DAY ONE - Friday, June 30


Well, Iíve been in Bozeman since June 13 but I arrived with an injured knee. It has taken me a long time to heal enough to even consider going to the Park so I cancelled my earlier trip.

Since then I have concentrated on my twice-a- week PT sessions and Iíve been faithfully doing my exercises. The swelling is down and Iím re-gaining my confidence. So now I am going to risk a short adventure.

The Prospect Pack denned at Slough and already raised their pups in view of a happy crowd, but just a week ago, the pups followed the adults to a new rendezvous site, in a spot, alas, where they cannot be seen. So I missed all that fun.

Itís 3:30PM and Iím leaving Bozeman. The temp is 75 and itís spectacularly beautiful. No clouds. Itís been cool and rainy for a week or so. I have Sirius Radio Ė All Day Beatles on my car. Itís a Ford Escape which sounds big but is somewhat comparable to a Rav 4. This one has a sunroof which is nice.

I have good weather over Bozeman pass. It is unusually crowded but I guess ďtis the seasonĒ. The lush green I saw in my early days here is already turning brown under the baking sun.

A ways past Livingston, I stop at one of the fishing access pullouts and lie down in the back for 15 minutes with my leg elevated. Iím doing this more out of habit than need. It took a very long time to get the swelling down so I donít want it to puff back up again.

At 5:45 I make it through the arch, greeted by several elk. After my visit with Allison I call Laurie in SG. She and Dan are about to head out and will meet me in the Lamar.

Summer has arrived in Mammoth. Itís nice to see how sleek and healthy the elk look, bedded with their spotted calves on the medians. People are stopped everywhere, taking pictures of elk them, getting too close.

I am glad to finally be here and I hope my knee responds to Yellowstoneís restorative ability.

Mammoth is really green. The grass looks so good I could eat it myself! I here meadowlarks trilling all over, making me smile. I have a grouse in the road just past the high bridge.

I stop at Blacktail Ponds. Hey, I know that guy! Itís Bob Landis pointing his camera uphill at a raven nest across from the pullout. We have a nice visit, catching up and complaining about our various ailments!

I love seeing the hillsides throughout the Blacktail full of ďButter & EggsĒ, probably my favorite flower here after wild Iris and Indian paintbrush. And lupine is everywhere, and daisies, and sticky geranium.

I have a coyote trotting down the road at the end of the Six Mile drive and a pronghorn runs down the hill and across the road in front of me at Boulder.

I stop at Slough and drive down to the first low pullout to scope around the den area just in case. No one else here! I hear over my radio that Laurie & Kathie are stuck in a bison jam in Lamar.

I drive on and meet them at Trash Can. We catch up a bit while Dan scopes from up on the hill. The Junctions were seen here earlier today. I would like to join Dan up there but I donít think I should do any climbing yet. Walking or standing is fine, though, so we scan the landscape towards Chalcedony fan. But no luck.

We drive on to Confluence. Laurie & I stay in the pullout while Rick & Kathie climb the hill. They see the head of one bedded black from that vantage point but itís in such deep grass that we canít see it from road level.

Chloe & Becky & Dorothy & Linda are scoping from Exclosure. They can see the area where the wolves are, and they do see a head or a pair of ears every once in a while.

I drive over to say hi to them but Iím still a bit reticent about climbing any hills. Chloe comes down to me and very kindly carries my scope up to a little nub of a hill in hopes it will give me enough height to see them. I find elk out there but no wolves.

Chloe reports that she and Becky have had a 3 dog day and found some pikaís on top of that!

I donít stay very long. I still have a bit of unpacking to do and it takes longer when you have to be careful about how you move. I thank my friends for their help and head east.

Soda Butte creek is quite flooded and it looks great.

When I get all my stuff into Laurieís and have settled down to have a yak, Dan gets some dreadful news. Our dear wolf-watching friend, Richard Brown from Utah, has died very unexpectedly. His kids found him when he did not respond to their calls. Probably a heart attack or maybe an aneurism?

Oh, itís so sad. What a great guy he was. We all enjoyed his company so much, and he was a great spotter, very generous and kind. Boy, life is so unpredictable. He will be missed.

Itís a sad way to end the day but Iím grateful for the friends I have and to be able to share Yellowstone with them.

Today I saw: bison, a coyote, elk, a grouse, pronghorn and the spirits of both Allison and Richard.

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