It’s a bit warmer this morning, at 36, with light snow falling.
Once I’m on the road, the snow begins to thicken until I find myself in a squall, with a west wind blowing snow right into the windshield. It’s hard to see, so I slow down to 25mph.
This makes for a very slow drive. No using brights in this kind of weather of course, because they make it worse.
As usual, the snow lets up considerably when I reach Round Prairie. I listen for howling and note that it’s taken me twice as long to get here as usual!
I stop at Trash Can to listen again and find Stacy, Dale & Faye here, too. We all want the Junctions to come back! I scope from the lot while they climb the hill. None of us finds wolves, though.
I see Jeremy so I pull in behind him. He says, alas, the Junctions are way, way out Cache Creek, and very unlikely to return today. So I continue west, relaying this unfortunate news to Laurie & Dan.
We try to find Rescue Creek at Boulder then Elk Creek. I discover later that Rescue Creek is somewhere up Antelope and nowhere viewable from the road.
At Elk Creek I see pronghorn, a bald eagle, elk and bison.
We stop at Hellroaring where we find Dusty, Dale & Faye. Nothing. So we continue. Maybe we’ll find Eight Mile wolves from Nature Trail?
We scope for a while but find nothing moving. Then Dusty calls. He has wolves at Hellroaring! Back we go, and luckily arrive in time. He spotted two grays at the bottom of Tornado Drainage, traveling slowly east, following a scent trail. I see them, as they take a detour to the edge of the cliffs, sniffing everywhere.
Although both are gray, these do not look to me to be the same lost pups we watched yesterday. They seem relaxed and confident and both have similar dark gray coloring on their backs.
Jeremy joins us. He says these are adult wolves, not pups. Surprisingly, he also says they are not Rescue Peak wolves, nor Junction. Both are uncollared, and he doesn’t know who they are.
I am reminded that this is the time of year that mature, unattached wolves, both male & female, begin to explore beyond their territories, looking for potential mates. These could be Wapiti or Eight Mile or even totally unknown wolves from somewhere in Montana or Wyoming.
They follow a wobbly route east, stopping in all the spots we’ve seen the Junctions visit over the last several days. Sometimes they stop and double back to a particular spot, sniffing all the way. Sometimes they lope, sometimes walk, sometimes trot.
They both look very healthy. We watch them travel across the lower part of the big open slope and enter Little Buffalo drainage below where the Junctions had been four days ago.
I hand over to Dusty the rest of my chocolate candy, since he has been the wolf spotting champ these last few days. He grins in appreciation.
Around noon the wolves enter the thicker trees of Little Buffalo drainage, so we pack up and head to Elk Creek. From here, it’s a “needle in a haystack” situation, and even harder since they are both gray and blend into the scenery.
But this is what we love to do, so we keep trying. I join Dale & Faye at the Ski Lot, to try that angle, but we have no luck here either. We do see the black bear in the den; well, more accurately we see his paw sticking out.
This is not the same “green ear tag” bear that was here with cubs last year. I think it is a young male.
We scope till around 1PM but then call it a day.
Laurie and Dan and I stay in tonight, cleaning and prepping to leave tomorrow.
Today I saw: 1 black bear, bison, a bald eagle, elk, pronghorn, 2 mystery wolves and the spirits
of Allison, Richard and Jeff.