Clambering down a steep slope through aspen and pine, a frozen lake is groaning and cracking as it starts to melt next to us. The sun is low, throwing a beautiful northern warm soft light over everything.
As we descend we call out ' hey bear, it's us bear'. Bears are petrified of other bears and reassured that were only humans.
This is Lilly, a 3 yr old, first time mum with a new cub. Today was the first day she had brought her new infant 'hope' out of the den and my first day trying to film bears.
We found them lieing under a fallen tree, hope was asleep and Lilly was keeping a very close eye on her and us.
I was down first, so took some pecans ( i tried to remember my lessons and tried to control my fear) i went to make peace. I approached cautiously as no one had seen Lilly for a year and she had a young cub, I kept talking to her and threw some nuts. Her long long Tongue snaked out and Hoovered them up. I threw some more and moved closer.
Continuing to chat away and let her know what I was doing I gradually eased myself to within about 3 metres and settled down with the camera.
It felt extraordinary to be that close to a large wild carnivore with young ! She soon decided I wasn't really a threat and turned her attention to hope who was now suckling and lieing on Lilly's tummy.
We managed to get some lovely shots of these two together, suckling grooming and playing . I gadualy eased myself nearer and nearer until I was under a metre away and could smell hopes ' spaniel puppy aroma'.
Although hope had been brought out of the den worryingly early, she was a fighter, letting her mum know in very strident, loud terms that it was milk she wanted and milk she was going to get.
After an hour or so, with the sun about to dip behind the lake, lilly moved away with hope. I followed at a distance and filmed hope struggling over a branch as lilly walked off out of my vision ..... BWAAARRR lilly mock charges me from my blind side, I fill my trousers and retreat.
Bears are very very gentle, trusting animals, but don't push