This story happened during my third visit of Montenegro.
Last year I arrived to Republic of Montenegro on Sunday, 19th September. For spending my vacation I had chosen the magnificent place. I wanted to explore the wonderful Durmitor Mountains which were proclaimed as the national park in 1952.
On the first day of my stay in Durmitor, on Monday, it was a bad weather - foggy and slight drizzling. So instead of climbing the peaks of the mountains I decided to visit some nice lakes surrounded by old forests. I headed into the Forest of Giants to enjoy magnificent ancient trees. This forest reminds me some pictures of the famous Olympic rainforest in Washington state full of huge trees so I gave it a name the Forest of Giants. In the evening a message clicked to my cell phone. It was a daily weather forecast. "On Tuesday the weather will be a beautiful. Mostly sunny and warm." I read on display of my mobile phone. Well now, yet, on Monday evening, there was no indication. It's foggy and unpleasant. I'll be surprised.
On Tuesday morning a bright daylight waked me up at half past six. Pushing aside the curtain on the window of my bungalow I could see totally blue sky. Above the camp, sharply cut mountain peaks bathed in the rays of the rising sun. Wow! Forecast did not lie. It really worked.
I did not hesitate for a minute. I jumped from the bed to make my breakfast quickly. I had to go soon. For that day I had planned the longest and hardest hike - a climb the highest peak of Durmitor - Bobotov Kuk 2523 m.
The highest peak of Durmitor - Bobotov Kuk 2523 m
About half past seven in the morning I set out from the camp. Silence was everywhere and nobody's outside except one animal. Only a few dozen meters from my camp, near one of the cottages I met a dog. She was a female. She jumped on me with a joy.
You must know that in Durmitor extremely friendly and affectionate dogs and cats live. For a little caress they would go outside the county. When you stroke such a lonely domestic animal, from that moment dog is yours. You cannot get rid of her already. So I had got a friend - a nice beloved dog.
We went together to crossroads near the famous Black Lake. This glacial lake is a landmark of the Durmitor Mountains. That Tuesday's morning lumps of thick fog were rolling above the surface of the Black Lake. Unlike Sunday, when the lake surroundings had been full of tourists, that moment absolute silence ruled this place. Meanwhile in the morning, not a soul anywhere.
Continuing on the way along the lake I and my doggie came to the estuary of creek named the Mill stream. This small branch led us to the crossroads of hiking trails. Here, the board shows the direction and time of hike to our today's destination - Bobotov Kuk 5.5 hours.
I stopped and tried my female doggie to explain that she couldn´t go with me. I looked into her brown eyes and by hand gestures I tried to explain her my request to return: "Please stay here, my doggie. You can't go to Bobotov Kuk with me. Up there it would be very difficult for you to climb the rocks and I have no food and water for you, my doggie. In my backpack there is only the chocolate and juice. Dogs like you cannot eat this."
The doggie, however, didn't let to discourage and went with me up through old forest consisted of spruces and firs. Our footpath ascended steeply up the hill.
Suddenly the dog stopped. She's all nervous and frightened, like a madman, running back down the path. "What's wrong with her?" I thought. Had she glimpsed a roe deer and intended to pursue it? I stood and wondered.
Anyway, dog left me so I have to go alone. When I made a first step, at that same moment, from the top of a parallel path with my trail a beast was trotting in my direction. An animal looked like a shepherd dog with a distinctive facial mask. Some kind of a strange dog, I thought to myself. And then I realized it. Wow! This forest creature was a wolf. I stared at the real wolf. His fur was yellow with some brown and grey patches on the back.
Fog on the Black Lake, NP Durmitor, September 21st 2010. It's Tuesday morning 8 am. From the Lokvica Valley (on the right side of the picture) a lone wild wolf is going down through the foggy forest.
Wolf trotted around me with his head bowed to the ground like I was not even there. His movement was noble, typically wolf. His paws barely touched the ground. It was like the wolf would have floated above the terrain with absolute ease. He was trotting in a straight line with clear destination in his mind. It was a real wild wolf. I had never seen any dog to move this way. The wolf did not look at me not even a corner of his eye. I was for him only just one of those trees growing along the forest path.
As the wolf had appeared at the top of the trail, he followed the path and finally disappeared down in the wood. Wolf passed me at a distance of five meters (about 16 feet). After this moment I stayed on the trail alone and tried to sort thoughts in my head. I still did not fully realize whom I had the honor to meet with.
Wolf, wolf, wolf, this word was chasing in my head. I already understood a dog behavior. She smelled the wolf. Therefore my doggie ran away to hide somewhere. Wolves routinely kill dogs. How many articles I have read on this subject.
Since my meeting with the wolf I was alone again. My doggie left me. So I had to continue in my trek without her.
After about fifteen minutes of walk I suddenly spotted my faithful dog. She ran to me and started to jump on my legs. She was very happy to see me again. I was very happy that she was alive and well. After hiding somewhere in wait until the wolf passed, she walked in my footsteps up. It´s good to be together again. We, I and my doggie, continued on climbing to the highest peak of the Durmitor Mountains - Bobotov Kuk.
In the evening in my bungalow, above my open map, I started thinking about intentions of movement of the lone wolf, I met him. On the night of Monday to Tuesday, hidden by the cover of thick fog the lone wolf headed for Katun Lokvica to determine whether there were some sheep, would take one for dinner. Unfortunately for the wolf, the sheep were already down in the valleys. Cold fall season was approaching. Sheepfold and shepherd's corral Lokvica were already deserted. In the morning, wolf ran down and on the trail to the Black lake we met. Surely the wolf did not come down all the way to the Mill stream but I think he turned from the marked trail to a path that goes to relatively remote places which are designated on maps as "Vučja Bara"(Bara Wolf).
During my consultation in the Durmitor National Park Authority in Zabljak next day, nice Vanja Krgović, a ranger of the national park, confirmed me that Durmitor is the real wolf kingdom. She told me that she often observe silvery gray wolves playing directly at the lower station of lift to Savin Kuk during winter months. Close to those places we can find in the maps a locality under the name "Vučja Jama" (Wolf's Hollow). Bears in the national park Durmitor are also present, but only in the forested parts of canyons of the famous Tara River and the Sušice River. Lynxes, they said that unfortunately do not live here for ten years. Lynxes are abundant in the Dammed Mountains (Prokletije) on the Montenegro-Albanian border and bears find their true El Dorado in virgin forest of the National Park Biogradska Gora.
Immediately after my arrival of Durmitor back to the Czech Republic I tried in the books and especially by searching through the Internet to find pictures of wolf that would be the most similar to the wolf which I met on the path in the woods of the Black Lake. Pictures of wolves from the Belgrade Zoo in Serbia were very helpful to me for the determination of the wolf looks. But the closest wolf in appearance to the wolf from the Durmitor Mountains I have found in Ian McAllister's book "The Last Wild Wolves, Ghosts of the Rainforest". It was a leader of the Surf pack, a male named Bob. You can find his photo on page number 84 and 111 of this book.
I will always remember the face of the wolf from the Durmitor Mountains, his typical wolf mask. We were remarkably so close to each other. I can hardly believe it.
And now every time I open Ian McAllister's book "Last Wild Wolves" and look at pictures of Bob, a leader of the Surf pack from the Great Bear Rainforest, I can always see my wolf from the Durmitor Mountains in Montenegro.
A Lone Wolf from the Czech Republic