We head out around 7:15 at first light. We’ve got 21 degrees with a partial moon and a few stars. A fair amount of snow fell overnight, perhaps 2 more inches.
The gravel road down to 89 is fine, but when we get to the highway I am surprised to see it has not really been plowed. It’s windy, so a lot of snow has already blown off but that makes the pavement uneven and fairly treacherous. I don’t feel comfortable going over 40 so I don’t.
Larry & Linda and I have our radios on. Deer are plentiful in this area and the swirly snow makes it very hard to see them, so I’m glad that Larry & Linda are ahead of me. There is more traffic in the opposite lane than I expected, and each one kicks up snow as it passes. We spot numerous deer but thankfully they stay on their side of the road. It’s a nerve-wracking drive for me, and I’m very relieved when we finally get to Gardiner.
We stop for gas and then head up to the corrals where I show them where to look. But we find nothing, not even the elk. I want to head east but Larry and Linda decide to try the Jardine road.
The wind makes scoping pretty hard today
I stop at the High Bridge and try one more time. I find the elk herd but still no wolves nor any sign of a carcass.
Eventually move on to the Children’s Fire Trail. I see Rick here so we scope together for a while, talking about various things. He tells me that #1118 was seen from Dorothy’s again this morning, still on the old bison carcass.
I learn that Jort discovered a dead wolf last evening, just off the road in the Elk Creek area. The Park Service came to pick it up. It seems to be a pup, quite possibly one of the Wapitis. There were no obvious wolf-inflicted injuries so it is possible the animal was struck by a car.
I move further east. As I near Crystal pullout I see Kara, so I pull in to tell her of my so-far-wolfless day. She says “they’re bedded”. I say “who’s bedded?” She says “Junctions”
Apparently, Bob found them this morning. I guess Rick forgot to tell me this!
Kara says they were seen moving up hill towards the western pass (west of the den cliff) and all 11 are now bedded on two rocky, snow covered knobs.
She very kindly puts my scope on them from here. I see 1047 stand up and re-bed. I tell her I’m going to move to the Slough lot for a slightly closer look. She comes with me and we find them again. This time I see at least four others, two blacks and two grays.
There are various bull elk in the area, as well. I scope here for over an hour but there is very little movement, just up, turn around, down. Still, I manage to show several visitors their first wolf. Now we head east to Dorothy’s.
Stalwart #1118 is still here, feeding voraciously at the old bison carcass. I sometimes think I see her put a little weight on her leg but that may be wishful thinking on my part. I see her cleverly attempt to torque off a leg bone. She twists and twists and it finally works.
She sits immediately and begins to chew.
Later, on our drive east Kara and I see 7 moose at Round Prairie. A cow and calf are visible from the western pullout; three more cows are visible if you walk along the road to the west and peek through the trees, and the last two, a bull and cow, are visible quite close to the road between the two pullouts. Photographers are very happy.
We drive on to Pebble and Kara shows me the place up on Thunderer where she saw a cougar with kittens earlier on this trip. We do not see any cats today but instead she finds 6 mountain goats! After a while I decide to head in early because I’m cooking tonight.
Between Moose Meadow & Baronette I notice several photographers walking along the road, looking north. I think they are hoping for moose but I find out later that several people had seen the Lamars, at least three of them, including a pup. That’s a sighting I’m sorry to have missed.
Today I saw: bison, coyotes, mule deer, elk, 6 mountain goats, 7 moose, 6 wolves, (including #1118F of the Mollies and 5 of 11 Junctions, including #1047) and the spirits of Allison & Richard.