DAY EIGHT - Saturday, June 22

AFTER SNOW, RAIN

There is frost on the car this morning, but the summer snow has finally ended. The temperature this morning is the coldest so far, 30 degrees. I am all packed, and hopefully have left Laurieís place in good shape for her upcoming visit.

I see mule deer near the road just before Ice Box canyon.

The temperature drops to 27 at Trout Lake. I love the cold, but Iím sure itís hardly what most visitors expected for the second day of summer!

Frost on the sagebrush makes it sparkle in the early morning light. Itís just beautiful.

When I reach the valley, I find some fog, and itís quite chilly.

My first stop is Dorothyís. As usual, Rick and Jeremy are already here.

Jeremy has 1048ís signal. They have already had a quick glimpse of him. A few minutes later he re-appears at the back of Jasper Bench, carrying what we think is a pronghorn fawn. He heads east.

A little later I see a black wolf with nothing in his mouth. Hmm, I suppose he could have cached the carcass, because not enough time elapsed for him to have eaten the whole thing. But then I realize this is a different wolf. This is 996, scent-trailing. I lose him in the saddle between Jasper & Amethyst.

A light rain begins to fall, greatly diminishing visibility. We scope in vain for a while, then Missy & Andy suggest we try Slough in hopes that visibility might be better there.

I agree and we find it somewhat better, here but not much! We walk out on the knob and find elk and geese with goslings. But no wolves. It starts to rain harder, so we pack up and continue west.

As we reach Aspen, I pull over to watch a small herd of elk running across the meadow towards the river. When they reach it, they wade across - itís so shallow here, no swimming is required. All these elk look to be in top shape.

We end up going south to check on the owl nest. By the time we get here, the rain has let up, so we have a pleasant viewing. Our count is the usual two owlets and 1 adult.

We go on to the peregrine nest. The three chicks are still here. No adult appears while we are watching, but Missy finds some sheep far below the nest on the same rock face.

There are two ewes, two lambs, and an old-looking male. The ramís coat is mottled and shedding. He doesnít look healthy to me, but perhaps this is just how wild sheep look when they shed this time of year?

Missy & Andy are weighing a trip to Hayden but I need to start my drive back to Bozeman. We say our farewells, knowing we will see each other again later in July.

On my way back down to Tower I see a black bear to the north above Rainy Lake.

The day remains overcast and the drizzle returns. In fact, it stays with me all through the Blacktail portion of the road.

Just before I reach the Fire Trail lot it tapers off, and I see Dorothy scoping here, so I set up next to her. We watch a while, chatting and comparing notes and then suddenlyÖblack dots running! We both see them! Three pups. They converge for a rally and then split apart, roaming the sage hill left of their home base.

The sighting doesnít last long, maybe 10 minutes, but we are both delighted. The dot-pups wander back into the trees. We keep hoping for another burst of activity, but it doesnít happen.

I guess Iíll just have to wait till next time.

I bid adieu to Dorothy and head for Bozeman.

Today I saw: 1 black bear, bison, mule deer, elk, geese & goslings, 3 owls (including 2 owlets) 4 peregrine falcons (including 3 chicks), five bighorn sheep (including 2 lambs), 4 wolves from 2 packs (Junction 1048 and 3 of the 8 Mile pups) and the spirits of Allison & Richard.

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