Trips: Oh Felicia! Teton Spring 2019

In the early spring of 2019 Felicia emerged from her den below the Continental Divide with two cubs. Unfortunately, she quickly lost one to a boar. Felica and her suriviving cub, Pepper, were often seen near the highway that crosses the divide. But another misfortune struck: Pepper became separated from her mom when another boar gave chase. For more than a month Pepper lived alone, somehow surviving against all odds, and even learning to kill her first rodents to help stay alive. There was little hope that Pepper could survive. But she did and then, a miracle, they reunited. During the summer, the two were seen periodically, grazing, nursing and exploring, and as fall's snow began to fall they were seen headed to their den. Sadly, when winter finally gave way, only Felicia emerged from the den. In her short year, Pepper captured a lot of hearts with her pluck and spirit. Here are some of my favorite photos of my time with Felicia and Pepper.

Only a few days out of her den, Felicia strides across across a nearby ridge.

Only a few days out of her den, Felicia strides across across a nearby ridge.

Felicia stops her efforts to find food to nurse Pepper, her lone surviving cub.  Her other cub was lost not long ago to a marauding...

Felicia stops her efforts to find food to nurse Pepper, her lone surviving cub. Her other cub was lost not long ago to a marauding boar, one of the most dangerous threats to cub survival.

Wait for me, Mom!

Wait for me, Mom!

Felicia charges down a hillside.

Felicia charges down a hillside.

Felicia and Pepper enjoy some playtime.

Felicia and Pepper enjoy some playtime.

With a slight wag of her tongue, Pepper walks alongside Pepper.

With a slight wag of her tongue, Pepper walks alongside Pepper.

Family Portrait: Felicia and Pepper in perfect synchronicity.   Numerous sows, like Felicia, raise their young surprisingly close...

Family Portrait: Felicia and Pepper in perfect synchronicity. Numerous sows, like Felicia, raise their young surprisingly close to highways, perhaps because they know that the boars are less likely to be near there. Felicia and Pepper spend a scary amount of time near this roadway. But it has protected her surviving cub it seems.

Portrait of a Grizzly:  Felicia

Portrait of a Grizzly: Felicia

Felicia is a large, imposing and powerful grizzly.

Felicia is a large, imposing and powerful grizzly.

Early spring is a time for grizzly bears to find tender shoots, roots and maybe some rodents.   Felicia spends nearly all her...

Early spring is a time for grizzly bears to find tender shoots, roots and maybe some rodents. Felicia spends nearly all her time searching for food as her young cub Pepper learns quickly learns to step exactly as her big mom does.

Grizzly Felicia and her cub Pepper walk in synchronized unison.

Grizzly Felicia and her cub Pepper walk in synchronized unison.

The Grand Tetons rise in the background as Pepper and Felicia stride to greener meadows below.

The Grand Tetons rise in the background as Pepper and Felicia stride to greener meadows below.

Felicia casts a wary eye below.

Felicia casts a wary eye below.

Felicia and Pepper cruise across a narrow ledge where winter's snow has melted.

Felicia and Pepper cruise across a narrow ledge where winter's snow has melted.

Felicia and Pepper walk across a snowy mountain ridge.

Felicia and Pepper walk across a snowy mountain ridge.

The calendar says May but there is still a lot of snow on these mountain ridges as Felicia and Pepper look for easier terrain...

The calendar says May but there is still a lot of snow on these mountain ridges as Felicia and Pepper look for easier terrain.

Felicia is more powerful but Pepper is lighter and that can be an advantage in the soft snow.

Felicia is more powerful but Pepper is lighter and that can be an advantage in the soft snow.

Felicia and Pepper slowly pick their way across this snowy mountain as yet more clouds and snow begin to blow.

Felicia and Pepper slowly pick their way across this snowy mountain as yet more clouds and snow begin to blow.

With immense claws and power, grizzly Pepper plows through the snow, as her cub Pepper rallies from behind.

With immense claws and power, grizzly Pepper plows through the snow, as her cub Pepper rallies from behind.

On the hunt, Felicia stalks for food.

On the hunt, Felicia stalks for food.

Grizzly bears Felicia and Pepper search for roots and rodents in this freshly melted meadow.

Grizzly bears Felicia and Pepper search for roots and rodents in this freshly melted meadow.

Pepper runs to her mom's side as Felicia casts a wary eye and nose to potential danger below.  Though their eyesight is not great...

Pepper runs to her mom's side as Felicia casts a wary eye and nose to potential danger below. Though their eyesight is not great, Grizzly bears have exceptional smell that can alert them to danger - or possible food - miles away.

Felicia encourages Pepper that it is time to make a getaway.

Felicia encourages Pepper that it is time to make a getaway.

Pepper is a beautiful grizzly bear cub with a distinctive white sash or blaze.  Here she practices her earliest dance moves.

Pepper is a beautiful grizzly bear cub with a distinctive white sash or blaze. Here she practices her earliest dance moves.

A Sense of Perspective.  Pepper keeps a lookout while Felicia digs for roots.

A Sense of Perspective. Pepper keeps a lookout while Felicia digs for roots.

Felicia descends a mountain hillside.

Felicia descends a mountain hillside.

Felicia and Pepper prepare to retire for the evening.

Felicia and Pepper prepare to retire for the evening.

Pepper reaches for a kiss from Mom, as Felicia looks to make sure they are safe.

Pepper reaches for a kiss from Mom, as Felicia looks to make sure they are safe.

Pepper tells mom about her exciting day on the mountain day.

Pepper tells mom about her exciting day on the mountain day.

Grizzly Tenderness.  Felicia gives some tender loving to her cub, Felicia.

Grizzly Tenderness. Felicia gives some tender loving to her cub, Felicia.

Felicia nurses her cub Pepper as she displays her massive feet and claws.

Felicia nurses her cub Pepper as she displays her massive feet and claws.

The clouds have brought more snow as Felicia looks down from her mountain slope.

The clouds have brought more snow as Felicia looks down from her mountain slope.

Felicia looks back to see why Pepper is not following more closely as falling snow sticks to her face.

Felicia looks back to see why Pepper is not following more closely as falling snow sticks to her face.

Felicia and Pepper make their way through the falling snow.

Felicia and Pepper make their way through the falling snow.

Felicia woofs a warning from her snowy ledge.

Felicia woofs a warning from her snowy ledge.

Felicia and Pepper prepare for another day in the snow.

Felicia and Pepper prepare for another day in the snow.