This July we backpacked into Wolf Lake in Yellowstone National Park. Wolf Lake ranks as one of my most special places. Its beauty is wild and calm; the Gibbon River babbles through the meadow here. In a short while, the river’s flow and drop become ferocious. But at Wolf Lake, the world is gentle.
The bugs were wicked, but the chance to spend time in the park and on the water made them bearable. Comfortable in the backcountry now, in a way I never was as a young adult, I can relax and enjoy my surroundings.
Time changes when one backpacks. There is no need to mind the clock, to rush along and be back to the car before dark. Distance is halved; there’s plenty of time to sit by lakes and streams, to watch birds and waterfowl, to contemplate the clouds, and to swim if one chooses. We did choose.
The first time we swam in Wolf Lake, loons and geese came out of nowhere to greet us. I thought this was a coincidence, until it happened every time we got in the water. Loons were nesting in our favorite spot, so we camped farther afield.
Loon voices are varied and magical. Visit this Cornell Lab of Ornithology website to hear them. Here’s our audio file with one of their calls.
In the evenings, we heard another loon call sounding much more like a wolf than a bird.
On the return trip, we stopped at Ice Lake for lunch and a swim. The swans, normally so aloof, started moving toward us the moment we got in the water. So did the loon. (The same or a different one?) Who were these strange water creatures?