Wild Cats & Cameras

Note to self: add camera to “must-pack” gear checklist.

Soft winter sunlight, snow-laden trees, crystal clear blue sky, towering white mountains – and a camera sitting at home. I could have kicked myself yesterday for missing out on some glorious photo ops while skiing.

It could’ve been worse though, like the time we ran into a very excited skier who’d just spent over half an hour photographing a lynx on the trail ahead. We skied up to the area, but didn’t see the cat. I was somewhat grateful, since my camera was once again not in my pack.

We skied up to a lookout, had a bite of lunch and headed back down the quad-burning set of hills – only to see the lynx in the middle of the trail. We threw on the brakes and screeched to a halt. The cat stood in the middle of the trail a few hundred feet ahead.

Unhurried, it sauntered off the trail. We thought that was it, but as we slowly skied past, marvelling at the big round tracks, we looked up in the woods and there it was, not 30 feet away, just sitting on its haunches in the aspen forest, watching us. We kept moving slowly by so as not to disturb it.

If I would have had my camera, I would have snapped a few shots on the way. I think I told myself then to add “camera” to the checklist.

Note to self: add camera to gear checklist NOW!


Early days with the Parks Service; this lynx didn't get away!

How to tell a lynx from a bobcat:

  1. habitat – lynx prefer forested areas, while bobcats are more comfortable in open spaces.
  2. size – lynx are larger with longer legs and bigger feet than bobcats.
  3. ear tufts – both species have black tipped tufts of hair on the ears, but the lynx’s tuft are longer and more easily seen.
  4. tails – although neither wild cat has nearly as long of a tail as the cougar, the bobcat’s tail (about seven inches long) nearly double that of the lynx’s tail (about four inches long). 
  5. coloration – the bobcat is a mottled brown color with faint spotting while lynx are grey in color.

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