This is a story from my first trip to Kyuquot Sound in 2010; I wrote it in my journal but I never posted it here. Not sure why; maybe because I lost my camera overboard on the trip or maybe because the woods kicked my ass. (Because of the lack of photos, for this post I’ve tried to recreate some images from my trip by using my non-existent art skills for your viewing pleasure.)
I was in the remote Kyuquot Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island. I landed on the calm side of Rugged Point on a small protected beach and the first thing I noticed was two sets of canine tracks in the sand. Fresh and big, almost the width of my hand. Too big for coyote, plus coyotes aren’t found in this area – but wolves are!
I’ve camped in wolf territory before and wasn’t that concerned at first. I once had a wolf wander through my campsite in Yellowstone. So I set my tent up on the beach over the tracks.
I became a little more nervous after I went to the other beach just one hundred yards away and it looked like a dog park, wolf tracks everywhere. So once I got back to my tent I started thinking about camp perimeters, defensible positions and immediately searched for a weapon. I was obviously a little spooked. I have no problem with bears and have seen them often in the backcountry but I’m not as familiar with wolves. Plus there is something about wolves; bears eat honey and put out forest fires. Wolves eat Little Red Riding Hood and grandmothers.
I found a thick piece of driftwood 3 feet long with the weight of a Louisville Slugger. It had a large knot and barb on one end; A backwoods mace. I dubbed it ‘Wolfstick’ and it didn’t leave my side for the next two nights.
With heightened alertness, I finished setting up camp and made dinner. The campfire was raging as twilight set in. When I said I have no problem in the woods alone with large carnivores afoot, I have to admit that sometimes, on the first night, I can still be a little sketched out. As darkness crept in and after a few nips of Jameson whisky, paranoia started to infiltrate my mind.
Shadows in the woods, odd noises in the dark, beasts lurking, skulking, hunting. Then a disturbing thought crossed my mind; what would I do if I saw a pack of wolves charging down the beach at me. This scenario seemed not only possible, but in my semi-inebriated state, entirely logical and inevitable.
So I ran through my options:
As the wolves bear down I would jump up on the massive tree stump on the edge of camp. Thick underbrush surround 3 sides of the stump meaning the assault could only come from one direction, the East. Standing tall on the stump and as wolves launch themselves at me, I would bat them out of the air with Wolfstick. Facing overwhelming odds I would be like freakin’ John Wayne as Davy Crockett in my favorite childhood movie, The Alamo. Sounded good in theory but we all know how that ended for Davy.
I could grab the kayak, drag it to the shore and launch into the water and safety before the blitzkrieging wolves got me. H and I have successfully used this tactic before to evade a large brown bear in Alaska, (but that’s another story.) Clearly the chance of this plan succeeding with wolves was zero. Unlike the British at Dunkirk the wolves would be on me before I could get anywhere near the water.
I could basically make a run for it. The rickety wooden outhouse was under a hundred yards away down a path. I could make it if I was running for my life, which clearly, I was and I could barricade myself in the stinky, fly-infested outhouse. John freakin’ Wayne never had to barricade himself in an outhouse, but it looked like my best chance of survival.
On the second and third day I calmed down. I wandered the beaches and overgrown trails through the woods. I went for a long walk to a stream for water. I wasn’t now worried about an immediate attack but was still acutely aware of my surroundings and Wolfstick was always close by.
During my six day tour of Kyuquot Sound, I never did see a single wolf.