DAY EIGHT - Sunday, April 30


My legs are worse than ever today. I think that carrying heavy things is not helping. But once I get in the driver’s seat I have at least a half hour of no pain while I drive.

Bill H is parked at Hitching Post again today but this time he has no bears. On to Slough I go.

Stalwarts Paul, Frank and Doug M. are in their usual spots. Paul says there are six Junctions in view already.

My first wolf is an uncollared gray, but not the husky one from yesterday. This is likely a yearling. The wolf travels from the sage den to the western trees, then further past the Parrot Rock to the small diagonal forest.

There are four bull elk grazing that area; all bulls. Three are in velvet and the fourth has no antlers yet. The grey gets a little too close to these elk and gets charged. He gets the message and turns north.

The wolf strikes me as a bit bored. He moves up the western side of the den cliff, well above the natal den. I notice a bedded black wolf in the center of the cliff, just below the top, on a small boulder that sticks out like a shelf from the cliff. The gray passes just above the bedded black and ends up on the eastern side of the cliff before it descends to the eastern trees.

The bedded black starts to howl. After a bit, the black gets up and follows the route taken by the gray, disappearing behind the eastern trees.

John K is here this morning. He always has great stories. It’s always nice to have him around.

The alpha male is here, this morning, bedded near the Boulder. 1382F is also in view, wandering back and forth, with a noticeably tucked tail. It seems that the “conveyor belt” is operating normally once again.

907F follows 1382F for about 15 minutes straight, on an extended tour of the den area. 907 does not pin her or act aggressively but she follows just a few paces behind, wherever she goes. Even though 1382 was an aggressive alpha, I am now feeling sorry for her.

Eventually 907 relents and turns towards the natal den. You can almost hear 1382 sigh in relief. She beds in front of the second eastern tree, with her front paws extended, showing off her distinctive “bunny slippers”.

I guess we will never know what happened to her pups. Did she den somewhere and lose them already? Did 907 or 1276 kill them? I suppose it will remain a wolf mystery.

The even bigger mystery is 1386F. She is also on the outs with her pack, and has been for the last month or so. She was seen in the Hellroaring area in April, the wolf project is not telling us if she denned there (or anywhere) or not. I guess they may not know.

1276 comes out of the sage den and stares to the west. An uncollared gray appears on the cliff above the natal den. I expect 1276 to race towards this gray but she doesn’t. The gray moves down and stops at the natal den, then continues over to The Boulder.

907 appears at the entrance of the natal den, as if wondering why the gray came so close but failed to feed her? 1276 seems to have the same thought, but she goes straight towards the eastern trees. I think there are several wolves back there.

A collared gray (1341 or 1384) comes out from behind the Eastern Trees, heading for the sage den. 1276 bolts after her. The collared gray dives into the den and 1276 dives in after her.

Around 10:30 a rally forms around the alpha male, including 1276F, 1382F, three black yearlings and two uncollared grays. When the rally ends, most of the wolves re-bed. Two black yearlings choose spots on snow. 1276 follows one of the grays uphill and down, begging for food. She finally gets some!

Around noon I head back to Silver Gate. The traffic lights at each end of Lamar Canyon have been re-set to a maximum wait of five minutes. I find that is just long enough to refill my water bottle and have a bit of lunch.

As I pass Dorothy’s I am delighted to see a herd of bison has taken up residence in the still snowy Lamar Valley. Not a big herd, but maybe 30 cows with their calves. The valley is now a patchwork of rapidly melting snow and new grass.

I also see a coyote wandering among them, with very black feet, likely full of wet mud.

At the Institute I join a crowd watching a bear up on Amethyst bench. It’s one of the two sub-adults that have been frequenting this area.

Another sign of spring is the rising water level in the Confluence. I enjoy seeing the water rise, but of course I don’t want a repeat of last year!

I continue east, and spy three pronghorn north of YES. This is pretty far east for pronghorn in April!

I mull over what to do about my legs. My doctor has authorized some PT sessions in Bozeman, so I will probably return sooner than planned in order to attend those sessions.

Reliable wolf-watching is something I love, but I worry that standing at my scope (even sitting for periods of time) is not a good long-term plan for whatever is ailing me. I want to be able to return in a few weeks when the pups start to come out.

Today I saw: a grizzly bear, bison (and calves), elk, pronghorn, 10 Junction wolves (six blacks and four grays; including 907, alpha male, 1276F, 1341F (or 1384), 1382F, two uncollared grays and three uncollared blacks) and the spirits of Allison, Richard and Jeff.

Next Chapter

Previous Chapter

Back to Main Page

Back to Printer Friendly Index