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What a wildlife tracking trip taught us about teamwork.

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What a wildlife tracking trip taught us about taking responsibility and teamwork


Yesterday and all night it had snowed, now we had 10 cm of fresh snow. Outside looked like a painting, a perfect winter wonderland. This is also the perfect condition for tracking wildlife as the tracks will be easy to see and you can tell they are fresh. It was just Lorenz and I at the Ranch and we decided to take advantage of this opportunity. The evening before we had decided to wake up early, so we would be on the road by daylight before the plow truck would remove all the snow from the road and with it the evidence of animals crossing. Before we left, we checked the truck carefully as there would be nobody who could rescue us if the truck stopped working. We grabbed our binoculars, camera and a sat phone for emergencies.

We were ready to go and hit the road just a little after daylight, however, the plow truck had already made his way down the road on one side. But we just had to look on the sides if any tracks were coming out of the trees. We drove for quite a while and nothing. But then suddenly, there was something. We stopped and checked out the tracks. Fresh wolf tracks. We looked on the frozen lake which the wolves like to cross during the night to hunt. We spotted a big eagle and lots of crows, but no wolf. So we continued down the road. We drove again for quite a while and came across some sheep tracks. But while we looked up the ridges and down to the lake, we did not see any. As we had not been so lucky, we decided to try a more remote road off the main road. The plow truck did not plow this road and we got lucky again. More fresh wolf tracks right in the middle of the road. It looked like about three wolves were walking here and then the tracks vanished off the road into the trees. They must have been just right before us and when we came across the corner, they jumped off the road to hide from us. It was exciting.

We decided to turn around to see if they would come back down to another road. The road we were currently on, we had been on before, but only as far as we were now. We went a little further, but as we did not know how much longer that road would continue, we decided to turn around in a spot the snow did not seem that high. We backed up, tried to drive forward back on the road, but we were stuck. We tried back and forth for a moment. I stood outside and looked but the wheels just turned on the spot, digging deeper in the snow instead of moving forward. We were definitely stuck. We stood there for a moment, then Lorenz suggested to get some hay that was laying in the back of the truck and to chop some branches to put in the snow so the truck would have grip. I remembered that was a shovel in the back of the truck. So while I started shoveling the snow away, Lorenz chopped branches and put them under the wheels. We both had different ideas, however, putting them both in action made them each more effective. Sure, we had the sat phone, but who would we call? There was no one at the Ranch to come and rescue us. That thought also could have been a reason for either of us to panic, to give into the emotions of feeling helpless and that the world was against us. But we both stayed calm. We communicated our ideas and put our different approaches together to achieve the best outcome.

And right in the moment in which we were about to try out if we had shoveled enough and put enough branches on the ground, a truck pulled up. It seemed like the universe wanted to reward our approach of taking responsibility for our situation instead of panicking. We had a rope in the back, we tied it to both trucks and in 2 seconds we were back on the road. We followed the other truck down the road and two minutes from where we had tried to turn around was a big area to turn around, proving to us once more “when you think you have reached the end, you have not gone far enough”.

Though we were not successful in viewing wildlife, this trip was an invaluable exercise for the both of us.