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That Night We Danced With the Wolves. ~ Heather Hendry

The late summer sun was setting fast.

My soul had been craving a good dose of Mother Nature. Wildlife. Freedom. A chance to leave “it” all behind. I was itching with anticipation and a deep rooted desire to sleep under the stars.

Our sea kayaks were tightly and meticulously packed for our overnight camping adventure, as well as a few “necessities” tucked away at my feet.

We pushed off from shore and glided into the soft rolling ocean swell of Clayoquot Sound, home to a plethora of marine life and soaring eagles. We pointed our kayaks forward and set our final destination on Vargas Island, about two kilometers North. An island lush with our West Coast beauty and inhabited by wildlife most people only read about.

My long time friend (and soul sister) guided us from the rear, as we started to dip our paddles into the increasingly choppy waters.

Stroke. Stroke. Stroke. Pause. Glide.

Lightness was replaced by darkness, as the sun tucked behind the mountains and the soft glow of the moon started to rise. Starlit, we continued to paddle through the currents.

Stroke. Stroke. Stroke. Pause. Glide.

My salty eyes were glued on the lighthouse in the distance. It appeared to be creeping further away, as we slowly moved forward. My Mom’s voice echoed in my ears, as she urged me to turn back. “Don’t be stupid Heather. You don’t have proper headlamps, it’s cold, a boat could come out of the darkness and … “

I shaked away my Mom’s worry  and tightened my grip on my paddles.

Stroke. Stroke. Stroke. Pause. Glide.

Two kilometers quickly felt daunting, as the cold water started to seep through my shirt—all I could think about was my dry bag of clothes sandwiched inside my kayak.

Vargas Island started to grow in front of us and to my delight the protected Rassier Point was upon us. A private patch of sandy beach, which we would call home for the night.

We landed our kayaks and I shakily touched my sea legs down onto the sand. I felt like an early exploring discovering new and untouched land. We were alone, aside from the forest edge and whatever lurked within.

Darkness, illuminated by the moon. Dead silence.

We were visitors on this island. Careful to practice safe camping etiquette and make sure we didn’t anger our neighbors for the night.

Our neighbors—grey wolves.

Shy and elusive. Endemic to Vancouver Island, these magnificent creatures live in packs from five to twenty and typically stay far from human activity. Sadly, they are at serious risk of permanent decline.

As we unpacked and set up our camp, my mind wandered to these beautiful creatures, and my eyes darted across the forest edge for any sign of their presence. Intuition ran deep and I knew they were there. Hiding harmlessly in the shadows.

Once we finished setting up camp, we settled into our cozy spots in front of the roaring fire.

Warm embers escaped and landed at my feet. Flickers of the fire casted a shadow against the deserted beach.

In that moment in time; I felt “magic.” Pure and real. I was reveling in the beauty around me and couldn’t believe it was all our own for the night. Well, not entirely our own…

As the night crept further into darkness, we took our feet to the sand and danced under the stars. Arms reaching high into the sky, as a thank you for this moment in time. Breathless and blessed, I crawled into my tent and let sleep tuck me in, as my thoughts drifted back to our neighbors.

I awoke early and stepped blindly out onto the beach, bathed in the morning sun. Before me was the most magical scenery. Picturesque. Untouched. Breathtaking. Exactly what my soul needed.

My gaze drew down and scattered around our tent were the silent steps of our neighbors marked in the sand. Not a sound was made last night. No evidence of their shy presence but their footsteps and droppings scattered like a trail back to the forest edge, which confirmed their presence.

My body shivered with the thrill of having them so close, while vulnerably sleeping through their visit.

Time stood still for a few minutes, as I marveled in just being “present.” I found myself on my mat (one of my last minute necessities) and breathed into the moment. The warm sun shined down on my face as I saluted the sun and bowed deep in appreciation for coming so close (safely) with the owners of this island.

It still makes my heart skip a beat when I think back to that night. Co-existing with those beautiful creatures. We set ourselves free on that deserted beach and danced, as our audience silently watched from the forest edge.

A reminder that we are not the only ones on this planet and we need to protect and honor all living things.

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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Flickr 

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Heather Hendry

Heather Hendry loves to weave new stories with old tales, that explore the human/nature connection. She lives in Vancouver, BC but escapes to Vancouver Island as often as she can. When she is not getting lost in old legends, she is an active volunteer with inner-city kids, helping them get jazzed about reading and writing. You can connect with her through Facebook or Instagram.