I wake to a full moon and a sky full of stars.
Itís warm again, 51. I am the sole driver as I head over Dunraven, the only one to enjoy a gorgeous sunrise over the mountains of Lamar.
I set up at Boulder Hill to scope for wolves in the dim, early light. I grin when I see grass growing here. Usually, itís trampled bare by wolf watchers!
I head further east and at Slough I see Jeremy and Taylor, preparing to unlock the gate to Lamar. Oh, how I wish I could go with them!
I talk with them a bit and learn that 1048M is somewhere in the Crystal area while Rescue Creek wolves might be visible at Yancyís Hole.
I wish them good luck and I set up my scope, scanning the area to the south, hope-scoping for 1048, scanning every inch of Divide Ridge and all the areas we watched every day in May.
I get a radio call from Rick ďcome to Elk CreekĒ.
Off I go, but alas, Iím too late. The Rescue Creek pups were seen briefly in the flats from Elk Creek, but they are now out of sight. I see Rick at the Big Ski Lot, trying to find them from this angle.
I join him and we try our best to find the wolves. But luck is not with us. He and Luke have clients in the van so they decide to drive on to Hayden.
I scope here for a while by myself, then Jeremy and Taylor show up. We hear howling and the voices are coming up from below us. Itís maddening to try to find them and fail. The second howl session includes pup voices.
Jeremy tries walking east along the road. He finds a spot and stops to set up his scope. Eureka! He suspected they had a carcass, and now heís found it on a scree slope just above the flats.
Itís really hard to see but I finally find a spot where I can see through a gap in the trees. Even better, I see a wolf! A gray adult, well, more accurately, the rear end of one!
I also see the carcass, well only the front half of it. We try and try but never see any others. But itís nice to finally spend quality time with my young friends. I also learn that the Rescues have five pups, three black and two gray. I also learn that 1154F, the alpha female, was killed by other wolves about two weeks ago. They suspect it was 8 Mile wolves, which, sadly, is her natal pack. So right now, there is only one adult female left, an uncollared black. It is assumed she will move into the alpha female position.
Itís now getting warm, and Jeremy and Taylor are off to Gardiner.
I bid them farewell and drive back into Little America. I head down the campground road once more, realizing I have not yet had my coffee! I angle my car so that my open hatch will create shade and start to boil water.
Iíve got all of Slough to myself.
Well, almost. There is one other car, a pick-up. Its two passengers are fishermen who are quietly gearing up.
Once they are ready, they walk past me and strike up a conversation, as courteous people do. We talk a bit about wolves and the flood. One of the men is elderly Ė he says heís been coming here for 40 years and has enjoyed seeing how the Park has changed since the arrival of the wolves.
I am happily surprised when he makes clear that he means ďfor the betterĒ. Then he hustles back to his truck and quickly returns, explaining that he is an illustrator. He gives me what he just retrieved Ė an 8 x 10 hand-drawn wolf portrait, black and white but with yellow eyes. Itís beautiful! I thank him but canít believe my luck!
Then off they go.
ďWatch out for bisonĒ I call, and they wave, grinning.
I love being here.
Around noon I pack up and call it a day.
My choice to drive over Dunraven once more pays off when I see the black bear sow and two cubs that Chloe and Becky and I watched back in May. Itís a much shorter sighting, but Iím happy to have it.
I turn right at Canyon and go on to Norris and out through West. I thank Allison for giving me wolf luck and bid her adieu.
The return trip down 191 is uneventful, still gorgeous but with much less green than my early adventures. But a successful trip, nonetheless.
Iím back in Bozeman by 4PM
Today I saw: 3 black bears (including 2 cubs), bison (including calves), sandhill cranes, elk,
pronghorn, the rear-end of a Rescue Creek wolf, and the spirits of Allison, Richard and Jeff.