DAY ONE - Sunday, July 24


It’s a warm 78 degrees at 2PM as I set off once more for Yellowstone.

Bozeman is a bit less green than it was three weeks ago – but the green increases as I gain elevation.

I reach West without incident and soon pick a spot along the Madison to have my visit with Allison. I need her goodwill if I’m gonna see wolves this trip!

Near 7 Mile bridge a few elk are drawing a crowd. Madison Campground looks full and busy. I see some Indian Paintbrush near Elk Park on the Gibbon road. It’s a really nice orangish-red color.

Once again, I find very little traffic on this section of road. At Norris Junction a chipmunk dashes across the road.

I take the short side-road to Virginia Cascades, sharing the view with just four other people. I’d forgotten what a pretty waterfall it is.

It’s almost 5 when I arrive in Hayden. It’s more crowded here than last time but that’s to be expected. A hundred people are ooing and aaahing at a single bull elk.

As I approach Alum, I radio for “any unit” but get no response. I scope for a while from here, then go on to Grizzly Overlook, where I see the usual bison and elk. I overhear a couple in a camper conversing with another visitor. They’re talking about wolves!

I say hello and ask if they are familiar with the Wapiti Pack. They say yes. This is how I meet Fred and Meladie and get re-acquainted with Barb’s friends Dave & Silvia. I am so thrilled to finally have like-minded people nearby!

Dave & Sylvia recommend I meet them at Alum later this evening. I head south to check in at Lake and then go back. I arrive at 6:45 only to find I have “just missed them”!!!!

At 6:30 they had a glimpse of several Wapitis moving from north to south. Of course, my heart sinks but I keep my chin up. Dave and Sylvia are so nice. They help me get familiar with various landmarks and point out all the likely places to look. We scope everywhere, then notice a crowd building on Grizzly Hill.

I turn my scope on the crowd, because I can tell, sometimes, via body language, if people are seeing wolves. To me, it looks like they are just hanging out. Waiting.

I learn about the “rally rock” and the hills nearby, the sloping hillside the Wapitis often visit, with a circular mud spot (a bison wallow) on the side and a distinct line of sage at the western edge.

A visitor approaches us, and I am re-introduced to Steve J, whom I met in Lamar with Laurie. We scope from the south end while Fred and Meladie scope from the north end.

I watch a small group of elk with three calves grazing in the meadows of Mary Mountain. They begin to move steadily down to the road, and I lose sight of them.

I find I can see the eagle nest from here, so I show Steve. Only one chick is still in the nest; the other has fledged into a neighboring tree.

Around 8PM Dave & Sylvia leave since they are staying in West. I have vowed to stay until 9. Steve decides to join the crowd on Grizzly Hill and vows to radio me if anything is seen.

At 8:40, Meladie calls out “there’s a black!” I swing my scope to where she’s pointing. She adds “above the elk”. Just that fast I find four elk in the flats trotting towards the road. And just above them, on the sloping sage hill I see a wolf. It’s a pup! And there’s another one!

Woo hoo! My first wolf in 49 days! Thank you Meladie! Thank you Allison!

I radio Steve. He has just seen them himself!

The two pups walk up the sloping hill with the wallow on the side. They are almost to the top when one stops to bed. The other continues and suddenly there is a gray adult!

The gray comes over to greet the bedded pup while the second pup bounds down the hill to join the fun. Now a black adult appears and joins the group, and a second black adult follows.

They all must have been just out of sight over the crest of that hill.

The three adults and two pups have a mini-rally, with body slamming and muzzle licking and wildly wagging tails. Oh, I love to see a rally!

A family shows up in the lot just as it’s getting too dark to see but I share my scope and they all see wolves. Oh man, I feel so much better!

It’s now 9:20 and I cannot see any more. I thank my new friends over and over. Finally, I’ve seen a wolf!

I head back to Lake, grinning all the way.

Today I saw: bison, a chipmunk, sandhill cranes, 2 bald eagles (fledglings), elk (including calves), 5 Wapiti wolves (including 2 pups) and the spirits of Allison, Richard and Jeff.

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