DAY FOUR - Friday, October 19

MORNING WITH THE PUPS


I head out on my last day at 6:42. Itís a normal, tolerable 27 degrees.

As I drive in I figure I will climb Trash Can Hill again, but then I see Rick stop at Geriatric, so I pull over and join him there instead. Laurie does too.

For a while we are hope-scoping but soon Rick finds the three pups out in the R-V. We end up watching them all morning.

Over the last month or so, they have developed a habit of hanging out in the R-V while the adults go hunting (just like the Druids and Lamars always did). The pups are not yet very helpful to the adults so itís probably for the best for them to stay behind. They seem to enjoy each otherís company a good deal. The gray is so beautiful. Laurie says heís a male. Of the two blacks, one is female, the other male. They are a joy to watch.

After a while, four cow elk and a bull cross through the sage, similar to the group last night. The pups start to chase them! Itís partly charming and partly comical, because they really donít have a chance against these animals. They are very game, though, with the over-sized confidence of youth. The bull barely breaks a trot to avoid them. We cheer them on but they give up pretty soon and start moving west.

Once they are out of sight from here, we go back to our cars and move to Trash Can Hill, where we spend the rest of the morning. The three pups put on a wonderful show. The hill is packed with eager visitors who love this relatively close look at adolescent wolf pups.

They entertain themselves in an area of yellow grass, exploring, playing; tussling with a stick or a piece of hide.

They remind me as bored teenagers, restlessly moving about, looking for something interesting to do. They mouse a bit and at one point, seem to get an idea to visit an old bison carcass (from the summer). Once they get there, they find enough bones and hide to amuse them for a while.

They take several breaks for howl sessions which are so delightful to hear. Their voices are still high-pitched.

We notice that the beautiful gray is frequently the leader but the morning provides evidence that all three have guts and gumption. Each one takes a turn being chased and knocked to the ground and overall seem to be fairly equal.

At one point, they set off west with a sense of purpose. Laurie suspects they are scent trailing the adults. They offer even closer views during this period; people can readily watch their progress with the naked eye.

We watch them head up Amethyst Bench, aiming towards Jasper.

At this point I run out of time and begin to say my goodbyes.

Itís warmed up to 33 at 10:30AM when I head out.

I see a single moose at Elk Creek on the north side of the road, well, just her head. Sheís in a ditch or a depression of some sort. And I have pronghorn at the North Entrance.

Some changes I notice on this trip Ė there is new asphalt through the Blacktail and the Sinclair station in Gardiner is gone!

Today I saw: bison, elk, a moose, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, 3 Junction pups and the spirits of Allison and Richard.

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