I set off at 6:25 today in 24 degrees, having to brush about 2 Inches of fresh snow off the car first.
There are numerous tracks criss-crossing the road this morning, probably fox, plus deer and bison.
I stop at Round Prairie and Trash Can again, to listen (in vain) for howling.
Itís still dark at Boulder when I arrive at 7:15. No wolves here, though. Once we have a bit more light I see a flock of swans flying off to the south.
We spread out, trying to find the Junctions. I look from Aspen a while. Others try from Long, Boulder and Ski Lot.
Dusty is up Daveís hill. He radios that he sees a black in the flats. Dale & Faye corroborate from their spot at Lamar Canyon West. They have more than one, out by Marge.
We converge on Slough and most people hike out to Bobís Knob. Kathie joins Dusty on Daveís. Laurie and I start at Bobís and see three wolves but Kathie and Dusty can see 21.
So, we bite the bullet and head up Daveís.
I see a total of 21 as well, including the alpha female, 907, 1276 and lots of pups. Laurie thinks they have a new carcass in the twin ponds area. (You canít see the ponds, but they are behind the Southern Round Tree.)
We enjoy watching the pups play as we always do. One intrepid individual begins to explore the long bench above the creek. Others explore the meadows in front of the Southern Round tree. One hill has a few bison wallows, which the pups find fascinating. Several pups bed down while another starts to dig a hole.
The alpha female gets up and trots south, followed by many but not all of the others. From here, we can see people stopped at Aspen and that their presence prevents most of the wolves from crossing.
Five do make it south, including 1048 plus two grays and two blacks. Laurie spots them later as they cross Crystal drainage. We track them as they move east, then up & over the divide.
The wolves that were prevented from crossing return to the Slough flats and re-bed in two groups.
Around noon with only bedded wolves in view, we go back down to our cars. I stop at Dorothyís hoping to find 1048M and his group. No luck, so I continue east to Silver Gate.
After a break and a shower, I suggest we go back out, at least as far as Lamar Canyon West. If the Junctions are still at Slough, weíll be able to see them from there.
At Dorothyís two pronghorn cross the road and dash down the slope to the flats.
At Lamar Canyon West we find Stacy, Dale & Faye already here, with Junction wolves in their scopes. I set up on the low hill to the north. I find wolves right away but there is little activity at first, other than some bored pups milling about.
Around 5:15 the pups start to rouse the adults. Soon they are all up and we expect they will head south. Instead, they start off to the west, aiming for the meadow behind Marge.
We pack up and move to the Bobís Knob lot. We find them quickly, as the last stragglers pass behind Marge. Their route takes them through the Aspen Drainage and eventually uphill, aiming for Junction Pass.
I count 19 in this group (12 blacks and 7 grays) while Stacy has 23.
We are all glad we came out tonight.
Today I saw: bison, elk, pronghorn, 20 swans, 21 Junction wolves and the spirits of Allison,
Richard and Jeff.