Peaceful Power

The Canadian Rocky Mountains

Over the years I have had many people share their cougar experiences with me. Most of the time all you get is a fleeting glimpse; a cougar usually doesn't reveal itself. One story that I envied in particular came from a couple who described seeing a large, tan-coloured animal walk down the middle of the road in the forest outside of Banff National Park, and then sit down on the road's edge. They stopped their vehicle and watched it for several minutes before it got up and headed into the trees. They weren't familiar with what the animal was but there was no doubt in my mind that they had just described my dream encounter with a cougar!

A year later, my dream came true. I had spent just over twenty days in the field, scouting with an expert in an area known for cougars. I had almost given up hope when, on one of the final mornings of the excursion, my binoculars helped me catch sight of a cougar on a ridge. We were near the safety of a vehicle, and only about 80 metres from the cat. It would prove to be a very peaceful encounter with a very powerful animal. I got to photograph it for three to five minutes before it got up and made its way towards us down the ridge and disappeared into the trees. They are well-adapted to maintain secrecy, and I'm sure that I've been in the wilds other times when cougars have been around but have not shown themselves. When I got my film back I noticed the faint spotting of the cougar's hind end, indicating that it was still young, hence a little more curious. It was a rare encounter and one that I won't soon forget. 

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