DAY TWO - Sunday, June 16

A FULL DAY

Oh boy, Iím not yet used to these super early mornings!

Iím out at 4:50AM, in a very pleasant 39 degrees. The sky looks like it will be clear and the birds are singing like crazy.

A rabbit hops across the road at Baronette. I consider it a lucky sign. Lots of pronghorn and bison in Lamar. My first stop is at Dorothyís. I hear a sound that I realize is elk calves mewling so I look for them. Along the river, a bit to the east I find four new calves. One adult is with them and three more are swimming towards them. Another cow stands knee deep in the swollen river, on the south side, looking at the others. At first I think the group has just crossed from the Specimen side and this cow is bringing up the rear.

Then I realize that the moms have actually failed at getting the calves to cross towards Specimen. The youngsters had only made it across one narrow, shallow channel and have stopped on a sand-spit island. They refuse to continue and are mewling in protest.

The standing cow is urging them to continue, while the other moms have already given up and are returning to their young ones.

Eventually all the adults return to the calves and they end up bedding there on the sand-spit. Well, I sympathize with the calves. The main channel is deep and fast and I wouldnít want to cross it either!

I watch them a while longer, then continue west in my pursuit of wolf sightings.

I find Rick at Lamar Canyon West and we scope a while, looking for Junctions. Instead we see sandhills, a black bear and numerous elk.

Then the radio crackles. Wolves on Amethyst bench! Iím soon back at Dorothyís. I find them just east of the creek, heading west. Three blacks, one is collared. Rick thinks this is 1048 and two un-collared black adults. They are moving steadily west and seem to have full bellies. I see what looks like flirtatious behavior from the black female towards 1048.

They pass groups of bison and elk, moving with purpose towards the back of Jasper bench.

While we are watching these wolves, someone finds a big boar grizzly up on Specimen. I go back and forth between the two sightings for a while.

But eventually I lose sight of both, so I pack up and head to Slough, since there is a good chance these wolves are bringing food to the Slough pups and might be visible coming through the Crystal Creek area.

Itís almost 9AM, 51 degrees in a beautiful, perfect day.

I join other scopers on both sides of the road at Slough trying to spot the Junctions. None of us finds them and we wonder if they may have bedded or took a turn we didnít see and are headed over Specimen instead?

The hill Iím standing on is alive with ants and they make it clear I am not welcome.

The ants force me back to my car so I decide to move further west. But first I stop at Lamar River Bridge and shed several layers. Ahh, thatís better!

There are bison all over the road at Straightaway, but there seem to be an awfully high number of cars stopped, so I ask a lady and she says ďbearsĒ.

Aha!

I pull over and look where she points. Itís the Junction sow with her two darling coys. They are grazing and grubbing on the big ski slope hill below the Specimen Trail.

I enjoy watching the bears a while and help others see them, too. We also see two hikers up there, who see the bears and instead of stopping or retreating they keep getting closer, taking photos. Finally they stop and go back the way they came. They are lucky mom griz is in a good mood.

I overhear a guide talking about a black bear, referencing this same general area. I scan the area and quickly find them. Itís also a sow with two coys. They are much lower down, safe from the grizzlies, right at the tree line, directly below The Cut.

The cubs are climbing trees and falling off logs. So cute! It feels just great to have these sightings and to share them with all sorts of nice people.

Around noon I head back to Dorothyís and check on the elk. The calves are all bedded and donít seem to want to move. The moms keep trying to entice them. There is no grass on the island, just sand & rocks, so the moms graze separately from the calves on the sparse grass on the flats.

Rose creek looks wonderful from here, sparkling in the sun.

I head back to Silver Gate around 12:30 for a shower and a nap, then go back out around 6:45PM.

I see a sweet mulie grazing at Baronette. There are a lot of people stopped here, probably looking for goats, but I decide to save that for another day.

I stop at Dorothyís again and find the elk in the same spot. I drive on to Slough and scope a while. I have this beautiful spot to myself for a full half hour. I find bison, elk, pronghorn, sandhills and enormous beauty.

Itís a gorgeous evening.

When I get back to Dorothyís I discover I just missed seeing 5 black wolves! Apparently they descended Amethyst bench and disappeared. One lady says she thinks they are still there in the high grass but we just canít see them.

That rings a bell with me, remembering how I have lost wolves in that spot on occasion in other years. From here the area looks flat but I think itís deceptive. There are several depressions out there that effectively hide the wolves.

I try scoping from Mid-Point and Trash Can, but canít seem to find them.

According to a later report sent to Laurie, they were, indeed, still out there when I came by, but bedded in thick, deep grass. The report said they materialized from that spot just as it was getting dark, and moved east.

But I am east of Round Prairie when that happened. A little bit of wispy fog dances on the road in places this evening. At Warm Creek a moose emerges from that fog and slowly crosses the road. No one is behind me so I stop and watch him head into the trees on the south side.

Today I saw: 4 black bears (including 2 coys), 4 grizzly bears (including 2 coys), bison (including calves), sandhill cranes, a coyote, mule deer, elk (including 4 calves), pronghorn, a moose, a rabbit, 3 Junction wolves (1048, and two un-collared blacks) and the spirits of Allison and Richard.

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