As Iím approaching Baronette this morning in the still-dark, a bull bison surprises me, standing in the road. I slam on the breaks and manage to avoid disaster. Whew! That was close.
By the time I get to Confluence it is light and by the time I get to Hubbard I have wolves in view. Itís the Junctions, three of them, who graciously provide me with a proper sendoff this morning. They are just east of the old bison carcass. Itís overcast and cool today which is a nice switch from yesterdayís heat.
I set up at Hubbard hill. Itís the Limper, 1047M and 996M. Limper flirts with both males but clearly likes 996 best. They are mostly bedded but easy to see since they are all black. I share my scope with a really nice couple who end up staying longer than most visitors. They are hikers and wolf advocates from Colorado. They seem eager to learn all about these wolves.
Laurie joins us and gives a belated report that the orphaned calf was killed last night. I can see the dead cow from here, but nothing remains of the calf, poor thing. My suspicion is that these Junctions put it out of its misery.
While the wolves are bedded I scan for other critters and find a bunch of sheep up on Amethyst. Behind us on the northern hills is a bison herd, widely scattered and roaming slowly east and across the road to the south. A couple big bulls approach close enough to scare us into heading to our cars for safety.
Once they are gone, I resume my vigil watching sleeping wolves. But the time has come for my departure. I leave Laurie with the nice couple for company and head west.
I have two bear jams on the way. The first is at Curve for a lone male black bear. He is just going about his business, ambling across the rolling hills to the south. The second is just west of Lower Hellroaring. This one is problematic because the bear is in a tangle of bushes just off the road and cars are stopped on a curve. People are taking photos through their open windows as they inch past, and they are not thinking about cars coming around the corner behind them.
I move on and each time I see a car approaching I wave them down.
When I get close to Mammoth I start seeing hitchhikers again; in fact, 3 sets in less than a mile. Tis the season!
I get back to Bozeman easy peasy and rest my knee. And so glad I went!
Today I saw: 2 black bears, bison, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, 3 Junction wolves (996, 1047 and the Limping female yearling) and the spirits of Allison and Richard.