Skiing over Wolf Tracks


Bad weather doesn’t discourage Aki or prevent us from taking an adventure each weekend day. When the ice or snow make the roads impassible we walk up the Gold Creek drainage toward the old glory hole mine in Perseverance Basin. Today the soft rain drifting onto the Chicken Ridge snow pack won’t keep us from driving. The rain falls from clouds so low they block our view of the mountains, so thick we can’t see Douglas Island across Gasteneau Channel.  Driven more by smells than sights, Aki happy charges through the mist and into the car while I fill the car top carrier with skis.

The temperature climbs to 37 then 39 degrees as we drive North to Eagle River on icy roads. We see few cars on the way so I am not surprised to find the trailhead empty but pleased that a well defined ski track leads into the old growth

L1180980The house’s other resident human skis ahead of me. Aki dashes between us before taking up station behind our leader. With wet packed track we move easily into the forest and then onto a muskeg meadow. At the edge a single file wolf track arcs down onto a small snow cover stream. Someone is still thinning out the local snowshoe hare population.

I think of the almost tame black wolf that hunted our glacial moraine and the time he accompanied Aki and I on a ski to Mendenhall Lake. Seeking canine companionship the wolf would hang around the lake, sometimes playing like a puppy with local dogs.  He would howl over the lake on moonlit nights.  Once we skied to the sound, Aki searching for clues with her nose and me trying to keep down the primal fear that rises when a predator howls.

Someone shot the wolf, not far from where we ski today. The police seized the pelt, as black as the Mendenhall Lake wolf. When it didn’t return to the moraine we knew it was dead. I miss the black wolf and the chance to see it frolicking on the lake but its end was inevitable.  I pray that the creature single tracking this meadow won’t try to bridge the world between his kind and man.


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