Took hundreds of photos today of this remarkable animal.
As I wrote in my book: I am helplessly in love with elephant seals. I never tire of watching their antics, which range from those of an affable dog to a curmudgeonly grandfather to a boastful prizefighter. They sound constantly annoyed with their barks and yells, yet enjoy cuddling together while napping on the beach. For some people their incomplete elephant’s trunk of a nose is a barrier to admiration, but I find it ridiculously cute-ugly. Jacques Cousteau, in his 1974 book Diving Companions, wrote about his affinity for the creature: “At the beginning, the animal seemed unattractive, even repulsive….Yet, we ended by experiencing a real sympathy for these giants who are the victims of their own size. We discovered their virtues, their courage and tenderness, and love of freedom."
While I kneeled down to take a photo of the second bear scat pile I had discovered about 20 feet from the first, I thought “cool, I wonder if the bear is still around.” I received an answer very quickly!
I looked up to see a beautiful, wild black bear gazing at me. What an incredible encounter-just the two of us, high on the Kuna Crest, and miles from a trail and other people. He considered me for a time, then bounded up the rocks and away. I stood there so full of joy and gratitude for his visit.
Encounters with wild things are the most profound moments of my life. As one of my favorite writers, Craig Childs, said “..Times that I have seen animals have been like knife cuts in fabric. Through these stabs I could see a second world ...”
As part of our scouting hikes retracing P-22's likely route from the Santa Monica Mountains to Griffith Park for P-22 Day & Urban Wildlife Week October 16-22, we traversed the park from west to east with the help of our wonderful guides, Gerry Hans and Mary Button, founders of Friends of Griffith Park. Although it's a relatively short trek, it's a strenuous one. Yet we were well rewarded for our efforts with a really cool urban wildlife sighting--a red-tailed hawk perched on the Hollywood sign. I guess even the raptors are trying to duplicate mountain lion P-22's famous shot....