Standing at the edge of a clearing, a lone wolf pauses to take in the sights around him. A valley lay before him, a cauldron of tall dark green pine trees mixed with patches of golden brown deciduous trees. A turquoise lake lay in the center of the valley, some patches of fog collecting near its center and floating upwards ever so slightly. The highest peaks of the mountains white with snow, against a gray sky. A cool wind chills the wolf, causing him to shiver, and lower his gaze a little. Winter is coming, perhaps sooner then he had anticipated. The weather seems to be taking the trees by surprise too, as he watches some golden brown leaves blow past him in a gust of wind. He steps out from the treeline, and begins to venture down the hill side. His tail relaxed, but his ears alert in this unfamiliar territory. His golden pelt, with silver highlights, and a light gray under belly, providing good camouflage for him at this time of the year when all the foliage is turning brown for its winter slumber.
He dashes into another patch of forest, as he continues down the mountain side, towards the turquoise lake. The strong scent of pine now filling his nose, as he tries to sniff out any game. The ancient pine trees he passes are all twisted and wind battered. High up on the hill there is not much protection from the elements for these trees. Many have fallen down over the years and have created log dams between denser patches of trees. The slope is steep here, and trees are sparse. He navigates carefully around the overturned pines, and winds his way downwards, always sniffing for any new scents and trying to be stealthy and slick in his movements, as if he was moving with a purpose.
He is hungry and hasn't eaten in a few days. He had hoped to find some easy game in this valley, but so far hasn't seen or caught any scents other then an occasional Moose trail. He had considered following the Moose trail, but he knew that most likely, he alone could not have any chance against a Moose. Even if it was injured or weak. It was a hopeless temptation and he had known it. So he continued onwards, searching for something smaller.
The underbrush becoming thicker as he descends the mountainside. He slows his advance downward in order to safely navigate small pine trees, and wide thorny bushes, mostly void of their red leaves. He notices a sweet smell and stops, to investigate. His nose searching the ground, he begins to track back and forth, then lifts his head and looks around. His nose twitching, he finally notices the origin of the scent. A small gathering of bright red berries clings to the thorny branch of a nearby bush. He ponders for a moment, remembering a bad experience with berries from his past. He quickly lifts his leg to mark his scent on a nearby rock, then turns and continues downhill.
The underbrush thickening, slowed his travel extensively. Many scents were distracting him. Mostly plant based, but he had detected a few stale animal scents. He had come across what he figured must be a regular trail for a Red Fox, as he found a spot where it marks its territory. The scent was strong, but stale. It had been several hours since it had been last sprayed. He could tell it was a male fox, and assumed that there was likely a den nearby with the female and some kits. He had decided not to follow the trail, but continue to the lake. It was late in the afternoon, and the overcast sky was beginning to darken. He had been traveling for over 24 hours. The mountain top he had crested earlier in the day provided no shelter for him to rest.
Not far further down the hill, he came across a steep short descent, town to a narrow road. He had stopped, and was looking up and down the road, cautious, his tail held high. When he was sure that it was vacant, he eased himself down a narrow wedge of earth that had been washed out from the cut to make space for the road. Standing on the road, he noticed tire tracks in the soft silt which had been deposited from the washout. He also noticed the feeling of the soft silt on his paws, and as he leaned his head down to sniff the tracks, he saw his own paw prints clearly visible in the silt. The tracks were fairly old and weathered. The smell of rubber ever so faint to his senses. The smell of diesel exhaust and humans even fainter. He relaxed a little, letting his tail fall into a more relaxed position. He, like most wolves, avoided humans. They were his only enemy. They had taken his family from him. He knew all too well what they were capable of.
He walked to the far edge of the roadway and looked down as the hill descended further. It wasn't that steep, in fact the hill was easing as it neared the valley floor. But it was thick with undergrowth. The trees had become mixed and deciduous trees were now dominant, with a few tall pines mixed in between them. But it seemed that around the road, there were few older trees. Most of it was younger growth, with large stumps dotted around the forest floor, smoothly cut, and rotting away. The wood dark and damp, covered with moss in the shaded light of the dense young forest. He turned and looked down the roadway. A black cable stretched between old poles, precariously placed along the road. The old telephone poles, rotting and unsteady were reminders to the wolf that it was hard to escape the reach of the humans. He looked back at the tire tracks in the soft silt, and how aged they were, then back down the road.
Opting for the easier route, he decided to travel along this road. He tried to keep alert, as darkness began to descend, but he found himself becoming weary and tired. He