Kiana Travel Blog› entry 13 of 38 › view all entries
On the fourth of July, I hiked to the Kiana Lodge about a mile downstream. I walked along the strip of spruce trees on soft ground, following a game trail through green forest that reminded me of New Zealand. The spruce stand gradually thinned then vanished altogether where a wide, low-lying clearing opened up; a drainage. After crossing that stretch of wet and spongy, moss-covered tundra and approaching the next stand of spruce, I saw the pup ... then another. Fox.
I remained undetected and laid low, on my side, to watch them from about twenty yards away. Though there was a slight breeze, I was downwind. The pups stood about ten inches tall and eighteen to twenty inches long. I wouldn't know how old they were.
That was exactly a month ago so I returned this afternoon to see how the critters had grown. The trail through the spruce woods hadn't changed but the wide drainage had been inhabited by arctic terns. While females remained with eggs or newborns in a nearby unseen nest, the males shrieked and dove at me from all sides.
I slowly approached the familiar viewpoint. The fox den is hidden now by green brush. They wouldn't be in there anyway, I supposed, they would be out hunting, getting fattened up for the rapidly approaching winter. If the terns didn't give me away, maybe it was the aroma of my Ukraine Marlboro since the pup's senses would be keener this month. As rain approached, I laid there watching and waiting for an hour, munching blueberrys that grew around the area. Nothing. Maybe the entire den packed up and traveled south; were eaten by a larger predator; were out hunting for the day; or simply had the common sense to stay in out of the rain.