My last day starts with me scraping a light frost from the car.
Alas, there are no signals in Lamar, so we continue west. My first stop is at Straightaway where I join a crowd already here. The Junctions are in view on the south side of the road.
Jan and Bill are here so I scope with them. At first I see the wolves bedded near some rocks in a patch of forest. It looks like they may have gotten a meal last night and are now just rousing themselves from their post feeding nap.
They head east, slowly, and we all get a nice long look at them. There are 10 total. Some of them start trending downhill as if they want to cross, but there are now cars lining all the pullouts so they give up and head back west and slightly upslope.
At one point they stop on the big ski slope hill – the one with the trail down the middle (west of Specimen trail). Half of them are east of it and half are west but they are all close enough for me to have 10 wolves in my scope at once. I try to take a photo but it doesn’t work.
I learn that Annie has to have a kidney removed. Actually it's a relief to me that it's something fairly simple.
Nate joins us and I see him talking with Rick again.
I stay on 890 to try to get to know him. He has a pale white bar on his chest like 302. He carries his tail regularly, not straight out or high like 21 did. I notice, though, that the un-collared male yearling DOES carry his tail high (like 21). His black tip tail has a white spot next to it, which makes the black tip stand out all the more. He is a very dark gray. The gray pups are similarly dark like he is. The two black pups very dark, very handsome.
Un-collared “Swoosh” is lightest, very light on her shoulders. For whatever reason, I did not focus on 870F very much this time so my knowledge of her has not increased.
I am so happy to have this nice, old-fashioned wolf sighting, that finally ends close to 11AM when we lose them in the trees.
The timing is perfect as many of us have agreed to accompany Mark Cooke when he visits with the Montana Commissioners just outside the Park at noon. Apparently today is a day in which all nine men who make the rules for the wolf hunt are available to meet their constituents. They plan to gather in a particular spot and today the spot is a campground just north of Gardiner.
When we arrive I see a half-dozen other local folks are here, too. The commissioners do not seem particularly friendly or open; they seem skittish and defensive to me, and honestly, I feel like I am intruding on their day, especially since I am not yet a full time Montana resident. But it seems that several of them are familar with the local folks, so when I see that, I feel a bit less of an intruder.
I still dont feel particularly comfortable so I dont think I make any kind of impression. I do learn that they have meetings in Bozeman which are open to the public so I decide to start attending those in order to get to know them better.
Once the meeting is over, I make my goodbyes– until Christmas – and set off back to Bozeman.
Today I saw: bison, elk, mule deer, 10 wolves (all Junction Butte) and the spirit of Allison.