DAY SEVEN - Saturday, December 29

FALSE ALARM

Iím out a little late due to packing up. Itís my last morning.

Itís 10 degrees at 7:15. We got a bit of light, powdery snow overnight but the roads are good.

At Footbridge I see the same two moose, even closer than yesterday; right in front of the pullout.

But visibility begins to fail as a snow squall comes in. I head to Dorothyís. #1118 is apparently out there but impossible to see until the snow lets up.

Kara says sheís in a slightly different, closer to the trees, than she was yesterday. Finally the veil lifts and I get enough of a glimpse to confirm my first wolf of the day!

While I was waiting, I found a lone coyote in the flats, so I only need a fox to complete the day. Then the radio crackles with wolf news. Black wolves from Boulder.

I head there and see three more coyotes along the way.

But by the time I get to Straightaway, I can tell something is wrong. There are scopers at Lamar Canyon West, Slough, Crystal and Aspen. No one sees anything. The snow has lifted quite a bit and black wolves on snow should be easy enough to find, especially if they were moving.

Rick talks to the unit who called in the sighting, a new guide. In the area that is pointed out he finds three coyotes. Hmmm.

Sightings have been few and far between this trip, and people are pretty eager to see a wolf, so this apparent mistake is quite unfortunate. Without telemetry, we really are at a disadvantage. I remember Laurieís warning.

Of course, being in Yellowstone at all is a reward in itself. Itís my last day, and edging towards 10AM, so I begin to say my goodbyes.

Soon Iím heading west.

The snow returns for my drive through Blacktail and Iíve been given some fairly dire warnings about the weather to the west, so I do not stop to scope as I usually do on my way out.

The sky clears a bit when I reach the High Bridge and I have easy going all through Mammoth. Good thing, because there are bighorn all over the road in Gardiner canyon!

For the first time in a very long while, I have a rough drive on 89 heading to Livingston. Blowing snow makes temporary white outs as each car passes me going east. I slow down and try to make it easy for cars to pass me, but itís kind of nerve wracking.

Finally, around Emmigrant, the sky begins to clear. But the wind picks up and I find that, as expected the first entrance to 90 is closed. This puts me on the frontage road. Itís pretty bad, very uneven and bad visibility, so about half way I decide Iíll be better off on the highway itself.

As I enter the highway, for once the drivers seem to be using sense, slowing down. Itís a pretty tricky drive and I have to talk to myself the whole way to stay calm, but I finally make it back to the ease of Bozeman.

Today I saw: bison, coyotes, elk, a fox, 2 moose, bighorn sheep, 1 wolf (1118 of the Mollies) and the spirits of Allison and Richard

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