Sunday, February 8, 2015

Wolf Quest Part II

Almost can't fit both locations on one screen
Ellesmere Island is so far north that the compass almost goes in circles. The only people who have seen Ellesmere Island are soviet submarine captains and arctic explorers. But that's where Arctic wolves live. While Antarctica is a continent drifting so far south that the snow and ice covering the land never thaws, Ellesmere Island is the last land mass before entering a vast sea of ice in the north. This ice would influence my quest because research proves it is shrinking at an increasing speed and what was once only traverse-able by dog sled has recently become open to ships. Minimum ice mass is now half of what it was in 1984. The Arctic Ocean will be free of ice during Summer in the future but the exact details are debated. I predict 2040 but long before that ships and oil developers will flock north to seize resources and they will populate Ellesmere Island as the closest land base to their resources, ports will be constructed, docks will appear, pipelines, Denny's, WalMart, all of it will find a place on Ellesmere Island and the wolves will be eradicated or relocated. The wolf is the one land species who has adapted to every climate so he will survive, but it irked me that this innocent wolf, quietly killing a musk ox or two on the far reaches of the planet would soon come under siege and would be killed. This irked me and irks me still but in 2009 I thought I would devote some time to the wolf's plight. No, that's not accurate because the wolf's plight had not yet begun. The ice still exists, the shipping lanes are still being debated, the land is still uninhabited. The wolf's plight is theoretical at this point so I was trying to stay ahead of the curve. I determined it could take a decade to reach Ellesmere Island so if I didn't start soon then I might miss the opportunity to recruit the army of wolf defenders in time to do any good.

The first step to traveling to Ellesmere Island was getting out of Mexico so I bought a spare tire, pointed the van north and drove at 45 mph. If I go further into detail than that then I'll never finish the tale because I will have to explain a whole series of events and introduce people who are not relevant to the wolf quest. So, I will leave my activities in Mexico unexplained and simply say that I wept as I irreversibly burned bridges by beginning my quest to save the Arctic wolf. There's a lesson here...that a quest begins when one quest ends. Maybe this isn't true in every case but it was true in mine. The wolf quest was incompatible with my goals in Mexico and something had to be abandoned. I decided the wolf was a priority. The single lane road threading up the Baja Peninsula is long and remote and vast and dangerous but I had a basic plan in my head involving a visit to my bank in Los Angeles to clear up a financial technicality, then drive to...I looked at a map....a Canadian province called Labrador...then get a boat to Baffin Island and onward to Ellesmere Island. It was a 4 step plan with lots of room for improvisation. After the tears had dried I was excited, a quest renews an old man's heart, it forgives all past failures. A quest gives a man purpose and from that moment on if anyone asked me what I was doing I said, "I'm going to Ellesmere Island to save the Arctic Wolf." And after a quizzical frown I would then begin to answer the questions that followed, questions that I was learning the answers to as I went along.

I had dreams of landscape like this alive with wolves.

Here are links to the installments of the Wolf Quest
Creative Commons License
Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.