White wolf, Alaska

A hand on my ankle was shaking me awake. It was early, or late, or maybe I had only been asleep 20 minutes. The light barely changed overnight and the sun barely dipped below the horizon for sunset, turning everything a creepy orange-gray for a few hours.

Michele in a direct but quiet voice, “Wolf.”


This is not our midnight wolf, but it is a wolf I shot earlier that week in Alaska.

I sat up quickly, 80 percent still asleep. I shuffled my bottom to the small opening in the tent and Michele slowly made room for me to poke my head out. I expected to see a wolf in the distance, on the opposite beach from the tidal river in front of our camp.

What I saw was a white wolf directly in front of me, six feet away or less, standing facing me squarely, staring right back at me with amber eyes.


For a moment completely frozen in my memory, every single thing on our beach was still. No crickets, no flies, no birds. Just us. Staring.


And then with nothing else to say or do, the wolf turned and slowly and confidently trotted away down the beach.


I flopped back into the tent, immediately falling back to sleep. My last thought was wondering how many times that week we had been under surveillance from a distance, never knowing we were being watched.

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