At 2 AM we discover that it is not a wise plan to install a fire alarm directly above a wood stove when it pierces the quiet campground after a small stream of smoke escapes the wood burning stove. We lose our heat as we frantically pull open the cabin door and try to blow the smoke out into the open air. When the fire alarm stops, we crawl back in bed afraid to add any more wood pellets. By morning, our noses are cold but we are warm beneath the heavy blankets. My husband braves the morning air to bring hot coffee from the lodge, and we eventually stir around enough to warm up and cook breakfast outside the cabin.
It is then than one of the crowd notices a lone fisherman wandering up the river in the direction of the kill. A ranger, geared up with a rifle and full protection, is already on the riverbed hammering in a sign warning hikers to not enter the area. When it is determined that the fisherman will encounter the wildlife before anyone else can reach him, the ranger risks his own life to pass by the grizzly and the wolves to warn the fisherman. The crowd watches with growing tension as the ranger pulls his rifle from his scabbard as he walks gingerly past the wolf guarding its kill. The fisherman, still unaware of the impending danger, continues to fly fish and walk towards the wolf and grizzly. When the ranger gets too close to the wolf, the black alpha male runs through the meadow into the forest beyond. The grizzly doesn’t budge. We all breathe a sigh of relief when the fisherman is finally reached and they are able to safely leave the area. When we finally leave in late afternoon to make our check-in for a cabin in Lake Lodge, the wolves and bear are still avoiding each other but staying close to the downed elk.