A.T.T.A.C.K. Big Bad Wolves IV

By Duane Miles

When we last left Chris Morgenroth, he had given up efforts to scare away a pair of advancing wolves and retreated up a tree...


As Chris straddled a cedar snag on Forest Service land in the Elwha Valley in 1916, he apprehensively looked down some 15 feet on a pair of hungry wolves eyeing him intently at its base. The largest of the two sat directly below while the other sat over 10 feet beyond. Both remained silent, just panting in the manner typical of such animals.


Chris noticed something odd about the large male. He had an odd snarl appearance, eyes fixed only on the left side of his face. This strange facial feature constantly revealed this creature’s left row of fearsome teeth. This observation heightened Chris’ safety concern as he dug his fingers more deeply into the snag’s rotten surface.


Reasoning that a co-worker should by now be returning to this area, Chris began to shout his name at various intervals. After a half-hour or so, Chris was  certain Lee had taken one of the other routes back to base camp at Humes Ranch. Chris fell silent as he contemplated his next move. He knew he couldn’t hang on much longer. His gripping exertion was causing severe cramping in his arms and legs.


Apparently due to Chris’ silence, the large male stood up and began to pace back and forth, staying close to the snag. Chris remembered the two small rocks he had in a pants pocket. Somehow he was able to retrieve them without losing his grip on the cedar.


This new movement froze the large critter below. Taking careful aim, Chris threw a perfect strike to the forehead of this huge canine. With only a muffled howl, the male wolf retreated toward his mate several feet. Here, he looked back.


Chris’ next throw failed to connect. With those weapons gone, Chris resorted to tossing chunks of rotten bark. Soon, the two wolves were standing side by side, staring at Chris, some 20 feet away.


Seeing those two vicious wolves simply sitting quietly on their haunches some 20 feet away was encouraging to Chris Morgenroth.


He began to think that finally there just might be a chance for a getaway.


Though they were watching, he had to find out if it was merely curiosity.


So slowly he began to release his death grip on that cedar snag and slide back to ground level.


His feet firmly under him again, he backed down the Forest Service trail. As he did, he constantly faced those potential mankillers.


A minute passed. So far, so good; they weren’t moving.


Chris’ hopes were heightened even more as he continued on without being pursued. But this optimism was soon slain.


The wolves suddenly stood up and began to follow Chris. Ignoring the trail, they stayed along the open timbered side just above it.


Chris found his voice again and began shouting at these animals as he retreated. These creatures had made it clear they were not about to abandon the hunt.


Chris needed to go to plan B or that was it.


In the meantime, retreating seemed as good idea as any.


Along the way, Chris was able to acquire some weapons. This time, not only a softball-sized rock, but a short stick and a hefty club.


His security now bolstered by his weapons, he went into full retreat as he sprinted for about a quarter-mile.


But as he shot back occasional glances, it became evident that with seemingly effortless lopes, these deadly slayers were closing the gap. They were now less than 70 feet behind.


Despite his weapons, it was obvious that he was still in grave danger.


As things now stood, Chris knew that there would be no hope of outrunning these beasts. He would have to find another tree to climb or stand and fight.


Spotting a large fir tree, he backed up against it and cut loose with the loudest shout his frightened lungs could muster.


Yes, he was a bit scared.


The alpha female skidded to a stop at 50 feet. Her huge mate did not.


Though most of you probably would like to charge ahead, let’s skid this story to a temporary halt for another footnote from “Thus Far.”


Be advised that what you are about to read just might be considered merely a rumor by the majority of longtime Forks residents. Therefore, many of you might object to reading any further for ethical reasons. But for those of you who are still with me, I’ll continue.


Dr. Leibold’s clinic stood on the southwest corner of the Pay & Save grocery store’s parking lot in days gone by. As far back as I can remember and up into my early adulthood, the clinic sat at that location (C Street and Forks Avenue.)


As I’ve alluded to in earlier editions, the doctor in residence was Edwin F. Leibold, M.D.  Stan Fouts described him as “crude, but good.”


The information I am about to share does come from two reliable sources: Dave Richmond and Howard Sarnowski.


It was rumored that Dr. Leibold came to Forks after being an Army doctor for a number of years. This also may be a rumor — I’m not really sure of its truth, either.


Nevertheless, while in Forks, he was noted for his roughness and bluntness (not necessarily characteristic of Army doctors).


Many years ago, when my brother Ellery was setting chokers, he went to Leibold with a damaged fingertip.


When Leibold saw that black and blue fingernail — or what remained of it — he didn’t hesitate in taking swift action. Reaching into a nearby cabinet, he produced a surgical instrument which closely resembled what a mechanic would call pliers.


Looking Ellery in the eye, the doc simply said, “This might hurt.”


He then grabbed what was left of that nail, and the good doc ripped it from the finger.


A scream welled up in my brother’s throat. He was a tough logger. He managed to suppress it, or so he now says.


But what happened next — once again without the hint of anesthesia — did cause more than a slight peep. For the doctor’s next move was to take what looked like a miniature wire brush and clean the now-raw meat of that exposed fingertip, causing a much different response from before.


After my brother left that clinic, it was said that high-pitched echoes could be heard bouncing from those walls for weeks.


Personally, I don’t believe the part about the echoes. My brother was too tough for that. As for me, that’s just how I would have reacted.


This portion of the footnote ends short of its best part (you’ll have to pick up the book for that.)
Until then, may light for your feet guide you on the path of life until we meet again.
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