To the Editor:

This October I celebrated my 76th birthday. I wanted to celebrate this one in my most favorite place in the world — Yellowstone National Park.

As I do twice a year in the fall and spring, I brought Dawson, my 9-year-old canine companion, with me. He’s a well-behaved visitor and loves the park as much as I do.

Not surprising to those who know me, the Yellowstone animals I love most are the wolves. They are the reason I return to the park year after year.

Dawson and I stayed in a log cabin a mile from the park.

At 2 a.m. on my birthday, I was in bed asleep with Dawson curled up beside me.

That’s when the howling woke me.

Dawson’s ears were pricked, and he was pressed against me as close as he could get — something he rarely did.

The howling was coming from the exterior side of the bedroom wall. A pack of wolves were outside, and I knew who they were — the park’s legendary Lamar Canyon Pack.

They had been seen in the area the previous day. I laid my head back on my pillow and listened to the long, beautiful song from a half dozen throats vocalizing together and wafting in and around the cabin and high in the overhead canopy of conifer boughs.

“What a beautiful birthday greeting,” I thought drowsily as I drifted back to sleep.

When I checked outside the cabin later that morning, I found in a patch of snow left over from the previous week’s snowfall what I hoped to find — a wolf’s paw print!

I photographed it — a visual remembrance of an unforgettable birthday. It’s one I will treasure the rest of my days.

Waldo Montgomery


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