He doubled back on his steps, making a push toward camp; then the wolves attacked, probably biting his heels and calves first. Carnegie apparently fell for a moment, fought them, then regained his feet and ran.
Beneath the snow, the spongy mix of peat and moss the locals called muskeg broke away under his feet, making progress difficult. The snow in a rough way recorded the story that evening, a testament to human will: Carnegie fell and rose again. Fell and rose again. Fell and rose again.
Fell and rose again.
"See these berries?" Eikel bent down and plucked one. He pinched it between thumb and forefinger, and a shock of red fluid dribbled out. Redness of another sort "was everywhere, on the snow" that evening, he said. "I couldn't tell what I was looking at."
Then his flashlight swept across something just below the path, among the trees.
Eikel had recoiled and told the other two men, "Don't look."
A short while later, as Eikel led police to the scene, he saw reflective eyes hovering in the dark. When the search party built a large bonfire, wolves howled and the men fired shotgun blasts into the air, to drive the animals away.
The government granted temporary license to shoot wolves around the camp, and within a day and a half a worker had shot two. A necropsy revealed what seemed to be human hair and "plasticised nylon" in the digestive tract of the wolves. Two years later a government inquest officially ruled that wolves had killed Kenton Carnegie.
What this means beyond the obvious symbolism is unclear, but it is a good place to stop and think about the return of animals into a world that is increasingly too small for them.
Geist has thought about that subject a lot. Until recently, he says, "I was very much of the opinion that wolves were a fairly harmless group of predators." But then the wolf population exploded. "When I walk my dog now [on Vancouver Island, B.C.], I carry a gun," he says. "My wife has been threatened by wolves twice."