People of the North often encounter wildlife against the backdrop of rugged mountains, beside pristine lakes, along roadsides and even in their own backyards. We often see moose, elk, grizzly bear and foxes as we travel. We stop politely for a picture, or not, then quickly move along so as not to habituate the animals to the presence of humans. We also pass by world-class scenery, including the stunning mountain peaks of Kluane, the beauty of turquoise-coloured lakes, or the splendour of a supermoon against the distant mountain peaks.
One December morning, a couple of years ago, I left home around 11 a.m., travelling north on the Haines Highway. The sun was just coming up. The sky was ablaze with colour. Perhaps I was light-deprived. I was mesmerized and could not look away from the spectacle of colour and light. The clouds were cotton candy pink and contrasted with the sky, which displayed the exact shade of turquoise found in the inviting ocean water in the Caribbean. Underneath that canopy of dazzling colour lay the snow-capped peaks of the St. Elias range, which are the tallest coastal mountain range in the world. I took 25 pictures that morning. That sounds like a lot, but I can take 10 pictures before I leave my driveway. The sky was so beautiful. When I reached the treeline, I could see that the sun was just kissing the peaks of the Three Guardsmen mountain, which is often cloaked in cloud. I took two pictures of the Three Guardsmen, then went back to taking pictures of the mountains and sky to the west.
It was at that point that my little dog began to bark. I asked him what the issue was. We were alone. There was no one around for miles, except for the two bull moose standing in the snow to my right. I hadn’t noticed them until just then. One had already lost one side of his antlers. I took pictures of the moose until they moved off.
Later, I downloaded my pictures and glanced through them. The melange of colour was a beautiful reminder of that spellbinding morning. It was a week or so later I was gushing about the spectacle and showing the pictures to a friend. I told the story about the blazing sunrise, the colour of the clouds, the turquoise of the sky and the sun kissing the peaks of the Three Guardsmen.
“Nice Moose,” my friend said.
“What?” I asked.
“There is a moose here beside the tree in the bottom right in this picture.”
I did a double take. Sure enough, there was a moose standing beside a tree looking directly at me while I was looking at the mountain peaks. In the next picture, the moose is looking sideways to his left, perhaps to his partner as if to ask “what is with this guy?” I didn’t see the moose when I took the pictures, nor when I looked at the images the first time. I was too busy enjoying the shots of the sun-kissed Three Guardsmen peaks and the brilliant skyline.
I had been photo-bombed by a moose—twice! Imagine the story the moose had to tell back with his buddies. “There was this guy, taking pictures and didn’t even see me.” Photo-bombed by a moose, twice on the same day. Only in the North.