Then a great peace came over me & I seemed to hear the pines and the wind and the rocky shores say to me, 'You, lover of the wild, are part of us.' – Sigurd Olson
Wolf Track on Lark Lake
I thought I was prepared for Wolf Country. I had my snowshoes, my mukluks, my North Face parka, and my backpack full of gear; I’d read hundreds of books on the wolf, the Boundary Waters, and winter excursions but nothing, absolutely nothing prepared me for the sheer size of the wolf track before me in the snow. I bent down, arm outstretched, and held my palm over the print: It was the size of my entire hand, fingers and all, and it went deep into the fresh snow, touching the lake ice that lay beneath. This was no half-starved craven – the wolf who made these tracks was an alpha: Big, confident, and well-fed.
The tracks were fresh, the snow beneath not yet frozen, and as I looked down the lake, where the tracks disappeared into the woods, I wondered if the big grey was there, watching me from the forest’s edge. I lifted my head skyward and howled, my voice quickly subsumed by the echoing silence. Nothing. I howled once more and still no answer. I turned and started back to the cabin with an attitude of, “Oh well, at least I tried.” Then, just as I stepped onto the lakeshore I heard it: The full-throated, bawdy howl of a timber wolf. It filled the silence and coursed through my veins like wildfire. I laughed and wept and said prayers of thanksgiving.
The wolf howled once more and the cry was distant, perhaps miles away now, but it was as clear and unmistakable as it’s message: “The Wild has heard you Julie and you are worthy of reply.”