Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ski Run

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This is back at Alpine Meadows looking south west at some of the dry ski runs. Carole painted her award winner looking 180 degrees behind me. As we were painting I kept hearing this noise in the woods near the empty parking lot maybe 100 yards away. After a little while this guy comes out of the brush and calls his dog to follow him back to the lodge. I'm working out my painting as the sun is rising and some areas are getting more interesting and other areas are getting flooded with light. I hear more rustling in the woods. I look over and I see some cyclists coming up the hill. I'm trying to figure out the foreground as just below the bottom of my painting is a huge flat parking lot. Again I hear the rustling. I continue on the foreground trees and adjusting the values to maintain the depth in the painting. Again the rustling. It's been going on for over an hour now and I can't take it anymore so I stopped and stared into the woods until I see what is making the noises. Nothing. Grrr. I continue to stare and then I hear it again and try to focus in on where the noise is coming from. Again. It sounds like its coming from the big pine tree but what could make such a loud rustling noise way up in a tree. Again with the noise. This time the top of the tree shakes. Holy cow!

I narrow my focus to the limb that I thought was at the center of the ruckus. Then I see it. From behind a large clumping of branches and pine needles this large black butt of a bear appears. My jaw drops. I look at the limb and ask how can it support so much weight. It must be a little cub. It jostles around again and I see it full on the side and it ain't no little cub! It then tears down the branch to the trunk and scurries up the tree another 30 feet or so. I had no idea that they could climb trees let alone fly up them like that. I guess I still have that image from Bonanza of the two bears at the base of a tree waiting for this guy to come down and then they finally wander off. So much with the idea of climbing into a tree to get away from one. By this time I remember to tell Carole to look over at the tree. She doesn't see it at first and then gets her camera and starts to walk over to take pictures. I'm thinking, okay, I just saw it fly up a tree in seconds, I bet it can go even faster on flat ground. Meantime a runner comes into view and is obviously rather tired having run up the mountain and is now slowly running under the bear in the tree that is just 20 feet off the road. Headphones on, oblivious that there is a bear over her head. The bear doesn't care. Same with some cyclists. He finally runs down the tree and runs 15 feet or so and stops. He sits up and stares at Carole and myself. Gulp. We stare back. He finally goes into the brush and disappears. He must have been 300-400 pounds, small for a bear but big enough. I kept wondering where Mom was. So much for the excitement. Back to painting. You got to love painting in plein air!

To see more of my North Tahoe Plein Air paintings and other landscapes, sorry, no bears, please visit my web site; Alfredo Tofanelli Fine Art.

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