Good morning. Itís 47 degrees at 5:03AM
The Silver Gate birdies are singing like crazy cakes.
My first stop this morning is at Trash Can. Rick has found two black wolves leaving the carcass area and traveling west. I pick them up right at the western foothill (where I saw them last night). From here I continue to follow them quite a while. One is 1048 and the other is the un-collared black male.
Rick believes they are headed back to their pups in Little America. He also thinks the other two we saw last night probably left already and might be seen in the Slough area by those looking from there.
When the wolves move out of range, I pack up and head to the Ranch, where I join Doug M. I find the two wolves again, just above Amethyst bench.
When they go out of view for a bit, Doug scopes elsewhere and finds three bears; a grizzly with a yearling cub way up high, and a black bear above and to the east of the wolves.
The wolves appear again and we follow them across the drainage. Then they start to climb, traveling across Jasper Bench toward Divide Ridge. But I lose them again near the back of the Bench. They are likely heading to the Crystal drainage, so I pack up again and drive to Slough.
A lot of us set up right along the road south of the lot, and another group goes to Crystal. We all scope to the south, hoping to be the first to spot the Junctions again.
Someone at Crystal finds 1048M but the un-collared male is no longer with him. Doug locates him first in our group and then I find him, standing broadside right at the edge of the thick aspen forest just east of Crystal creek.
After this brief stop he moves on again. He is continuing steadily west, and wolves can just eat up the miles. So I pack up and drive on to another pullout with a bit of a hill that offers a wider view. The road is now lined with eager people, clumps of cars in each pullout, all following the wolf. He wants to cross the road to bring his stomach-full of bison meat back to the den (on the flip side of Momís ridge.)
But I donít think he will succeed this morning. Itís 8AM, a beautiful day with full sun, and everyone is getting a good view of this very handsome black wolf.
I move again and park near Boulder Pond (still following Doug). As we wait for 1048 to appear again, we hike up a hill on the north side to gain some elevation. Aha! There he is, still on the south side of the road, being harassed by a single coyote. Another coyote, perhaps his mate, bark-howls from the south side. We know there is a coyote den north of the pond, and if the pups hear this warning call, they will hunker down inside the den instead of coming out to play.
Once 1048 moves out of sight into the trees, we do turn our scopes to the north, looking for the coyote den. Instead we find three marmots, one adult and two babies.
From this spot you can see a second pond to the east of the Peregrine Hills. We see a great blue heron there, and several pronghorn travel the hills beyond it. And I hear the delightful sound of a yellow headed blackbird somewhere near that pond, as well.
1048 has disappeared into the cool of the forest, where he will likely bed a while, waiting for the crowd to disperse. Then he may sneak across the road.
Itís 63 degrees at 9:30 and weíve had a nice long wolf sighting. So Dorothy and I decide to celebrate with Roosevelt breakfast.
After a good meal in that lovely room, we head up Antelope. But itís grown hotter than I expected and we see only bedded elk and bison.
On our way down we stop to take a look at the Peregrine nest. We find four chicks sitting in blazing hot sun, trying to scoot into the meager slice of shade on this ridiculously narrow cliff. Their beaks are open and they are all panting. I feel so bad for them. We catch a glimpse of a parent bird soaring above the canyon but we never see it land on the ledge.
We step back to let others take their turn, and soon head east. Itís nap time! Just past Hitching Post I slow down to see 6 hikers bunched at the edge of the Lamar River, trying to stay out of the way of a bull bison who has commandeered their trail. If Footbridge pullout were open I might stop to see how it turns out, but as it is, I trust the bull bison to move eventually and let them continue in peace.
I arrive to the cool shade of Silver Gate and take a nice long nap.
Itís still warm at 7PM, my car says 76!
Dorothy and I plan to meet at Trash Can Hill in hopes of seeing Junction or Lamar wolves on the carcass.
As I pass the Footbridge, I notice a bull bison, perhaps the same one who forced the hikers to detour, making the most of the absence of people (and cars) in this gravel-filled lot, rubbing his wooly neck against the sturdy log railing. It must feel so good!
Instead of Trash Can, Dorothy and I try Exclosure hill. We do find the carcass area, although the landmarks are quite different from here. We find a lone eagle in the area, but surprisingly no bears and no wolves.
Around 9 we climb down and go back to our cars. We briefly consider driving further west, but when we see a long line of stopped cars in both directions due to bison in the road, we think better of that idea.
Dorothy heads to Round Prairie to make a call to Ted while I stop to scope from Hitching Post in a quest to find Lamar puppies. I know itís still fairly early for them to appear, and I know their den is higher on the hillside than usual, but hope still springs eternal.
Instead of pups, though, I find an unlikely pair, traveling one behind the other on a narrow trail skirting the eyebrow hill: a pronghorn and a mule deer. It almost looks like the deer is just not paying attention Ė or perhaps I am witnessing a rare inter-species friendship.
But they disappear into the forest, and I never learn any more about it.
I continue on through Lamar, enjoying the evening bird sounds and the smell of sage. The air is cool and gorgeous. Itís just a beautiful night.
Today I saw: 1 black bear, 2 grizzlies (including a yearling cub), bison, coyotes, mule deer, elk, a great blue heron, 3 marmots (including two babies), pelicans, pronghorn, ground squirrels, 2 wolves from the Junction pack (1048 and the un-collared male) and the spirits of Allison and Richard.