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We’d watched her for two days...her and her two newborn cubs, referred to as COYs (cubs of the year).
They stay close to the road. It’s safer there from the male grizzlies that would kill them if given the chance so that they could then mate with her. Male grizzlies want nothing to do with any humans and the females have learned this over time.
It seemed we might finally be in just the right place at just the right time.
The giant female was slowly grazing up the hill, her cubs safely at play and some distance behind her and to her left.
If she continues her path, she’d eventually crest the hill directly in front of me.
The time, although short, seemed interminable...and then a furry hump, just a bit of it, came into view.
My heart, racing in anticipation, doubled its pace.
She was in no hurry, filling her belly on the soft grasses above the snow.
The shoulders and tips of the ears next.
My heart, pounding, felt as if it was attempting to dig a hole into the still frozen ground.
“Steady...wait for it.”
Through the lens she appeared on top of me...our eyes, souls, meeting. Her face now in full view. The fall grasses blowing gently before her, they too hoping to avoid becoming a meal.
“Hold Steve...just one more...”
Click, click, click...the shutter rattled off a dozen frames and with that I raised, slowly, from my belly, where I had laid in wait for an encounter, a meeting, a bonding I had dreamed of.
Most certainly she was aware of my presence but still calm as could be.
I left her as I found her, grazing peacefully, cubs still frolicking a bit in the distance...my heart...full.