This story is based on the true story of OR7, the wolf who travelled 1200 miles in search of a mate. Driven to become an alpha wolf and establish a pack of his own, Snap Wolf’s story is one of my favorites.
The move to Oregon
Snap Wolf lifted his nose and sniffed air. The blue haze that filled Hells Canyon nearly obscured the pale string of the Snake River that flowed below him on the valley floor.
Squinting his eyes to defeat the glare of the low-hanging sun, he scanned the distant mountains to the west.
Alpha, his father, was about to lead his pack across the river and settle them in the Wallowa Mountainsof Oregon. Snap had always wondered what lay on the other side of the river and now he was going to find out. The Idaho wolves were meeting with them to say goodbye.
Meanwhile, across the river, patches of pine trees and other hardy vegetation struggled to sustain themselves. However the clusters of trees and bushes didn’t complain… they seemed to understand that their job was to provide food and shelter for the birds and animals that lived there.
For centuries, the animals and birds that made the Wallowa Mountains their home, took advantage of the provisions the forests and prairie grasses provided. The animals and birds didn’t tell them that they loved them… but the trees and grasses knew.
Meanwhile, the porcupines were petrified when they heard the wolves from Idaho were returning to the Wallowa’s. The badgers spread the word that soon they would be seeing gray wolves.
These Horse Creek dwellers, which were sure that the news would panic everyone, were surprised when they all simply shrugged and went about living their lives. The other birds and animals knew that all they could do about it was to stay alert. They understood that no matter what, the wolves were going do what wolves do and they knew that they would continue to do what they did.
As for the humans who lived there, they were a mystery to all the animals. Yes, humans also do what humans do, but the animals never knew exactly what that was going to be.
Alpha brought his pack into Wallowa territory and settled in the Imnaha Valley. He sniffed every rock, tree and bush searching for evidence of other wolf packs. He led a series of threatening howls to warn any wolves within earshot to leave or at least stay clear. So far no one had dared to challenge his leadership and it didn’t look like anyone would do so very soon.
He ordered his pack members to explore the wooded hills and pastureland along the Imnaha River to make sure there was a good food supply. They found the
area well populated with both large and small animals. Alpha was confident that he and his powerful family would own the Oregon Wallowa territory.
Leaving the pack
Snap took a deep breath of clear mountain air. He felt strong. His muscles rippled complementing the handsome frame of the powerful wolf he’d grown to be.
But the question of what it would be like to be an alpha wolf gnawed at him.
‘There can be only one alpha wolf in the pack,’ he thought. ‘I need to challenge my father for leadership or leave and establish my own pack. It is a decision every male wolf must make… a decision I must make…it’s the way of wolves. To stay would be to remain subservient… like my brothers who follow the old one like helpless sheep.’
But if he left, he knew he would lose the security of the pack. He would face the hidden dangers in theformidable Blue Mountains.
He stood for a long while contemplating the possible move. Dare he leave the Imnaha pack and search for a mate?
It was spring… the time for Alpha and his prime female to produce new pups to enlarge the pack.
‘I can’t stay,’ Snap thought. “I must leave, find a mate and become an alpha male of my own pack.”
He looked closely at the healthy, white petals of a woodland strawberry. “You get to be a beautiful, five-petaled white flower with yellow whiskers in the center of your face as long as you live… Is that fun?”
Of course, the strawberry didn’t respond. It just beamed in the rays of the bright sun.
In bending down he inadvertently kicked a cluster of dandelion seeds sending them sailing into the gentle breeze.
And you get to go wherever the wind takes you,” he said watching the tiny parachutes floating… growing smaller and smaller against the azure sky.
Night was coming on. Snap rose on his haunches, sniffed the air, and trotted over the straw-colored grass to join his lounging pack. He spent the remaining twilight moments walking among them looking at each of his beautiful sisters and strong handsome brothers.
He stopped to admire his mother. He’d find a mate like her. He looked at his father. ‘He is a good alphamale,’ Snap thought, ‘… a good example for me.’
He lay down with his chin between his outstretched paws, closed his eyes and went to sleep.
The journey begins
The faint glow of morning appeared over the jagged crest of the mountains east of Cayuse Meadow. Snap lifted himself to a standing position and surveyed his sleeping family. He was starting a journey… a journey to fulfill an ancient urge that gnaws at all male wolves.
Throughout the day, he followed faint animal trails paralleling the Imnaha River. He wasn’t in a hurry, but he did want to be far enough away that there was little likelihood that Alpha or any of his brothers would come after him.
He was glad that the bird’s singing was the only sound that broke the silence in the forest. He liked birds… their songs were company.
Circling vultures told him that carrion was near. A deer may have fallen off a bluff and died. He trotted toward them. After eating his fill, he found a patch of lupine, finessed into a suitable bed and lay down.
Suddenly, he heard a rustling nearby. Nerves alerted and muscles tensed, Snap was ready to defend himself. He was surprised to see a red fox creeping into his space.
The fox looked up at him and froze. She had never seen anything like him before.
“What are you? I’ve never se, se, seen…”
“A wolf… I’m a wolf,” Snap reassured. “Snap’s my name… What’s yours?”
“Amber. Where did you come from, Sn, Sn… Snap? What are you doing here?”
“Looking for a wolf mate… You seen any wolves around here?”
“Never seen one before…” Amber answered timidly, letting her guard down a bit. “You’re big,” she managed to add.
Snap laughed, “You’re small… You alone?”
“No, there are a lot of us hanging out in these buttes. You wouldn’t hurt us foxes, would you?”
“Not unless you give me cause,” Snap answered.
“Then, you can stay here with us, if you like. The others will love it… I’ll bet you can whip a cougar.”
“Whip a cougar? Done it before,” Snap answered confidently.
“I gotta get back to the rest… Gotta tell them…” Amber said.
Snap watched her go. “Pretty fox.”
As the setting sun glowed in the west, Snap gazed at the silhouette of the black mountains. He had done it. He’d left the security of his powerful father’s pack. A shudder gripped his body. He was alone now. As cute as the fox was… foxes would not do. He had to search until he could find a mate. He had to become the alpha of his own pack.
In the distance Snap could hear a mournful howl. It was his mother’s voice calling for him.
He stirred, tempted to run to her. He trotted a hundred yards or so in the direction of the beckoning call.
He stopped. ‘No!’ He’d answered an ancient urge… it compelled him to set his feet into the unknown. He did not answer the howl but returned to his bed and settled down.
Before falling asleep he mused, ‘Tomorrow, I’ll sniff the free mountain air and strike out… followBeeler Ridge… south.’
This story can be found on Amazon in its entirety for $2.99. Enjoy this three chapter sample. You will like it for yourself and/or for a child you might know./jj