One of the most memorable winter backpack/snowshoe trips was in the forests of northern Wisconsin. It was just two of us and we went off trail. After an hour or so we came up over a ridge that overlooked a lake. We noticed a cabin nestled in the pines. Curiosity, coupled with nothing but time, precipitated a closer look. As we approached two dogs began to bark; we gave a sigh of relief to discover they were tethered. As we came up off the ice a woman appeared; we gave a sigh of relief to see her hands free of any type of projectile weaponry! We greeted her calmly and she asked “What are you doing out here?” “Out on a winter camping trip,” we replied. “Don’t you know about the wolves in this area? It’s why we have to tether the dogs.” Feeling slightly naive we responded, “No” then inquired for more details. Eventually we moved on to locate a suitable campsite with some trepidation. We did in fact see ample wolf sign. It was only slightly more comforting to recognize wolf tracks changing direction when they intersected with a deer trail, reminding us that humans would not be a primary food source.
After establishing our campsite in a small clearing we pulled out and sat on our thermarests. In front of us—we enjoyed cheese, onion and crackers on a beautiful sunny winter afternoon with no one around but nature and the wolves. It was an incredible night to boot—after a small fire we slept looking up at the moon and stars listening to the faint howling of our friends off in the distance.