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Posted 20-10-2011 by Sally Guillaume
Papa looking after the children, no clients and no other urgent things that need to be done... equals... whole day to walk in the mountains as I please...!
I chose to go to the area where we run our wolf tracking trips. Not actually in search of wolves but just because it is wild and beautiful and the chances of actually seeing another human being are very low!
It was a beautiful day and the mountains stretched out in front of me looked magnificent. We (my dog, Venus and I) set off with the objective of climbing up to the ridge and then following it around to the summit at the end and back down another ridge making a circuit.
The scale of these mountains gets me every time. Despite being here for 6 years, I still have walking in the Lake District scale imprinted on my brains and what looks like 20 minutes climb (in Lake District Terms) is always double at least!
We climbed and climbed and eventually got to the ridge and sat down for a snack and a good look around with the binoculars. Not one animal to be seen - but maybe it was just me not spotting them!
We continued and arrived at the summit - another opportunity for a good sit down and binocular!
I scanned the mountainsides all around me in search of chamois, mounflon, deer... anything really - I just wanted to see some animals.
And then as if by magic two light browny grey coloured specs in a little clearing in the steep woods in front of me. What were they? Too light to be chamois, maybe mouflon? But it looked as if one of them was sitting down like a dog. The other was definitely standing up so it wasn't a trick of the eye. A surge of adrenalin rushed through me. Maybe it was the wolves? I kept looking at them to try and get a bit more evidence - oh I wish I had my telescope and Bernard (my husband who is a wolf expert) with me! Bernard would be able to tell straight away.
I put my binoculars down to take a photo which I could at least blow up on the computer to see later and show Bernard. But as I searched with my camera lens zoomed in to the maximum they had disappeared. I scanned the mountains again with the binoculars to locate them - maybe I had got it wrong with the camera, but no - nowhere to be seen. I spent ages looking and scanning the edges of the forest where they might have come out but they had gone.
I'll never know if they were the wolves or if it was just an optical effect that made the animal look like it was sitting. Or maybe it was a fox. But it doesn't matter - it was exciting enough just to have found them.
We went down from the summit to the ridge and as I descended I saw something strange sticking up out of the grass. I went over to investigate. It was a chamois carcass. Ripped in two with its head and spine left on one side and tangled up hind legs about 2 metres away. In between the two was the evidence of the culprit. A large dark coloured fresh canine poo! The wolf.
So maybe I had or maybe I hadn't seen them but they were here and had no qualms in taking down the chamois on top of a ridge in full sight of anyone or anything that cared to look!
I took a picture and carried on down. I was very pleased to see some living chamois in the woods as I descended!
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