DAY FIVE - Thursday, July 1


I drive through sleepy Silver Gate at 4:30 AM. It’s a warm 50 degrees.

Over the last several days I have been noticing campers and RVs parked overnight which makes me suspect people are likely sleeping in these pullouts. Apparently, the Park is full and there is little else available.

Missy & Andy and I start the day together at Slough. Right away we see wolves in the den area: 1228F and the limping female plus 6 of the 8 pups. 1228 feeds them.

We also spot a badger waddling briskly through the sage beyond the lot, hunting ground squirrels.

I watch two black pups trot along the spine of the Flower Hill, heading for the Crescent Rock. They continue towards the Diagonal Forest and start to run as if trying to catch up. Someone sees an adult gray east of the trees.

The black limper is bedded on the rocky knoll east of the Crescent Rock. Five of the pups stay close to her, roaming and exploring all over. They start to howl and we grin broadly hearing the high-pitched puppy voices.

After a while they all move back behind the formerly Flowered Hill, emerging again beneath the Eastern Trees. My pup count this morning is 7, missing a gray. I follow one of the black pups who takes a walkabout to the sage den, then the Western Trees and finally circles back to the Eastern Trees, sniffing all the way.

Doug radios, alerting us to the arrival of a black adult arriving from Secret Passage. It’s 1276F.

We watch her come down the hill north of us. She crosses the campground road, fords the creek and then moves quickly through the flats. I lose her for a while but find her again near the white cut bank. She then follows the trail up the Lion Meadow.

Once she reaches the spring meadow, all the pups come running down to meet her, followed by several adult wolves who have been lurking behind the hill all this time.

On the gully ridge, 1276 is surrounded by happy pups. She lowers her head, and we witness a feeding. She moves up to the eastern trees, across the spine of the formerly Flowerd Hill to the Crescent Rock, with 6 puppies in tow (3/3). She stops in the rocks there and beds.

The pups clamber on the rocks and boulders, and on her, very cute. A few of them pose and play king of the hill, to the delight of visitors, old and new.

A collared black arrives (not sure who this was) from below and begins to play with the pups. But all too soon, they disappear again behind the hill.

There is howling from the Dave’s Hill area, but I never find the howler. We figure it’s one of the more timid wolves, arriving from the east but unwilling to cross the road with so many people around.

I’m sure the howler will eventually find a route back to the den. Around 10:30 I call it a morning, due mostly to the heat. On my way through Lamar I hear a meadowlark’s trill, and realize I’ve not commented on that lovely sound. I think I’ve heard one or two every single day this trip.

The Lamar river looks very low at the Confluence, with only one strong channel. I am dismayed to see it so low. Most summers I’ve seen at least 6 side channels.

After a break in Silver Gate, I head back in. The skies are overcast and there is a brisk wind. It looks like more rain is coming.

I have pronghorn crossing the road at Confluence and continue to Slough.

This evening I join Missy & Andy, Chloe, Becky and Dorothy in our usual spot. We have two bedded wolves in view; a collared gray and an uncollared black, flat out like a pancake.

It’s a slow night but we always have plenty to talk about. No wolves come in and the bedded wolves stay bedded. At 8PM, most people pack up and leave. I decide to stick around till 8:15, then call it a night.

With two minutes to go, the collared gray gets up. Then a black adult appears near the Crescent Rock. Another black rises in the Eastern trees. Pancake black is still bedded. The collared gray re-beds.

But the Crescent Rock black (alpha female) stretches and looks intently to the west. A black pup rises. Then suddenly all of them become restless. Three black adults, one gray adult and a black pup start to howl.

More formerly hidden wolves reveal themselves. I count 8 adults and three pups.

The alpha female suddenly sets of in her determined way to the west. 1276F is next in line. They travel in a line, in that ground-eating trot. Yep, they are on a mission. Three pups, (2 black, 1 gray) trot right along with the adults. The five other pups remain by the eastern trees, watching.

The alpha takes the middle route west, passing the “parrot rock”. An adult gray stops and tries to get a black pup to turn back home. The pup ignores this instruction. This pups wants to go, too.

The leaders disappear through the rocky pass. The limper travels with this group, staying close to the pups. I watch until they all disappear. Back at the eastern trees, two adults and the remaining 5 pups are still bedded.

It’s now 8:30 so I pack up and go.

On the drive back I see a moose at Warm Creek.

Today I saw: a badger, bison, elk, 1 moose, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, 16 Junction wolves (including AF, AM, 907, 1228, 1276, Limper, 2 others, plus all 8 pups) and the spirits of Allison and Richard.

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