Ken and Kerry following a different routine. My group headed out towards the Middle River to look for Melissa and Scrappy for our last day of shooting. As we hiked along the trail the sun began to warm the meadows around us. Steam rose from the creeks and bogs as we continued along the trail. It would be sunny today. Melissa and her cub were found, predictably, at the bend in the river.
I have never seen Scrappy so wild and playful! Melissa, all business and looking for fish in the river, had left her cub to entertain himself. And that he did. For me this was the most interesting bear behaviour I had ever seen and photographed. We spent hours watching as this cub, alpha male to be (or wannabe?) busied himself picking up sticks and viciously swinging them around and throwing them in the river, then pouncing on them with all his might. His ears were laid flat against his head as he attacked his ‘prey’ and destroyed it. When he lost interest in that he began stalking his mother. Again ears flat and head lowered to the water, he crept up behind Melissa and then leaped onto her hind legs to attack her. At first she just acted mildly annoyed with this disruption in her fishing work, but finally she decided to engage his playful efforts. There is nothing so touching to see as the gentle giant mother bear play-sparring with her adolescent cub. His arms were flailing like a wild Ninja as he took full advantage of his mother’s attention.
Finally they tired and prepared to rest on the river bank. I had been keeping accurate notice of the height of the tide, as I knew from the moment it would begin to rise we would not have much time to get back across three rivers. The shooting with Melissa was so good that we pushed it too the absolute max, and when we left to forge the first river I was running. As the only member of our group with waist waders (the others had chest waders), I was the most vulnerable.
Arriving at the first river the water was only three inches below the top of my waders! As fast as possible I raced to the second river and my heart was pounding as the water was even higher. Now between rivers and nowhere to go but forward I dashed into the third river, doing everything to keep my camera gear above water. I crossed on my tip toes and about halfway across I could feel the water start to go over my waistband and down my legs. The thought of my waders filling with water and sinking me with all my equipment forced me into another gear. I leaped up onto the final shore, soggy but not fully drenched! It was a very close call! I turned quickly to take this shot of Dave and Daisy on their last river crossing.