Although I have been visiting Yellowstone during the Christmas holidays for many years, this trip was unusual in several ways.

First, my dear friend Laurie had heart surgery in November in which drastic complications developed, leaving her under sedation for a week. The doctors saved her life but for several days she did not have normal circulation in her fingers and toes. Luckily, her heart is fine and she is now mostly recovered and back home in San Diego, but she will lose the tips of three fingers and parts of a few toes.

I saw her in early December and she was then on the road back to recovery. I know she is disappointed about missing this trip but itís just too soon. It remains to be seen how tolerant she will be of cold weather but I am hopeful she will get back to normal with the benefit of time.

The second thing is that the wolf community has lost another of our beloved Lamar wolves, 926F. The daughter of the 06 and great grand-daughter of 21 & 42 was shot, legally but unethically, just after Thanksgiving, in Silver Gate, barely a mile outside the Park.

Laurie was in the hospital when it happened, and for those of us who love Laurie and 926 it was especially hard news. Numerous articles have been written about this unique wolf, but I especially like Rickís memorial, which I link here:

The third thing is that the Grima Wormtongue administration has been neither able nor willing to resolve certain government matters sufficiently to prevent a partial shutdown. The Park is open, with greatly reduced staff and facilities, and all scientific activity curtailed.

So, my preparations are colored by these three concerns. I always find healing in Yellowstone so I still go. And I enjoy searching for and watching wolves with the friends Iíve made there, but I do admit, the mood this time is a bit melancholy.

Laurie warned me before I left to remember that I would have no telemetry to rely on this trip. Rick retired in March; the Park partially replaced him with Lizzie, but with the partial shutdown, the Wolf Project cannot function normally.

So I knew Iíd have to find wolves the old fashioned way, the way the bear guys do, by looking for them, in the cold, with as many eyes as possible and in as many places as possible.


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