I always forget something on a trip to Yellowstone and this time itís milk! Luckily, Rick has some to spare. I pick it up on his front step. Itís just after 6AM and a cold 19 degrees.
My first stop is at the Soda Cone bison carcass. No wolves on it but a man tells me there were 3 grizzlies on it earlier. He says they have scattered now, although one is still in view. He shows me the area and I find him, right at the tree line.
I drive on to the west and end up at Slough for the next 3 hours. When I arrive, there are three Junction wolves bedded in view: 1047M, the un-collared black female & 996. Doug M is here this morning and Iím happy to chat with him. We keep thinking there may be another wolf bedded by the eastern trees, and when Laurie arrives that lump turns out to be 907.
1047 spends some time digging in the snow. Soon he comes up with something edible and begins to chew on it. Then heís finished, 907 goes to that spot and rolls. Next, 1047 pays a visit to the natal den and once he leaves, 969 emerges from the natal den and sits on the porch a while. It looks like she is surveying her kingdom. Then back inside she goes.
907 has a walkabout and 1047 follows her. I see a bit of muted affection between them (after all 969 canít see them!). She goes into the hollow by the bow loge and then climbs the hill to visit the natal den. Laurie and I are both pretty amazed by this, given the treatment she got from 969 yesterday. She sticks her head inside and we can just image 969 snapping at her. 1047 climbs up and when 907 moves to the western trees, he takes his turn and sticks his head in.
Then he follows 907 for a while. They double back and go into the hollow, then bed down near the eastern trees. The whole groups howls a bit and I wonder who they are howling for?
A while after this, they both get up and re-bed in the snow in front of the western trees.
Around 10AM, 907 gets up and trots down the hill to pay a visit to the sage den. We think the un-collared female is inside that den. She disappears inside for about 5 minutes, comes back out and re-beds in snow. She howls on and off and again I wonder who she is howling for?
The sun is out and it feels very good. Rick leaves for Missoula. He will see Jeremy there, and Story, too. Then heís going to an event with Nate in Colorado.
I take a break from Junction watching to head west, looking for bears and bison calves. I find neither, but I see a lot of beauty along the way.
At noon the day has warmed to 44 degrees. The sky has more sun than clouds. The un-collared black female takes a short walkabout, crossing the snow field, circling the hill above and below the sage den, then going back inside.
I am heading back east for a while. Just east of Dorothyís, I stop behind a car watching a coyote on the road, stalking something to the south. The coyote remains quite still, oblivious to the growing line of cars behind the first one.
Finally, the last car gets impatient and decides to drive around the five car jam. Of course, this spooks the coyote and he moves into the sage, not catching whatever it was after. I have a second coyote prowling the road at Confluence, but he moves aside.
I cook lemon chicken for dinner tonight and then Laurie comes out with me. I drive while she writes her note.
We see many bighorn on the eyebrow hill at HP.
The Junctions are in view again tonight but without much action. We have three males: 1047, 996 and the un-collared black. We believe at least two females are likely inside the dens: 969 in the natal den and the un-collared female in the sage den. We donít really know where 907 is, but the due date is now so perhaps she is sharing one of the dens or perhaps she went into the mid-cliff den which we cannot see.
Each of the males takes a trip to the natal den and peeks in. 996 is up there the longest. In fact, he goes all the way inside and when he comes back out, he shakes dust from his coat. Then he walks along the trail across the steep cliff, then climbs up, and beds down in dirt at the eastern edge.
We pack up fairly quickly and head back east. Rick has given us about 60 pages of his first draft and we both want to read it.
Today I saw: a grizzly bear, bison, coyotes, cranes, elk, geese, 6 of the 8 Junction Peak Pack wolves (969, 907, un-collared black female, 1047, 996 & the un-collared male) and the spirits of Allison and Richard