Out Among Wolves
My youngest son Jake and I decided on a trip to the Eastern Arizona Highlands where there are the best opportunities for finding solitude.
We drove for close to five hours to the Blue range Primitive area in East Central Arizona near the New Mexican border. This pristine area is familiar to only a few.
This is the area where the Mexican wolves (Lobos) have been released. Lobo restoration has gained considerable public support, however some locals still regard killing wolves as an affirmation of community values. The Lobo is the most endangered wolf in North America.
We arrived at the KP Cienga Campground late in the afternoon in the middle of a thunderstorm, which is common for this time of year. The quaking aspens had already started to turn to their brilliant yellow fall color.
The campground is at 9000 ft. and overlooks beautiful meadows. It was deserted with the exception of one woman that had been there for a week scouting the Elk.
That afternoon we started hearing animal sounds that we had never heard before. At first I thought it was an Elk bugleing; then coyotes. Jake described the noise as a “banshee” sound”. He inquired, “Is that wolves?”
I never expect to see a wolf in the wilderness, they are too wary, but my fondest hope is to someday perhaps hear one. Could this dream have come true? I wasn’t convinced-UNTIL-that night we had dinner at the Hannagan Meadows Lodge and chatted with a wrangler that was familiar with wolves and had heard some that morning. She described the sound as “one that you have never heard before” and it matched our description of what we heard. I was still not convinced.
The following morning I asked the lone camper about the sounds.. “Those were wolves Mr., in fact I watched one of them meander through the meadow the other day. At first I thought it was a coyote, it was so scrawny, but when I looked in the binoculars I knew it was a wolf. It had a radio collar on.”
WE HEARD WOLVES!!!
The next day we enjoyed a great 10 mile round trip hike down KP Creek that dropped steadily for 2500 feet through dense Canadian zone forests of Engelmann Spruce, white fur, Douglas fur and quaking Aspen. We felt a profound sense of remoteness and intimacy on this hike.