"For two days in the Idaho mountains, Chase’s cameras had been rolling virtually non-stop. Now, with his companions lagging behind, he started down the trail, which descended steeply into an alpine meadow. As he accelerated, he noticed, to his left, an elk galloping toward him from the ridge. He glanced at the trail, looked again to his left, and saw a herd, maybe thirty elk, running at full tilt alongside his bike, like a pod of dolphins chasing a boat. After a moment, they rumbled past him and crossed the trail, neither he nor the elk slowing, dust kicking up and glowing in the early-evening sun, amid a thundering of hooves. It was a magical sight. The light was perfect. And, as usual, Chase was wearing two GoPros. Here was his money shot—the stuff of TV ads and real bucks...
Once the herd was gone, it was as though it’d never been there at all—Sasquatch, E.T., yeti. Pics or it didn’t happen. Still, one doesn’t often find oneself swept up in a stampede of wild animals. Might as well hope to wingsuit through a triple rainbow. So you’d think that, cameras or not, he’d remember the moment with some fondness. But no. “It was hell,” Chase says now."
A few months ago I was crossing Stoneman Bridge in Yosemite Valley when I saw the light of a passing car reflect off of some animal's eyes along the Merced river. A minute later I heard some splashing and looked down to see a raccoon swimming after fish. I don't think it caught any but I was pretty excited to watch it actually perform like a wild animal unaware of the nearby Camp Curry Pizza Deck and numerous visitors who would be happy to share their dinners for a good photo-op. Before bed that night I sketched out what I remembered and over the course of the following months I have slowly finished a painting.
It may not have been a heard of elk, a marmot licking a go pro camera, or a whale coming up below my kayak, but it was a rare sight none-the-less, and one I am glad to have documentation of. I love cameras. I love photography, but in that moment, I am glad I can build a memory on paper, after the fact.