DAY SEVEN - Wednesday, Februrary 22

THE INSIDE "SCOPE"

Itís back to very cold again this morning at minus 4!

I scrape another 4 inches of icy snow off the car, but at least the wind has finally died down. Laurie doesnít feel well this morning and may not come out.

Along the road, drifting is still in evidence; the east bound lanes are again partially blocked. Between the Coyote and Fisherman lots, the relentless wind pushed snow into the west-bound lane. The plows scraped a lot away, but this section narrows to about a lane and a half. The north side berm is at least 10 feet high!

Itís kinda cool and kinda spooky both.

I find nothing going on at Slough or elsewhere in Little America, so I continue west. I stop at Curve to call Laurie with an update on conditions. Not surprisingly, she has decided to stay in today.

Jeremy and Taylor join me for a chat. They tell me wolves are visible on the slopes of Sepulcher in Gardiner but nowhere else. Both Junction and Rescue are in unviewable areas today. They are going east to check on 1228. I warn them about the drifts.

My next stop is Elk Creek, where I check in with Kathie. Sheís made it to Undine, but when I give her my report, she says sheíll head back to Gardiner to try to see them from her place.

There is light snow and light wind on the Blacktail, but nothing like yesterday. The plows have done a great job with the drifts at North Butte, but theyíve left berms higher than Iíve ever seen them. They are even higher along the S Curves Ė just amazing to see!

And in the straightaway the berms are so high you cannot see over the top. It feels like Iím driving through a tunnel. But I have to admit, the fresh blanket of snow looks beautiful.

I even find drifting in Mammoth!

There is no-one scoping at Everts Overlook so I continue onto the new/old road. I am almost at the bottom when I see Julie A & Becky B standing out in the howling wind with their scopes, focused on the top of a nearby hill.

I pull over and say hi, and despite the crazy wind, I manage to raise my binocs to where they are pointing.

Thanks to them, I see my first wolf in three days! Itís a healthy-looking collared black, curled up against the elements. Iím not sure which wolf this is, and neither are Julie & Becky. It could be 1271F of the 8 Miles, or a Lupine wolf or a Rescue. All three packs have all been seen in this area off and on over the last several days.

I thank my friends and wish them well. I drive into Gardiner, then up the Jardine Road. Calvin & Lynette are already here so I park next to them and haul my scope inside Kathieís warm and welcoming house.

Now, this is another first! Three scopes are set up in the living room, facing south to Sepulcher Mountain. I place mine next to Calvin and tell them about the black wolf I just saw with Julie & Becky.

They have that wolf in view from here, as well. Wow, what a different kind of experience! I have joked with Kathie many times about how she should be able to see wolves from her living room, but now itís come true!

Calvin & Lynette fill me in on what theyíve heard. Someone saw 6 Lupine wolves earlier, heading upslope on Sepulcher, possibly as high as the tree line. They have been scanning, trying to find them. Someone also reported that this collared black had been chased by other wolves earlier.

We joke about the very nice conditions in this ďpulloutĒ.

I scan all over the place, looking for wolves. Instead, I find three pronghorn in the flat area above the river.

I keep scanning and suddenly I find a gray. Woo hoo! Itís on a wind-swept knoll, not too far from the collared black. Lynette says the black is not there anymore. They both find my gray and we agree it does NOT have a collar.

Then I spot movement below the gray. Itís a black, collared, trotting to the east. Hmm, is this the same black we had before?

The gray stands and stretches, then walks a bit south. The collared black begins to climb the same ridge the gray is on. The wolves are so close to each other, it only makes sense they are aware of each other.

But then they both go out of sight.

We stick around a while longer, nibbling on our lunches, chatting and joking but we never find any more wolves. Around 12:30 I decide to head back east.

Itís still windy and raw outside, and still below zero. But in the warmth of my car, I enjoy the beautiful drive. The snow has finally stopped but the sky remains hazy-cloudy, The high peaks to the north are shrouded in mist.

I get back to Silver Gate and settle in for the rest of the day.

Today I saw: bison, elk, 3 pronghorn, 2 wolves (a collared black and an uncollared gray) and the spirits of Allison, Richard and Jeff.

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