Its another clear morning with a full moon. The birdies are chirping like crazy. This is the way I like to start my day!
Shortly after I set up on the hill at Slough we notice wolves moving through the eastern trees. At first we think they are just changing their bedding spots but then we realize they are on a mission.
They go almost straight north, high on the slope above the Diagonal Forest; 5 blacks (including the alphas and 1276F) and 2 grays.
Susan calls bear and sure enough a black bear comes lumbering downslope into the diagonal forest, just east of the hunting party.
907F remains at the sage den, with two gray pups crawling on her. I assume she got back to the den overnight and delivered food because she does not look nearly as fat as she did yesterday!
I quickly lose the hunting wolves in the trees up high. But about a half hour later, the alpha female comes traipsing back down. The pups surround her and she delivers the goods. We re-think what we saw earlier and decide that the traveling wolves were not off on a hunt. They were heading to a known carcass! Susan suggests that the black bear had likely just left it.
907 shows no interest in the food brought by the alpha. Well, she is probably still full, due to all she ate yesterday! She is still bedded in the same spot and now three pups are crawling on her. She is beautifully tolerant.
Those of us who watch wolves are aware that various birds hang out near them, having learned that there are nearly always tidbits of food to snatch. There are many magpies here this morning and apparently the alpha female has a low tolerance for them. She chases them this way and that, and the pups chase after her when she does.
We get a radio call that 1228F is on her way from Secret Passage. In no time at all, she arrives, coming down past Dave’s Hill. She is quick, that one. In the blink of an eye, she crosses the campground road and trots into the flats. I miss seeing her swim the creek but find her as she starts up the Lion Meadow trail. When she arrives, the alpha female is first in line to welcome her. The puppies come running down in their cute way and of course, they all disappear into the gully. Oh, if we only had a glass window there to see through!
1228 reappears and moves into the Spring meadow where she beds in the cool grass. The pups follow her and resume exploring.
Laurie & Dan go back to Lamar to check on the wolves being seen there. I walk down the hill to the cars with them but stay to talk to Jeremy. We see the arrival of 1229F from the east. She brings food, too.
Jeremy gets a radio call from the Park that a hiker was just mauled by sow with cubs on the Beaver Ponds trail. Eek! I’ve been on that trail myself. (I find out later that he was injured but survived)
Laurie radios that they are watching wolves from Picnic and they’re moving west. Kathie and I pack up and go there.
We pull in at mid-point and quickly find 6 wolves to the south (4 blacks and 2 grays). The collared blacks turn out to be 1276F and 1275M. The limping gray is bounding along with this group, barely held back at all by his injury.
They pass a few elk but nothing develops, then turn uphill at the eastern end of Amethyst.
With the wolves out of view, Kathie packs up to join her hiking buds. I move further east to join L & D and Rick at Picnic.
The day has become windy but otherwise picture perfect.
Rick finds another wolf traveling east below Jasper Bench. We watch the wolf swim the river, on its way to the carcass from yesterday.
Reluctantly I pack up and head back to Silver Gate, where I pack up and clean and prepare to head back to Bozeman.
After waving goodbye to Laurie & Dan I notice that Robin & Steve are talking with John K at his cabin next door, so I stop for a quick visit with them. Steve gives me advice about my upcoming remodel.
I continue on my way west, stopping for ewes and lambs at Junction Butte again. And I see a gorgeous bull elk in velvet near the bluebird tree pullout.
As I wind down the S Curves, I see forks of lightning on Everts. By the time I reach Mammoth, the rain arrives.
My last sighting is a lone mule deer doe just before the Entrance gate. She looks like she wants to cross the road so I stop in a handy pullout and give her room.
I say goodbye to Allison, thanking her for helping me have such a nice trip.
Today I saw: a black bear, bison, elk, bighorn sheep, 22 Junction wolves (including both alphas, 907F, 1048F, 1228F, 1229F,
1275M, 1276M, the gray limper, dark black and several other yearlings plus all 8 pups) and the spirits of Allison and Richard.