In all the years that I have been camping in the backcountry there have only been a few times when I was lucky enough to hear the amazing sound of howls coming across the hills. Howls of wolves. It is an incredible sound. The sound of the wilderness.
When I have heard them it has always been at a considerable distance. At a distance where you can enjoy it with absolutely no worry that the wolves are too close. You can comfortably imagine the pack running through the forest singing their song.
One of the most frustrating things for me when I am camping is that often the best stuff, the most interesting things, the unexpected events, or the hilarious accidents happen when I don't have a camera or audio rolling. That is what happened on our last winter camping trip of this season. We had decided last minute to get one more winter trip in before the snow melted away. We camped in the airfield near Mew Lake campground in Algonquin Provincial Park. We had camped in this spot about six weeks before and really liked it so we returned.
We had amazing weather. It was warm and sunny throughout the days, and clear and cold at night. The stars and the waxing moon were brilliant. It was about 3:00 am on our third and last night that the first bark, then howl was heard. I was suddenly alert, eyes wide open, as I lay in my tent. The howls grew. It was certainly a pack of wolves. But these howls weren't off in the distance. They were close. Very close. I would guess by how clear they were and how I could hear the slightest bark and growl, that they could have been as close as 50 - 100 metres away.
It was thrilling but of course a little nerve wracking. I was hanging in a Tentsile tree tent about a metre above the ground. Other than the fly sheet the tent is all mesh so I could see out in every direction. As the howls continued, for probably a good five minutes (maybe less, at night the imagination makes things bigger) I wondered whether the wolves would wander through our camp. If they did, what would they do? What would I do? I both hoped that they would and that they wouldn't. They didn't.
After a while the howling stopped. It stayed quiet for maybe another five minutes then they started again. Seemingly as close as before. My camera and audio recording gear was stowed beneath my tent. There was no way to get to it without getting outside which I was not going to do. But I do regret not being able to record it because it was spectacular. So no audio to share with you. you will just have to use your imagination. I can tell you that it was incredible and something that I would be delighted to hear again and with any luck I'll have an audio recorder in the tent with me ready to go.