It happened many years ago, but it stays in my memory as clear as if it happened just a few days ago.
In the wilds of Algonquin, I was on my first-ever backcountry trip, on a paddle-in site that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere.
On the very first night of our trip, we had the Algonquin experience every camper wishes will happen. As the fire crackled and warmed our faces, we heard the haunting howls of a wolf pack. Eerie. Haunting. Frightening. Beautiful. We couldn’t believe our fortune to hear the elusive animals.
A short time later, as we snuggled into our sleeping bags and started to drift asleep the howls lifted on the breeze again and the wolf pack serenaded us to sleep. It was terrifying but amazing in the darkness and aloneness of the backcountry campsite. As I fell asleep in my tent, I convinced myself that the pack was very far away, and that the call of the wolves was only so clear because sound carries across the water.
It was a restless night. Unbelievable, frightening and oh-so-real dreams trespassed through my mind. Wolves were at my tent! They were sniffing and snarling! They were using their long snouts and sharp teeth to grab my arms and legs and pull me through the sides of the tent! The dreams carried on through the night, waking me with a start each time. And each time, I would peer wide eyed into the darkness and listen to the rustling sounds of the wilderness just outside my tent. Wolves prowled through my dreams all night long.
The next morning, we made our way down the ridge to our beach, eager to launch canoes and explore the lake surrounding our site. That is when we saw the tracks….. Paw prints mottled the beach. They were big. They were canine. They were everywhere.
We did not have any dogs with us on that trip, and the beach was clear of prints when we landed on the site the day before.
Perhaps my restless night more than 20 years ago was interrupted by more than dreams. Perhaps the wolves of Algonquin were stealthy visitors to my campsite, as well as to my sleep deep in the backcountry of Algonquin Park.