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Blustery and gray as it was, changing into dry clothes was our priority, so I didn’t make my customary binocular scan before we called it camp. Then Govi and I both heard a whirring sound. I quickly glassed the basin above us. A peculiar shape caught my eye, far up on a ridge. I watched. It moved ever so slightly. “No,” I thought, “that was just my imagination.” I watched harder, steadying my field glasses on a paddle. Two pinnacle rocks near the shape-shifter clearly moved, and then I could see them running about, sparring and playing. “I think there’s a mama bear and two cubs up there,” I said to Govi. “Then let’s get the hell out of here,” he replied.

I packed promptly before taking another look through the glasses. Clearly, there was a creature perched on the ridge that occasionally shifted its position. Even more clearly, there were two smaller creatures, brown in color, that raced about, playing tag. I thought I saw a tail on one of them. “Wait a minute, those might be wolverines.” But it was too late. This camp was ruined. We got on the water and kept paddling. It was a rather inglorious first-sighting of a wild wolverine, but I’m grateful for it just the same. Add it to the list of first’s for me on this trip: caribou, trumpeter swan, gyrfalcon, the Ipewik River, Arctic wilderness. We’re definitely not in canyon country anymore.

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