One of the real pleasures of visiting Banff National Park in the fall time period is the simple fact that all the berry bushes are alongside the roadway....since the forests are too dense for them to get enough light.
Couple that with a sizable population of grizzlies in search of berries prior to hibernation, and there's a good chance to have a bear encounter right alongside your rental car.
I had left our rented cabin just before dawn and there was a gentle rain and a quiet road ahead of me as I headed up toward Moraine Lake. As I turned the corner, I saw this big fellow about ten feet ahead of me on the right side of the roadway. There wasn't another soul around. I slowed down as I continued to drive closer....and he looked up to me for a second and then continued to gorge himself on berries.
My hands were shaking as I rolled down the passenger window and began shooting with my right hand while my left hand gripped the steering wheel.
I had one foot on the brake and one foot on the accelerator and I found it extremely hard to focus with the one hand holding the Nikon DSLR as the adrenalin surged through my veins.
Just then another car drove up behind me and this magnificent animal raised his head for the briefest moment to see what was causing the noise. I snapped this shot and focused with all my might at getting the focal point right on his eye.
It was truly a moment to remember. Equal parts elation and fear. And even though he never made a movement toward me, I remember thinking that this was a hungry carnivore and I was too darn close...
Too darn close.