The camp was finally set up. They had spent the better part of the day hiking to Sasha’s favorite spot up in the Catalina mountain range. Pinching him, batting her eyelids to tease him, Loreena accentuated the pronunciation of “Sasha” because she knew how much he hated being called that. Though it was his birth name, the name was a remnant of his family’s Russian heritage and he associated the name as being too feminine. The late afternoon air was cool and fresh, encouraging him to take in a big breath as he dropped the canned foods he was holding, sweeping her feet out from underneath her and pinning her, mocking a hungry predator. Like a school girl, she giggles, “Okay, Okay! I give up! Nate, it’s Nate!” she squealed in delight from his kissing. He had been lazy and had not shaved for 2 days getting ready for their trip. His beard felt like sandpaper against her skin as she warmed to him and smiled.
“That’s what I thought.” he said with a sense of dramatic finality, holding in his own smile. “Gods I love this woman.” he thought to himself. From there, he focused on what would be needed to get through the night. The rest they would forage for in the morning. It had been years since he had been here, a child really. Now in graduate school, bringing her here felt like life had come full circle and wanted her to see what had inspired him as a child, his secret ‘spot’.
Digging the hole for the fire and making all other preparations, “Hunny, could you round us up something fresh?” knowing how good she was with her bow and loved hunting. “I’m going to grab some kindling and wood for the fire.” he finished without waiting for a response. He then walked out of their camping area to follow through with both his task and to revisit his childhood memories, times with his dad before he had passed away. The forest was so quiet. All that could be heard was the sound of the wind in the pines far over him, covering the landscape like a blanket. Things crunched under his feet as he took notice of everything. About fifteen minutes from their campsite while picking up up dead branches that had fallen, kindling from the pines and usable remnants from small plants and bushes forcing their way through the tree’s dominance for survival, he saw an old, broken up trunk right next to a small alcove at the base of a cliff. The stone wall seemed to start here, he remember it. The Cliff pushed upward out of nowhere and rose in an epic proportion straight upwards for as far as he could see. Trees and plants grew from cracks in the natural monument higher up and blocked the rest of his view. Down at ground level, bushes competed for living space in the small nook created there. He went to examine the felled, ancient tree anxious to make use of its wood.
Something moved in the bushes, a shadow with a small tinkling of leaves. In this light and location, it was barely perceptible, like dark in shadow. Nate was curious but knew better than to approach it. Mountain lions and bears make these woods their home. “Damn, I really wanted that wood too.” he cursed at his misfortune.
Smelling the air, the ancient wolf sensed the human coming long before the human had known himself he was coming in this direction. He and his pack shouldn’t exist in the modern world. Somehow they knew they were out of place. They carried with them only fragments of a communal memory on how they came to be. Scouting for the pack, he had taken refuge from the scent of the human in the underbrush at the base of the cliff having learned that those who ran often died as quick as those who stood there not moving. Anxious to return to the pack, the massive wolf waited quietly, his mind ready to run or attack at any given moment. All that would happen would be determined by what the human did. The pack was hungry and had been days since they’d last eaten. This had been a good season so far, with plenty of rain and more game than other years past but even now, most food sources were often killed off by the few remaining other predators or humans. The pack was small and intelligent, knowing as all things wild instinctively knows to do, stay away from all humans but they were still dying out, bit by bit. No other wolves were in the area for them to compete with for resources but they weren’t too picky either. Perfectly fine with any food sources and as scavengers, if forced to, they would hunt, including other predators. Letting time pass before he finally left the cover of the bush, making his escape, the scent of meat roasting caught him in mid stride. From his position, he was down wind from the two campers and he stopped for a moment to enjoy the scent, though the smoke bothered him, throwing off senses for a moment.
While their small meal of beans and some rabbit Loreena had miraculously managed to find and kill with her bow cooked over the fire, Nate had walked into the woods to relieve himself. The last moments of daylight forced its way through the trees and the dense forest when something moving caught Nate’s eyes. He froze, worried that their meal had attracted a bear. Instead, in the twilight of the dimly lit woods something massive stared back at him. His heart raced and pounded. He thought for sure it would jump out of his chest at that moment. “That’s no bear. What the hell is that?” his eyes quickly focused and in the moment their eyes met, Nate recognized the shape and form of it created by the shadows, a wolf but he couldn’t reconcile his conflicting thoughts amongst his panic. In that split second the information he was seeing mixed with the knowledge that no wolves were in the area. On top of this, the wolf was huge. His mind screamed in a mix of fight or flight instinct. Instead, his senses and body took another automated response and froze, just as the wolf had. Clearly the massive wolf had also seen him and was making a choice. Suddenly it was gone, like a ghost. Nothing but the wind and the darkness remained.
What if a wolf of enormous proportions lived in this world we know today? Game of Thrones didn’t make up a new and fictitious species. Once upon a time there were Dire Wolves…
What and who were the Dire Wolves?
“Dire Wolf (Canis Dirus)”
By Bob Strauss
“Diet: Meat; Distinguishing Characteristics: Heavy build; short legs
About the Dire Wolf (Canis dirus):
The Dire Wolf, Canis dirus, is one of those extinct megafauna mammals whose legend is way more intimidating than the way it actually lived. This true prehistoric dog (and indirect ancestor of modern dogs) looked a lot like the modern Grey Wolf, except for the fact that it was stockier, with slightly shorter legs, and had a smaller brain as well. Interestingly, the fossils of Canis dirus have been discovered in the La Brea Tar Pits of Los Angeles, alongside the remains of another, more dangerous predator–Smilodon, better known as the saber-toothed tiger. (See The Dire Wolf vs. the Saber-Toothed Tiger – Who Wins?)
The reason the Dire Wolf was less dangerous than its legend is that this prehistoric canine doesn’t seem to have been an active hunter–paleontologists speculate that Canis dirus filled the same slot in its North American habitat as the hyena does in modern Africa, a scavenger of already-dead carcasses rather than an active hunter. Clearly, the Dire Wolf’s teeth and powerful jaws were well-adapted to crushing bones, which would have extracted every last bit of nourishment from any rotting corpses it happened across.” (1) http://dinosaurs.about.com/od/mesozoicmammals/p/dire-wolf.htm
They are also creating or already have created a dog species that is supposed to look and have all the features of the ancient Dire Wolf. What do you think about that?
See also “10 Facts about the Dire Wolf” by Bob Strauss (2) http://dinosaurs.about.com/od/otherprehistoriclife/a/10-Facts-About-The-Dire-Wolf.htm also by Bob Strauss
Partially written and also shared by Moro