I saw a wolverine.
One gloomy morning in mid-June I went hiking with a coworker, Jessie, up to Snyder Lake. The trail head is right across the road the lodge, just a minutes walk from our dorms. We’d had a slow start– going back for forgotten things, huffing and puffing up switchbacks. And finally we were admiring this snowy emerald green lake, all nestled atop the mountain.
Sitting on this here bridge eating peanut butter sandwiches and enjoying the sun, suddenly theres a rustling on the bank. We look over, and out of the trees and brush comes a WOLVERINE.
This is where it stood, looking at us. Jessie and I were incredulous. I reached for my bear spray. She reached for her camera. But then, as quickly as it had come, it disappeared through the trees and probably had summited several mountains before we even found its tracks.
So I should say, I was fairly neutral towards wolverines before this summer, no strong feelings about them either way. But all the people here LOVE them. Everyone has a factoid, anecdote, or bit of folklore to share about them. No one knows how many there are in the U.S, though it’s estimated the population is around five hundred. Apparently they can take down full grown bears, wolves, and moose. They can summit several thousand foot peaks in half an hour, roam 500 miles in 3 months, run 100 miles from one end of the park to the other in a day. Truly! They’re the strongest species in the world, pound for pound. Seeing one is like seeing a ghost, a god, a small, grungy phantom.
They always fight to the death! And they make a mean omelette.
Ok, the last bit I made up. But you get the idea.
Inspired by my encounter, I drew a picture of a wolverine on the front desk message board. A man staying at the lodge saw the my drawing and told me that in some northern folklore the wolverine shepherded us through the animal world to our current human state.
Within the genus there are two subspecies– Gulo gulo Luscus and Gulo gulo Gulo.
I think it sounds like a mournful call. I have images of a lone wolverine wandering through the moonlit woods, running up mountains, calling “gulo gulo guloooooooooo”, trying to find us.