In the predawn dark it was a bit crisp to be climbing up into Wilcox Pass with my paintbox. The temperature was three degrees with a stiff breeze off the Columbia Icefield, but snow on the ground made it possible to see. By the time the sun rose, I was set up—freezing. The only thing stiffer than my fingers was my paint.

I was well along with the painting but having a devil of a time pushing the paint when I caught the faintest hint of a sound, so faint that I shrugged it off. Again came the out-of-place whisper of a moan. Raising my ear flap, I listened as a wolf howled somewhere over the ridge.

I dropped my brush to climb the rise and look down into the floor of the pass. Below were a tightly bunched band of five or six rams intent upon a lone wolf. He sat close to the rams, staring at them. Then he howled.

Certainly they had watched him come; caught in the open without any near sanctuary, they just stood there. The wolf howled again, stared for a time, and howled a third time. Then, far off, over in the next ridge, came the howling of the pack. This went on for several back and forths before the wolf stood, turned on his heels, and returned the way he had come.

 

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