I just got back from an incredible backpacking weekend with my cousin. I went SCUBA diving on the iron range in the Biwabik/Aurora area in the mine pits on Saturday. I then drove to meet my cousin Saturday night at Bear Head Lake State Park up near Ely where we camped overnight. Then on Sunday we drove up near Grand Portage on the SHT and then yesterday down south to Jay Cook State Park.
The highlight was an encounter with a large timber wolf Monday morning on our hike out. We were on the section of trail starting at the parking area on Arrowhead Trail Road. We hiked to the first campsite heading northeast towards Jackson Lake Road. The trail this far north is incredibly dense with vegetation. You almost need a machete to get through some of this stuff. There were spots with weeds and brush chest high and you couldn't hardly see the trail most of the time because it was closed in with so much vegetation.
We decided to hike out Monday morning to Jackson Lake Road and then hike back to the cars via Jackson Lake Road and Arrowhead Trail Road rather than back track to save time and our legs...LOL! We started out early and stopped at "Hellacious Overlook" and shot some pictures. It was a spectacular view. I took my pack off and got some shots and then put my pack back on.
Moments later we heard sticks breaking and rustling in the brush sounding like something large was running full speed right towards us. Shooting out of the brush came a large full grown gray wolf. I don't think he even knew we were there. He came right out in the clearing where we were within less than 10 feet from us and he looked to his right and saw us standing there making eye contact with us. Then he did a circle and ran back into the brush. My cousin and I were just stunned. It totally took us by surprise. We said to each other holy s**t did you see that?!!! We sat there frozen in disbelief.
A minute went by and we heard the wolf coming back toward us for another round. The wolf stopped right on the edge of the brush and stared us down looking back and forth at the two of us several times. My cousin drew his Glock just in case. I didn't even think to draw my gun because I was still just blown away at was happening and the adrenaline was pumping. While the wolf was staring us down I just out of instinct picked up a rock and threw it into the brush towards the wolf and he turned and trotted back into the thicket. We sat there for a few minutes and then went back on our way to finish the hike.
It was an amazing experience and from what I've heard extremely rare to have a close encounter let alone even see a wolf out there in the wild. It's going to be a great memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life. This summer now I have been fortunate to be able to see a wolf and a black bear up close on the trail!