I’m out early at 6:20 and find it snowing lightly; Rick is just leaving. The road is slightly slushy.
I stop at Confluence. Rick is already up on the hill – he has the Lamar Canyons heading south in the snow-fog. He tells me they are about to go out of sight so I climb up as quickly as I can. Through his scope I see 6 black ghostly shapes for a split second.
By the time I get my own scope up they are lost in the white out.
Rick saw all eight, I only saw six (all the black ones!)
Some folks had driven to Trash Can and were able to see them from there for a little while. It was a real early-bird sighting today.
The snow is quite wet; it’s almost rain. Finally at 8:30 it stops and the sun comes out. Laurie and Kathie and I scope from many places but find nothing.
Dusty calls from Hellroaring. He saw two grays going east. We drive that way but do not find anything. Calvin and Lynette call from Swan Lake Flats. They have four 8 Mile wolves in view from there.
It's a long way but I am up for it. At first Laurie & I stop to scope from Elk Creek to try to find Dusty’s grays. We reason that they could be coming through the Junction Lake area. We don't find them but I notice the high peaks are picking up a nice new dusting of snow.
Just as we are passing Liberty Cone in Mammoth, Laurie relays that Calvin & Lynette have called to say their wolves are now out of sight. Arggh! And of course, then we get another message that the Lamars made a surprise return, reappearing in the rendezvous back east. Those who remained in Lamar were able to watch them playing. Arrghh!
We get another report from Dusty at Lower Hellroaring. This time he has both grays and blacks chasing elk far west of Hellroaring. There is still a lot of fog, and by the time we reach Dusty, his wolves have disappeared right into it!
We get all the way to Slough only to be told the Lamars are now out of sight – they are off Cache way again. Aiii!!!
It’s just one of those days!
We go back to Lower Hellroaring to scope for a while. Calvin & Lynette join us, finding nothing, and then we all head east again.
Finally around 11 AM Calvin finds the Junction wolves to the north between Curve and Boulder. Thank you, Calvin! I set up below Boulder hill and watch them walking in the rocks above the bison ford.
The weather remains unsettled, a bit of misty rain and a bit of wind.
I am watching Junctions, five of them; two blacks and three grays. Laurie sees two more grays for a count of 7. They are very hard to show people because they are far way and mostly bedded. They behave as though they have a carcass nearby; they look fit and full. I watch them walk and sniff and explore, along with lots of bedding.
The collars are 907F (GPS collar), 870F (alpha) and 890M (alpha). I’m not sure which others were there.
A little after 1PM it starts grappling heavily. Laurie, Kathie and I head east.
They both head in while I brave the wind on Trash Can hill a while, looking in the r-v and out Cache way. I see no wolves – only bison, and a lone bald eagle in a tree.
I drive back west and set up at Curve, find the Junctions again and watch them for the next 3 hours. At one point 870F comes down the rocks to where 890M was bedded under a tree. She sits next to him with her head resting on him, which looks to me like a lovely, affectionate gesture. Then she gets up and moves east, joining two other grays there. My count is now 9 wolves. Yay!
I also see two of the blacks come down to pay homage to 890M.
So, after a “just missed ‘em” morning, I end up getting a nice long wolf sighting, although a not particularly exciting one. And once the grapple stops the evening becomes quite pleasant. We are joined by two friendly visitors from Spain whom we help to see their first wild wolves ever.
At 6:40 the sky is fully clear and I head back to Silver Gate.
Today I saw: bison, a bald eagle, elk, 15 wolves (6 from Lamar and 9 from Junction Butte) and the spirit of Allison.