Thursday, October 09, 2008

Fellow Travelers

I thought I'd post some more critter photos I've taken in the years since I bought my first digital camera. In all of my camping and backpacking and hiking I've encountered quite a number and variety of Erf's critters. Sometimes they behave and sit relatively still so that I can photograph them.

And sometimes they flee before I can get off a shot, or they move too much so that the photographs are ruined.
One animal that I most regret missing in my attempts to add it to my photo journals was a copperhead snake that I came very close to tramping upon. This was on one of the trails in Hanging Rock State Park here in North Carolina. I'd hiked a very long loop and was on my way back to my vehicle after a hot day of hiking the humid mountains there.

I'd just crossed a wooden foot bridge and happened to look down as I walked and realized that I was about to step on a copperhead lying in the trail.
The thing about this particular snake is that it's colors were extremely vibrant. I'm certain that it had just shed its skin and I was seeing its new countenance in all of its virgin glory. The snake, realizing that I had appeared, quickly sped off, before I could snap a decent photograph. It's one of my regrets as a haphazard photographer.

There have also been many, many birds that I wanted to shoot with the camera, but who did not wish to pause long enough to accommodate my wishes.

Once, when I was alone and had pulled
over on a grassy shoulder on the Blue Ridge Parkway, an enormous turkey came out of the forest and actually poked its head up high enough to look into the cab of my truck where I was sitting. I tell people about this, but no one believes me. He was the largest wild turkey I've ever seen. Of course, by the time I'd nabbed my camera, he'd fled into the woods on the opposites side of the Parkway.

Then there was the bear that I encountered on the Black Mountain Crest Trail one absolutely stunning November afternoon. But he was running away from me far too fast to get a decent shot, and he vanished into those black forests for which the mountains are named before I could even consider getting his picture. The really good critters are moving at a rapid clip, so it's very hard to prove to others that you ever saw them.

But sometimes you get lucky. I'll never forget the bear who grazed alongside the road in Beartown State Park in West Virginia. An actual wild bear outside of a National Park. He was wary of us, but not terribly afraid. As long as we didn't get too close to him, he was content to go about his life and allow us to watch him.

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