You may remember my fabulous and long-awaited encounter with the Canada lynx last winter? Here is the story behind this series of photos and these moments that I will never forget… (I still get chills just thinking about it!).
Few months ago, I finally decide to head to the heart of the boreal forest in the territory of Eeyou Istchee Baie-James, a place that I have always wanted to explore. I always travel with my van now, it's my adventure vehicle and my "hotel" during my photo trips. It allows me to sleep directly on the spot and still have access to a warm and safe place in the event of an accident. At 6 a.m. on a cold winter day after a long journey of thousands of kilometers, the famous van decides that I only have 10 starts left before officially no longer starting. For those who are familiar with the emission control systems of certain European vans, you know how completely absurd and annoying this function is (the countdown of starts, not the principle of not polluting…. that, I obviously agree). I'll spare the details, but let's say that an 8-hour drive from the nearest dealership, deep in a forest road, generates some anxiety. Conclusion : I have to leave 5 days earlier than planned, with a hundred images of willow ptarmigans at most after having traveled more than 2000 km. Far from what I had in mind as a trip, let's say... especially after only 2 days there.
On the way back, a little disappointed, I decide to take all possible detours to maximize my chances of encountering animals. Accessible dirt roads, villages surrounded by forest, small roads, any potential place, I go. I tell myself that as long as I go back, I will take all the time possible and hope to meet the rich and wild fauna of this region. After all, I have ten starts left, but as long as the ignition is on, no problem. Every track I see, I stop and watch; is it fresh? What animal wlaked here? Do I have any chance of finding it? About fifty stops and detours later, I remain hopeful, but the more the day advances, the less I believe in it and I accept it peacefully.
There are only 45 minutes left in the day, and I continue to observe. At one point, I see tracks on my left that I immediately recognize: Canada Lynx. I will have seen hundreds of them during these thousands of kilometers, but these are fresh, and above all… numerous. I continue to drive for a kilometer before saying to myself: okay I have to go see; I turn around. I analyze the scene a bit and notice that they have first crossed the road, they seem to have rested just at the edge of the forest, they are definitely a few individuals… and as I look up towards the woods, I see of one of the three lynx present. A fraction of a second that I will never forget... but that's not all.
For the second time in my life, I meet the Canada lynx and not one, but three who are looking straight at me; at this moment I forget everything that is happening around me. I feel like I'm dreaming and I can hardly believe it. After all these years, I finally see them in front of me and they are beautiful. At first glance, they are so relaxed and a little curious that I think I see three youngsters. Two are snuggled up against each other, and a third more in the forest and more discreet. I immediately take pictures, thinking that everything would last a few seconds at most, but no. They stay, lying down, almost asleep and again, I can't believe what I'm witnessing.
I come back to my senses a bit and I begin to analyze the situation with more hindsight: it is a mother with a young, and a male who completes the trio, he is the one who is more hidden in the forest. I keep asking myself “But why…why are they standing still?! ". They are such stealthy and difficult animals to observe… The sun is setting and time is running out… darkness is setting in and I can barely see them in the shadows of the boreal forest. Will I have the privilege of seeing them again tomorrow? Maybe not. I drop the camera and sit down in front of them. I can't remember having savored a moment as much as this in my entire life. I stay alongside them until dark, before returning to my van. I slowly recover from my emotions and then I think about the fact that I am on the road, and that I must probably continue my journey towards the city. In my head, I say to myself “okay I only have a few starts left, but to possibly see the family again tomorrow, first hour, that's probably worth two starts less, right? ". Yes, definitely. I park a hundred yards away in a small, safe, public driveway.
I try to relax, fall asleep, but I keep thinking about them. At this time, 7 p.m., they may be lying in the same place, or already miles away, I will know tomorrow. I barely sleep and the alarm rings, it's 5:45 a.m., I get up immediately, put on my warm clothes and start exploring on a path just behind the edge without too many expectations. I had just checked to see if they were in the same location, but no... After an hour of observing old tracks, I come back by the road and pass by the place where I saw them yesterday. There are only about fifty meters left before arriving at my vehicle, a little disappointed, when I see the young one coming out of the forest...
Observing lynx for several hours is a dream, but seeing them two days in a row is unexpected. I settle down slowly, and I let the time pass, watching him in his routine. I take pictures, but much less than the day before. The young lynx then decide to lay down very close, and as sun as the sun rises, it hits that exact spot, which the animal probably knew. The rays reach his fur, a last furtive look and a goodbye wink, he closes his eyes looking at me one last time, and I decide to leave at this precise moment.
Thank you for taking some of your time to read this adventure story, do not hesitate to share your comments with me in the section below. You will also find various links to products that feature photos of this incredible encounter, including my two 2023 calendars, just below. Thank you for everything.
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