Wolf encounters are always an incredible experience and can be quite a spiritual moment. While most encounters are from a distance, this one closed within yards. We were sitting on the beach enjoying the day while taking everything in, from the smells, sights, and sounds, to the peaceful and relaxing setting. What a magical place to be—just nature and the wild, nothing else to disturb us—totally disconnected from the hustle and bustle of modern life. There was a slight lull in the bear activity, so we found ourselves scanning the beach with binoculars. After some time, we noticed movement, nothing certain, just occasional quick glances at something moving in the driftwood a good distance away. Not sure what this was, it required an immediate investigation. Out here, it could be anything—a bear, bird, wolf, otter, lynx, or nothing. Who knows? Standing up on a log, we quickly got our confirmation. “A wolf, there is a wolf coming,” I quietly shouted. He was approximately 400 yards away and coming fast when we saw him, but I am sure he knew we were there long before that. We quickly (about .35 seconds) came up with a game plan to give us the best odds of seeing him while he made his rounds along beach.
We decided to move to the crest of a sand berm that we were on so we can see both sides of the dune, in case he took a different route. With cameras and eyes pointed towards our incoming visitor, we quickly sat down and stayed close together. As he approached with tail drooped low (an indication a wolf is very relaxed), I reiterated to our group not to stand, make sudden movements, noises, open zippers, or talk. If anything happens, I will take care of it. Just enjoy the experience. The wolf will decide what it will do.
Well, the wolf had other ideas, he decided to come directly towards us at a trot. Wow, this happened fast—they sure can move! As he approached, all you heard was the tell-tale clicking of camera shutters going at high speed (hope they were water cooled). The closer he got, the clicking slowed, then came the silence. The only sounds now were waves breaking on the beach, an occasional squawk from a gull in the background, and the beating of our hearts emanating from our chests. Eyes peered from behind the lenses as everyone was taking in the moment, seeing the whole picture in its totality. He was too close for the “big” lenses unless you wanted to get a picture of a whisker. It seemed that he was on a mission. Was there a dead critter on the beach and we were close to it? Was it to make sure we were worthy of being there? Was it just pure luck where we sat down? No, the latter wasn’t it. He had purpose to where he was going, a definite reason. He stopped, like a stoic sentinel, head held high just yards from us and stared into our eyes, inspecting us. After all, we are mere visitors in his world and this territory belongs to him and the Kaguyak pack. For all practical purposes, we are strangers, trespassers on their land. We sat motionless in the sand, not making a sound or even breathing, mesmerized by his commanding presence and confidence. We stared back at him, what a handsome wolf, his sleek body, white coat, yellow eyes, huge size and paws. Is this really happening, being approached by such a majestic animal? All of this lasted only seconds but felt like an eternity. Before leaving, he seemed to give us a nod of approval, passing his strict inspection. He then angled slightly away from us, giving himself another couple yards distance and then continued on his way.
As he departed in a trot, we all slowly turned around, watching him glide over the sand with ease. We can finally breathe again. Thank goodness because as I turned to our group, I saw nothing but grins highlighted by oxygen deprived blue faces. Soon the giggling, gasps, and recounting of what we saw and experienced were running rampant. We sat there in awe as the unbelievable experience was burned into our memories for years to come. Nothing could be better, what an adventure and incredible day.