‘Once in a lifetime’

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Teacher captures photo of ‘posing’ bear cubs

When a school bus full of Powell fifth-graders recently drove through Chief Joseph Pass, two bear cubs paused to watch, resting their paws on the guardrail.

Southside Elementary School teacher Michelle Giltner captured the moment on camera and shared the photo online, where it became something of a social media sensation.

Giltner took the image last month during Southside’s fifth-grade camp-out. The group had just finished the day in Yellowstone, hiking in the Lamar Valley.

“I was sitting in the front of the bus and had to plead with the bus driver to open the door so I could get some decent pictures without it being through the windshield,” she said.

She stepped out of the bus and then leaned around the front bumper to capture the image. For kids and adults alike, it was a thrilling moment to see the two cubs.

“The kids were AMAZED!” Giltner wrote in an email to the Tribune. “Most have never seen a real bear out in the wild. Unfortunately, some think that they will see a bear every time. All the adults know that seeing two bear cubs like this only happens once in a lifetime.”

After returning home, Giltner posted the unique image on the Wyoming Through the Lens group on Facebook. She had never posted an image on the site.

“When I uploaded the picture, I had no idea the amount of buzz it was going to create,” she said.

The night she posted it, her phone kept buzzing as people liked the image, commented on it and shared it with their friends.

“When I looked in the morning, I was shocked to see it hit 1,000 [likes]. Now that it is over 2,400, I am just shocked to say the least,” Giltner said.

People had fun coming up with captions for the image. Some people invented dialogue for what the two cubs might have been thinking, like this possibility from Robby Smith:

“Well, Fred, guess it’s that time of year again.”

“Yeah, George, hope they don’t try take us home with ’em.”

Someone even created a meme out of the picture, Giltner said.

“It truly was about being at the right place at the right time with a camera!” she said.

Giltner appreciates how rare her image is.

“I have a deep love for photography. I could go to Yellowstone all summer and probably never get as lucky as I did that afternoon seeing those bears posing the way they did,” she said.

She’s also thankful to have shared the moment with others.

“When you take 57 fifth-graders and 20 adults on a fifth-grade camp-out, you try really hard to create lasting memories for everyone,” Giltner said. “I am so glad that those kids will also remember seeing those two bear cubs along the road.”

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