DAY SIX - Saturday, July 8


I leave Silver Gate around 6AM at 39 degrees. Itís a beautiful morning with lots of birdies singing. The light in the sky is tinged with color, making it really pretty.

I have my own private black bear sighting at Round Prairie on the north side of the road, out in the open between willow clumps.

When I get to Exclosure I see a line or parked cars, so I find a spot of my own and hike up the hill. Laurie & Dan pull in behind me.

Rick is higher up and confirms wolves are in view. I look at the eroded area and find a black and two grays moving west. Dan finds a few more ahead of my group, also moving west.

Danís group includes the alpha male. My count is now up to 7.

A collared black (1385F) beds down at the western end of the foothills while the others continue, travelling at a steady trot.

Laurie suggests we move to Hubbard, so we pack up and head down to the cars. Our progress is slowed by bison in the road but we a rrive at Hubbard in time to see three wolves, the alpha male, an uncollared gray and an uncollared black, trotting up the steep slope on the far side of Amethyst drainage. Laurie finds four more near the western foothills.

Dan finds a small grizzly behind us on the north slope. Weíre pretty sure itís the young bear I called the Willow Bear which caused daily jams in the Confluence area during May and June.

We lose the alpha male and his escorts but the other four have stalled and are now bedded at the western foothills. So, we go back east and climb Trash Can Hill.

From here, Laurie finds 1385F still bedded right where she was when we left Exclosure. By this time, the other four are no longer in sight and have gone up into the treeline.

We hear howling coming from the trees behind the foothills. 1385 joins in the howling then gets up and heads towards the others.

So, we start panning around. I catch movement to the east and find a gray and a black at the edge of the trees just east of the foothills. These wolves are going east towards the river corridor. Dan sees a second gray with these two wolves.

We move to Geriatric which offers a better view of that area.

I find them again, briefly, but they soon drop down into a gully. Rick finds them again but now the wolves have turned around and are heading west once more.

Unfortunately they take a route behind the treeline so we all lose sight of them. With no more wolves in view, I decide to start heading back to Bozeman.

I have a pleasant but uneventful drive through Little America and the Blacktail. The hillsides in Mammoth are covered in sweet yellow clover, contrasting beautifully with the sage and the white thermal hill.

On a hilltop above the new/old road an elk mom and her calf strike an enigmatic pose.

My last wildlife sighting is a pretty mule deer buck just outside Gardiner.

As I drive through the beautiful Paradise Valley, I reflect on the fact that this is my last visit for the summer. By the time I return, summer will be a memory and fall will have begun.

Today I saw: a black bear, a grizzly bear, bison (and calves), mule deer, elk (including one calf), pronghorn (and calves), 9 Junction wolves, including alpha male, 1385F, dark black, light gray, brown-gray and four others) and the spirits of Allison, Richard and Jeff

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