DAY FIVE - Tuesday, July 4

A CHANGE IN LUCK

My knee is still sore this morning so I get going a little later than usual.

I see Rick at Confluence East. He tells me he has good signals for the Lamars, somewhere south. Hmm, this is a switch!

He goes up the hill while I remain at road level. He finds them from up there and very kindly describes to me where to look. I finally find three of the four on a sloping shoulder of Norris above the seedling forest.

At first I see two sitting and one moving. The moving one disappears over the crest of the hill. I can see collars on the other two so I know I have the alphas, sitting together on their haunches. Then another black wolf approaches from the west. The alphas bed down while this wolf crosses behind them and then disappears over the hill where the other one went.

Now the alphas get up and follow. I can see their tails wagging and I get glimpses of various backs and heads. Looks like theyíre having a rally.

Now the whole pack emerges a little lower on the crest of the hill. Yay! All four. 926 stops, looking off intently to the southwest. A narrow slice of sage is lit by the rising sun.

The four wolves set off along the spine of the slope heading southwest, looking full of pep, happy and bonded. Laurie pulls in behind me. Iím so glad she got here in time to see them.

There are two bison below them and both immediately lift their tails in alarm. The Lamars continue their journey passing up the bison and moving out across the open sage slopes, now drenched in early morning sun. 926 is in the lead with 949 trailing. I have all four in a line for about 5 minutes, then I lose them behind a hill. They reappear on a further ridge with 926 still intent on something. I pan ahead and see numerous pronghorn on the hills out there; and sure enough, they have two fawns.

I see the pronghorn spring away. The wolves are running. I lose them, find them; lose them again.

Doug is scoping from Picnic. When we lose them Rick radios Doug to see if he still has them. Doug confirms they have caught a pronghorn fawn, just that fast. I am not sorry I miss it; those babies are so cute. Itís hard enough to see the pronghorn mom in distress.

A little later I see two of the wolves again as they climb a further hill above a bison wallow. They go over the top and I lose them again.

Now there are none in view so I head to Picnic so I can give Doug his scope back. From here I find the hilltop with the bison wallow but do not find the wolves. Rick says they have finished their meal already and are now moving south. He says we will not likely see them from Picnic. Doug finds a grizzly way up on Specimen. I consider going to Hayden but decide against it. It feels really good to have finally seen wolves, especially my favorite pack, and to see all four of them is the best.

But itís only 7:30 and the action seems to be over already.

Laurie and I head to Dorothy. Maybe we will find the Junctions. Rick and Doug go on to Slough but none of us has any luck. I do find Dougís bear again, though.

We move to Coyote and from here we see a black bear, moving downhill through a meadow of yellow flowers.

Around 10:30 itís already hot so I head back east. I stop at Picnic to watch the bison herd here, wandering through the cottonwoods, walking through the sandy river bottoms, taking a drink, laying in the cool sand, messing with each other.

It really is gorgeous this time of year.

Back in Silver Gate I elevate my leg and have a nice long nap. Our internet is down. Something is not working between Earthlink (which we both use) and Laurieís wi-fi connection. Itís very weird and frustrating from a remote place like this.

At 6:45 I head out again. Itís a warm 75 degrees.

The sky is amazingly beautiful this evening. Itís a bit more overcast than usual so I guess thatís why.

Rick and I scope from Dorothys and talk about a bunch of things. We find two black bears Ė one of them is probably the same bear we saw this morning.

But it gets a little buggy and we see no wolves. Instead we have a really nice sunset. Mt. Norris glows a rosy pink and the river turns lavender.

On my way back I weave through 3 separate bison jams. I see white tail deer at Barronette then several mulies further on at Warm Creek.

The sunset turns peach then salmon. Better than 4th of July fireworks!

Today I saw: 2 black bears, 1 grizzly bears, bison, mule deer, white tail deer, elk, 4 wolves (Lamar pack 926, 949, Small Dot and Little T) and the spirits of Allison & Richard.

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