The second day of Spring and Sunday afternoon. The wind blows strong and the temperature is 30 degrees. The snow lays 30 inches deep in the timber. Lake ice is 24 inches thick. That doesn’t sound much like spring in Lee County does it?
Snow fall till now about 115 inches but settled to 30 inches in the timber. Three cold spells of about a week each. January with 6 days averaging more than -20 below. February with a week averaging -34 below and then March with 6 days averaging a cool -37 below. The low for the winter was -49 below. April can have some below zero weather too. I have seen it -20 below on the 20th of April. But what is cold when the sun is high and lots of day light. One good thing about this Twin Lakes valley is that it is nearly always dead calm when it is -20 below or colder.
It has been an easy winter for the wild animals. Cold and dry is fine weather for sheep on the mountains. Enough wind up there to blow the snow into the canyons. Moose had it easy for the snow is not crusted even a little bit.
The Wolf Story
Let me tell you a wolf story. Wolves grow to be pretty big up here. A big skin nose to tip of tail can be more than 8 feet and the record for weight is 175 lbs. A 100 lb. wolf is considered a big wolf. They run in packs and in mid-January a pack of 17 came to this lake for a few days. They killed and cleaned up a cow moose on the lake ice about a mile from here. The pack howled and can you imagine 17 big dogs howling and the loud echo here among the mountains? Ten or twelve big ravens (like a crow only larger) joined the wolves for the big feast. Ravens right in among the wolves feeding on the kill. The first big meal saw about three-fourths of the moose eaten. I went to see who died and the pack left the kill as I crossed the lake. It was getting dark and they acted as if they were not sure who had taken over the kill. Four big wolves came to find out. One a big grey wolf came 200 yards or less before he was satisfied and went back. If I had been a wolverine or a bear I think the pack might have contested my right to their kill. They cleaned up the moose and headed down country. The Park Service plane came and learned of them. For days the pilot flew and checked to see if they killed more. They did kill another cow in a couple of days. Then they surrounded a cow and let her go free which a pack will do sometimes. More encounters with moose but no kills. Then a kill on Lake Clark about 30 miles from here. One month to the day and at night they made tracks here near my place. Scouted this lake and made no kill. Next I heard of them they were seen on a big lake nearly 100 miles from here. A village there and they were seen out on the snow covered lake. Four snow mobiles raced out and when it was all over 9 wolves were dead. The 17 pack sure made nice music but it was costing a lot of moose. That’s my wolf story for this winter.
Read more of Richard Proenneke's adventures in the Journals of Richard L Proenneke! The 5 Journals cover more than 30 years of Richard's life at Twin Lakes, Alaska
THE EARLY YEARS - from 1967 - 1973
MORE READINGS FROM ONE MAN'S WILDERNESS - from 1974 - 1980
A LIFE IN FULL STRIDE - 1981 - 1985
YOUR LIFE HERE IS AN INSPIRATION from 1986 - 1991
REACHING THE END OF THE TRAIL
from 1992 - 2000