DAY EIGHT - Friday, December 2


Three more inches of snow today. And itís warm-ish, at 18. Fox tracks clearly visible.

So far visibility is pretty good, so Iím hopeful.

But I soon learn that neither crew has yet to find their wolves today. The Junctions have finally left Hellroaring and moved into the dreaded Trough. The Rescue wolves are somewhere near the Painted Hills again, but not in a viewable spot.

Some days can be so frustrating. We finally have good visibility and there are no wolves to see!

We spread out, trying Boulder, Slough, Elk Creek and Ski Lot. No luck. At least the sun feels nice.

Laurie & Dan and I figure weíll check further west on the Blacktail. I end up going all the way to the Ponds, but find nothing but fresh snow.

I join Jeff in the Blacktail Straightaway lot. We scope around, finding the trails made by the Rescue wolves a few days ago. But we donít see any of them, only a few distant elk.

I go on to Hellroaring. Cameron is stationed here, watching the old bison carcass. It is quite depleted, just one horn and a spinal column remain in sight. Not even birds are left!

It looks like the opening shot in a movie; all it needs is an ominous Indian flute soundtrack.

I continue east. Itís such a nice, sunshiny day but in truth, there are still snow clouds shrouding Hellroaring Mountain and Momís Ridge.

I go back into Lamar. At the YES pullout I watch two coyotes traveling along the road. Eventually they north, struggling through deep snow.

I have some luck at the Confluence, when I catch a glimpse of the otter family. I park in the lot and watch them through binocs with a few other visitors. They are fishing the Soda Butte today, frolicking in their charming way. Porpoise-diving and then popping up like jack in the boxes.

Once I see a small fish flapping in an otterís mouth. A second otter rushes over, either to beg a share or to steal it. The successful otter dives down and I donít see what happens next.

I lose them for a bit, then they show up again in the same spot. One rockets out of the water onto a shelf of ice, and boinks along for a bit. Two otters follow this one along the shelf for about 10 hops, then all three dive back underwater.

They do this once more, almost step for step, then they swim back downstream, right past me. Nice. I stay in the rest of the day with Laurie & Dan, visiting and watching old Law & Order eps on TV.

Today I saw: bison, 3 coyotes, elk, 3 otters, and the spirits of Allison, Richard and Jeff.

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