DAY SIX - Thursday, November 18

HIDING IN THE TROUGH

Iím out at 6:15. Itís another cold morning at only 9 degrees, which makes sparkles everywhere!

My first stop is at Dorothyís where itís just light enough for me to check the bison carcass. I keep hoping some of the Junctions might have been drawn here to visit this free banquet. But I only see birds and a single coyote, so I continue west.

The sunrise is quite pretty as I continue west.

I find the crew at the Big Ski lot and learn that the Junctions seem to have stalled just where we donít want themÖin the Trough. Itís very likely they got an elk last night and are sleeping it off.

I keep hoping to catch a glimpse of one of them coming in or going out, so I move to Rickís pullout for a less obstructed view. After a while of no luck, I end up back east at Boulder. The crew thinks we have the best chance from here.

I chat with Hannah a bit to learn her story. She is a very accomplished young woman and I like her a lot.

We scope our hearts out but the wolves remain hidden. We find elk and bison and a pair of bighorn sheep. The ram is attempting to court the ewe. He is body language is eager and alert, watching every move she makes. She grazes contentedly, totally ignoring the ram unless he comes too close, at which point she moves further away.

Tíwas ever thus.

Around 11:45 I call it a morning and drive back east, figuring I will return later this afternoon.

Around 2:30 I drive west again, stopping at Dorothyís again to check the carcass. One fat coyote is holding court plus many birds.

I am stopped for a while in a bison jam at Aspen. The herd has a red dog with them, and I suspect itís likely the same group we saw at Hellroaring a few days ago.

I join the crew at Boulder, learning that signals have not improved. I figure if the crew is here, this is still the best place to be. I show Jeremy the odd white thing I spotted on the far side of the pond. He agrees itís man-made, and suggests I hike out to inspect it tomorrow.

We continue scoping, finding no wolves but abundant elk.

Rick radios from the big Ski lot. He and Michael heard a howl a little while ago and just found three wolves moving east.

By the time I get there, the wolves have already disappeared. It is thought these could be uncollared, straggler Junctions coming back to join the group.

There are only weak signals emanating from the Trough but the crew decides to head to Hellroaring to check from there. I decide not to go that far because the light is already fading.

I set off for Silver Gate and when I get there, Laurie tells me Jeff sent a message that more Junctions were seen from Hellroaring in the last light of day.

Today I saw: 1 black bear, bison (including a red dog), coyotes, a golden eagle, 2 bighorn sheep and the spirits of Allison and Richard.

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