Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mission:Wolf

Mission:Wolf is a non-profit wolf sanctuary. It is in a very remote area of Colorado but it is open to the public to help teach people about wolves (they even have wolf "ambassadors" that travel with the volunteers around the country helping to educate people).

I discovered Mission:Wolf while researching Westcliffe, a small town in the middle of nowhere. It was a place we wanted to scope out as a possible place to live someday. Since Westcliffe fell between The Great Sand Dunes and home, we thought we could just "swing by there" to take a peek and maybe check out Mission: Wolf as well (especially since The Girl is crazy about wolves now, too).

Mission:Wolf sits at an altitude above 9000 feet just on the edge of the San Isabel National Forest.  The roads to the sanctuary are very rough and in the winter they can be impassable - sometimes even if you have a 4WD.


Once we got to Mission:Wolf, one of the volunteers came out to give us a tour. It doesn't cost anything to visit, but donations are encouraged (It costs a lot to feed a bunch of hungry wolves). The volunteer that helped us was fantastic! She spent probably 2 hours with just our group of 4 people and you could tell she loved what she did.


There were lots and lots of hummingbirds!
We toured habitats, learned the back stories of many of the wolves, learned about projects in the works (when we were there, they were working on completing fire shelters for the wolves and putting together a wildfire evacuation plan).


For the most part, the wolves were set up in pairs (unless they were a larger family or just preferred being a loner). I was able to get some great photos of this pair.


Ash was a little shy at first...


The founders and volunteers at Mission:Wolf practice sustainable living. They are off-grid and all of the electricity used is from solar power. They grow a lot of their food...in gardens like below or in greenhouses. Permanent structures are built using a passive solar design and constructed from recycled building materials.

Old screen doors bent to cover delicate plants. I think I'll do this as protection from hail!

The whole area gave me a lot of ideas for living an off-grid lifestyle - especially at 9000+ feet.

If you would like to stay overnight, visitors can pitch a tent in the camping area or opt to stay in the community tepee for a small charge.



The tepee had a surprisingly large amount of space!


By this time, there was another group finishing up their tour so it was arranged for us to all meet the wolf ambassadors face to face. This may be the most memorable part of our entire trip! Being kissed by a wolf is hard to forget!

We were told to line up and enter the fenced area single file and to not make eye contact.  We were also told to keep anything loose in our pockets or leave them outside the fence - including camera, water bottles and sunglasses, because the wolves were known to grab them and run. I left my camera with The Boy who opted to not go in the fence (he's usually skittish around big dogs). He took these pictures for us.


That's Mr. LH and I in the background. Zeab is the black wolf and Abe is the white & tan wolf.
Mr. LH getting "kisses" from Magpie. I think he got more attention from these wolves than anyone else in the group. He says it's because of the sausage he ate for breakfast.
Because she was the smallest in the group (and not seen as a threat by the wolves) The Girl was able to go separately to another area to play with the puppies (they were large for puppies). Unfortunately, you can't see them in this photo because they are laying on the ground.


We didn't really want to leave Mission:Wolf but we still had a long journey ahead of us and we were running out of day.

That's the sanctuary sitting on the ridge on the left.
As we left, The Girl decided she wanted to volunteer there when she was older - especially if we moved to the area. Heck, I want to volunteer there, too!

Once we got home, we decided we would sponsor a wolf. The Girl chose Magpie this first year. I think Mr. LH wants to choose Zeab next time (he's the huge black wolf in the fence with us). To sponsor a wolf, go to the Mission: Wolf website. It doesn't cost much and you'll get a photo, a membership and a subscription to the Mission: Wolf newsletter.



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