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Photo by Vincent van Zalinge on Unsplash

Personal story time.

Some years ago I spent a week riding at Bitterroot Ranch in Wyoming (I highly recommend them for riders of all levels. Know how to ride? They’ll challenge you. Don’t? They’ll teach you).

The Encounter

I was riding a horse named Biscuit, because she was, well, Biscuit colored. She was a former rodeo horse who decided she didn’t want to rodeo no more and had developed a fear of cows, but she was a great trail horse.

We were riding along a ridge above a valley and had stopped for a photo op when I felt Biscuit tense up, every single muscle in her body. A moment later, she relaxed.

That was when I saw the wolf.

She was gliding (no other word for it) through the valley below us, something in her mouth. Something that squirmed slightly and was the same color she was.

A cub!

On her own business of moving her babies from one den to another, as wolves do, she seemed oblivious to us.

It was an amazing moment, an encounter with a species who’s cousins live by our fire and have built part of who we are. (Three species on the planet point as a signal: Humans, dogs, and wolves. Chimpanzees do not point unless taught to do so by humans).

Wolves do not look or move like dogs. They certainly shouldn’t be mistaken for coyotes! Coyotes bounce.

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Biscuit! Look at that butt (Photo by author)

Quicksand!

Later, we rode down into the valley. I should mention at this point that we had had some nasty weather, nasty enough that we had to cancel a ride and huddle in our cabins for like 3 hours.

The ground was pretty wet. The wolf had presumably found her new den (I wonder if the old one got too damp).

Our trail led along the side of a small hill. As we rode, the trail went out! Thankfully, it went out under the rear hooves of the guide’s horse and the front hooves of the horse behind.

The guide told us to come through anyway, but be careful.

Somebody asked, “Why can’t we just go down there?” and pointed to the nice level ground five feet below the washed out trail.

“Because it’s quicksand.”

I really wanted to hear that before scrambling across what was now just a slope!

The wild is still there, albeit constrained and put in its place. And right now, in this dark time, I take an odd comfort in knowing there are wolves in Wyoming.

Written by

Freelance writer, freelance editor, novelist and short story writer. Jack of many trades. https://www.jenniferrpovey.com/

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