The evening remains calm and clear and we push on to Norman Wells. By 1:00am the light is low and visibility difficult. The lights from Norman Wells are visible in the distance but the 10kms to get to them seem a chasm to us now.
We pull ashore on an unappealing section of gravel with scrub brush extending several hundred meters to dense forest beyond. We quickly set camp and hit the sleeping pads.
Arianna tells me later she heard something outside the tent before she fell off to sleep but kept it herself.
At 4:30am I awake with a start. There's a big dog outside barking aggressively. He's only feet away. More barking and a growl.
I have a compressed air horn in the tent and give it a blast.
"Jesus, it's a fucking wolf!!" I exclaim.
I scream at the top of my lungs. "Get the hell out of here!"
More barking and growls.
I quickly put on my jacket and pants. I have a 12-gauge shotgun at my feet and I load in four slugs.
"What are you doing?!"
"I have to go out," I reply.
I unzip the tent door, slip on my shoes, unzip the fly, take a deep breath and step outside.
Staring at me from 50 feet away is the largest wolf I've ever seen. Even the stuffed one I saw on the drive up doesn't come close. He cants his head to the sky.
He looks straight back at me. I hit the air horn again.
I scream at him "Get the fuck out of here!!" and make one step forward.
I lower my shotgun about 30 feet above the wolf's right shoulder and squeeze the trigger. The blast is deafening as the butt punches hard into my shoulder. The wolf wields around and runs 50 meters inland, stops and turns to me. More barking.
I yell into the tent,
"Guys, we got to get out of here. This guy doesn't want to go."
The next 30 minutes are very tense as we keep everyone together while packing the gear up and tearing down the tent. It all feels so much slower when there's an angry wolf pacing a short distance away. My real concern is that there's a pack close by and his howling is bringing them in. When the tent collapses the wolf strides towards us and crosses about 30 meters above. He stops shortly and stares. He's pissed.
We pack the boats and slip off the shore. It's just after 5:00am and the wind is cold and strong. The river is uninviting but I've never been happier to be heading out onto stormy waters.