Driving along skyline drive in the late afternoon after a full day of high winds and rain, the weather began to clear. The road winds in and around the mountains with sweeping landscapes filled with autumn colored forests and clouds misting over the mountainside.
It was time to return to the Big Meadows Lodge for a social with the hiking group I was traveling with. Running a little late I was trying my best to not get distracted along the way. But then, all of a sudden something big, black and furry was scurrying over the stone wall.
Wait a minute…could it be? Is it possible? YES !! It’s a beautiful black bear that had run off into the forest. Coming to a screeching halt and quickly grabbing my primed and ready-to-go camera with 500mm lens attached, I leaned against the stone wall and found him tucked in the underbrush.
It was tough to focus on him with all the small branches in front of him, so for some crazy reason I thought I could actually see clearly and went onto manual focus and dialed it in. Seems I was off the mark. I would have been better selecting just the single center focus point and set it on one shot focus mode and I would have gotten more in focus images like this first one.
But truly, I didn’t care as I was doing the Happy Bear Dance. In fact, the Happy Bear Dance went on all night. And this was only one of the many highlights of my short trip to the Shenandoah mountains this week.
The American Black Bear is the only bear species found in Shenandoah National Park, and they have found a safe haven within the park. Populations have improved over the past few decades and can number in the several hundred depending on weather and foraging conditions.
Now I’m off to do the Happy Bear Dance again. Still flying on cloud nine with this find.