My day starts a little late at 6:30. Itís 28 degrees.
My first stop is at Picnic where I see Billís car. He has a grizzly in the old Druid R-V, then tells me he thinks there might be two bears there. Hmmm. I never see two but with his help I finally find one and watch that bear until he heads into the trees.
Rick stops to say he has Junction signals, and that we should probably be looking where we lost them yesterday. Several of us are already at Dorothyís; I join Laurie & Pauline at the Ranch. I tell them about the bears Bill found but canít manage to find them again. Laurie & I scope to the south for Junctions while Pauline looks for the grizzly in the R-V.
Instead she finds the wolves!
Itís the Junctions. They are close to the Druidís R-V. I see lots of tails wagging. They seem to be in a ďscrumĒ. The sage is high so I canít see their full bodies, just their backs, ears and tails.
We drive east to Trash Can and climb the hill.
For the next two hours we watch the Junctions. Turns out, they have a carcass near the R-V, and itís likely that the bears Bill saw were on it when he first saw them.
The wolves come and go from the carcass, and every once in a while one of them charges in, flushing the birds out in an explosion of black wings. They mill around the eastern & western foothills and I see some flirting behavior between the Limper and 996.
There is now a second limping black female in the pack. A yearling (one of the pups I saw the pack raise last year). Who knows where she has been all this time, but she is with the pack now.
Alpha 969 moves away and beds by herself. One by one the rest of them bed down in the yellow grass. A curious coyote arrives from the west but thinks twice and wisely keeps his distance. He seems to calculate that the odds are against him and disappears quickly.
Then something spooks the wolves and they move out of the yellow grass back towards the trees. 969 eventually sets off to the west and climbs the hill with the spring, heading up towards the treeline. Once she is out of sight, the others reluctantly follow her.
For a while, a few remain on the foothills and treat us to a nice howl. But soon they give in to alpha pressure and follow 969ís trail up into the trees.
I hear Kathie talking about a hike to the Slough first meadow. Iíve been up there. Itís beautiful but I think the initial climb might be a little too strenuous for my knee, plus I want to show Laurie & Pauline the beaver dams. When I pose that alternative, they readily agree.
We drive to Lamar Bridge and park there. This makes for a slightly shorter route so we get to explore them more fully than I did yesterday. The ponds are much closer to the road than I thought. We do see some bison in the area but we are able to avoid them.
Across from one of the lodges is a tall pole with a camouflaged camera on top. Next time I see Doug Smith I need to ask him about these dams.
The dams are just amazing to see. Beavers rock!
We take a slightly different route back to the cars and come upon a badger defending its den. We stop and admire him/her for a while, careful not to worry it. After we take a few photos, we give it a wide berth and continue on. What a beautiful animal!
Now we head back to Silver Gate. Kim & Joyce are joining us for dinner tonight.
I stop at Trash Can and find two of the Junctions still in view, a black & a gray. Laurie stops at Hitching Post to talk with Bill and can see the Junctions from there as well.
I stop once again at Barronette and find 4 goats; two are bedded and two grazing in that amazing habitat.
Dinner is great!
Today I saw: 1 grizzly bear, bison, 1 coyote, elk, 4 mountain goats, 8 wolves (all the Junctions) and the spirits of Allison and Richard