Brian is standing at the edge of the lake watching the water. He stands stock still with his bow in his hand, but he's not looking for a fish. Turns out he is sick of fish. Instead, he's looking for one of the birds—he calls them foolbirds—that live on the edge of the lake.
Sensing something, he's stopped what he was doing, and he's just holding still, listening and looking.
This has happened to him before—somehow his senses told him that he needed to pay attention, that something had changed—and it turned out that the bear was nearby with her cubs. Brian turns slowly, and up on the bank he sees a wolf watching him. Yowza.
But Brian doesn't panic—oh no. He sees the wolf as part of the woods and part of everything else, and he nods to it. The wolf watches him a little longer, then walks off into the woods, followed by three other wolves.
How's that for a cool encounter?
Brian has changed since the last time we've seen him. It's been forty-seven days since the crash, and forty-two days since he'd heard the plane go by overhead (at the end of the last chapter). After the plane had flown away, Brian gave in to hopelessness—he let the fire go out, didn't eat, even tried to kill himself by cutting his arm with the hatchet. He wasn't able to do it, though, and finally fell into a restless, troubled sleep.
When he woke up, dried blood on his arm from the cuts, he realized that he'd been changed by the experience of the plane flying overhead. "He was not the same and would never be again like he had been," the narrator tells us. "[H]e would not die, he would not let death in again" (13.17).
So Brian started again, trying to learn and to survive—but he made a lot of mistakes. He had spent several days making a bow and some arrows, only to have the bow splinter into pieces the first time he tried to use it. He made another bow from a different kind of wood, but still had no success catching fish. Finally, he figured out that he needed to adjust his aim slightly to compensate for the way light bends underwater. (Check out an explanation of that cool physics phenomenon.)
Once he figured this out, Brian was able to catch fish pretty easily. He caught at least twenty of them that first day, roasting them over the fire on a stick and eating until he was full.
When he went to sleep that night, he was hopeful again, although it was not a hope of being rescued. Just a hope in his ability to take care of himself.