My favorite lake put up a sign "Warning! Aggressive breeding alligators." I wondered if they were warning people against being eaten or raped.
No wheelchair but the incline reminded me of a steep clay bank on that same lake. With low thousands of dollars of camera equipment I had carefully eased down that muddy bank. One of those subchapters of Murphy's law, you never have quite a long enough lens and I was photographing a wading bird rookery out in the lake. Duckweed is a very tiny little weed looks like a very tiny lily pad. They infest by the billions though and had covered from the lake shore about twenty feet out.
A bit of movement caused me to look down at the two eyes carefully rising out of the duckweed when the ten foot alligator ran out of water about four feet or less from me. Keerr-rap!! The only things between me and the gator are three carbon fiber legs of my tripod, about the same diameter as a shaft out near the tip. I had crowded the front leg into the water getting those few extra inches.
Now what? If I bend down or slip down trying to go up that bank I am toast. I am really helpless because at that range he is about a thousand times faster than I am. His tail would have probably already came around to knock me down and try to break my legs if it wasn't for those tripod legs in his way. He didn't know just how flimsy of cover they were.
A few minutes passed as we tried to stare each other down and I tried to come up with a brilliant idea, even a half-assed idea would be nice at the moment. Finally, the stare down gave me an idea. He is too close for my lens to focus to take a picture but not too close for a stare down. Animals often get uneasy with the big front lens of the Canon lenses staring at them. I reached out and tilted the camera almost straight down, sneaky basset had gained a foot or two on me!
Several minutes or several eternities passed while the camera lens and gator had a stare-down. I was pretty sure it wouldn't be the lens that blinked! Finally the gator started drifting backwards as I kept the lens trained on his eyes best I could. I even got a few shots at six or eight feet. Not great shots, just eyeballs sticking out of duckweed for the memories. He finally submerged. There was still that twenty foot wide blanket of duckweed stretching for over a hundred yards to either side and I had to wonder if the gator would try a side attack since frontal didn't work. After about ten minutes I carefully gathered my gear and very carefully climbed the bank. I didn't draw a deep breath until I was up on the road!