DAY THREE - Saturday, February 18

CALVIN WAS RIGHT

Itís much warmer today at 15 degrees above zero.

There is a good deal of fog in Lamar but Little America is clear.

As I near the Lamar Bridge I see a guide van has stopped up ahead in the east-bond lane. I stop to try to figure out why.

Aha! Moose!

Itís about to cross the road from north to south. I pull into the lot and watch the large animal clamber over the high snow berm. Once across it leaps over the south side berm and climbs a low hill, pausing to look back.

Oh! Thereís another one! This is Mama, following her almost-yearling calf. Laurie & Dan pull in beside me to watch through binoculars.

Mama is not sure she wants to be on the south side, because she turns and goes back north. The calf stays right where it is. Hmm, is there a second calf?

We never see one, but mom remains conflicted. She crosses to her calf a second time, then returns north once more. The calf doesnít move. Maybe mom is always like this?

Calvin calls to say he has Junctions at Hellroaring. We wanna see wolves, but we decide to wait for Mama to make up her mind. She crosses to the calf a third time, and finally they take a few steps south together.

I take this as my cue that itís safe to drive on.

We set up at Lower, since Kathie has warned us there is no room for us at Upper. Luckily, we find the wolves right away.

I see three bedded blacks, just this side of the upper curves of Hellroaring Creek. They soon get up and move out of view, but I find another black further east.

This one, too, moves out of sight.

For about 10 minutes, we have no wolves in view, but Kathie tells us they have just crossed the creek, and are heading west. Calvin finds them from here, beneath the basalt cliff, heading towards the bottom of Tornado Drainage.

It becomes a very nice sighting, with the pack walking in a loose line, somewhat leisurely to the west. We start counting and helping other visitors to see wolves. Iíve got 16. There is a lot of puppy play, which I always enjoy. I recognize 907F and the alpha male.

They seem to be in a somewhat exploratory mood, not intent on anything, maybe more of a territory check. The leaders start to angle south, before reaching the drainage. This route will take them to the cliffs above the Yellowstone, an area that can be viewed from the Upper lot, but not this one. They start to disappear behind a ridge and the rest of the pack follows.

After the last stragglers go out of sight, we have about a 20 minute stretch with no wolves at all. But off and on we hear howling, a single voice, so we all try to find it. Eventually I find a single black, collared, a bit west of where the pack disappeared. As other watchers get a look at this wolf, the consensus is that we are seeing 1382F.

This is the former alpha female who has lost her status. She wanders here and there, howling plaintively, then moves upslope a bit. She settles down to bed for a while. I feel bad for her, despite knowing she was a very harsh alpha. Wolves want to belong to a pack, and she is on the outs with hers.

We stick around till about 1PM, then call it a day and go back east.

On our way back, Michael radios that there is a moose in view from Footbridge. We pull in and easily find the animal, an antlerless bull, in a clump of willows within easy view of the lot. The photographers are very happy today!

Today I saw: bison, elk, 3 moose, 17 Junction wolves (alpha male, 907F, 1382F and 14 more) and the spirits of Allison, Richard and Jeff.

Next Chapter

Previous Chapter

Back to Main Page

Printer Friendly Index