DAY FOUR - Friday, January 27

JUNCTIONS FROM CURVE

There is more snow on the car again today Ė maybe four inches. But itís a bit warmer, at 19 degrees.

Snow is predicted for the next two days so I am prepared for visibility to be an issue today.

And it is.

Snow falls heavily as I set out. Iím first today, breaking trail. Snow blows against my windshield on the first third of the drive, but Iím now used to this so no problem.

However, instead of the usual experience of snow lessening at Round Prairie it actually gets worse. Visibility is quite bad through the Soda Butte Valley. I stop at Hitching Post where I wait for Laurie & Dan. Rick pulls in, too and we talk.

We agree visibility is awful but decide to continue anyway. We all know that sometimes there are often clearer conditions in Little America even when Lamar is fogged out.

We make our slow way through Lamar and get another reprieve in Lamar Canyon, where the trees protects us to a small degree.

Little America does prove to be a bit better, but I notice that none of the pullouts are plowed yet. (I donít mean this as a complaint, just a fact). But fairly soon, the radio crackles with news. Wolves have been sighted near Curve.

When I arrive, I find wolves in view through falling snow south of the lot, heading east, approaching the treeline. Apparently, the Junctions crossed from the north and were scared by a passing snowplow.

I feel lucky to have had this brief sighting, realizing that had they been further away, I probably would not have seen them at all.

Laurie & Dan arrive and call to me. The wolves are back in view so I move to the eastern end of the lot. This time I see more of them, 16 in all, including dear old 907F.

They are walking slowly through a clearing in the forest, passing a snow-covered fallen log and a double-trunked tree.

This sighting lasts twice as long as before but is still quite short. Between the thick snowfall and the thicker trees, they go out of sight pretty quickly.

Assuming the wolves will continue east, we pack up and drive that way. Straightaway lot is full when I get there, so I drive further to Longs.

We set up and scan the tree line but see nothing. The snow has increased since I left Curve. There is a bison herd fairly close to the lot and we can barely see them!

We listen for howling and check with our friends in other lots. No one has anything.

Around 9:30 I decide to warm up by going to the Tower gas station. On my way, though, Rick radios that howling is being heard north of Curve. I pull there and talk with the people here. Then I hear howling myself, a group howl from the pack. I can tell they are in the trees where I last saw them. No wonder I could not find them from Longs!

I turn my scope north and see a vague shape that could be a wolf (or a coyote) moving in that area, but poor visibility prevents me from being sure.

Laurie & Dan arrive, as does Rick. We try to decide whether it makes any sense to stay. Rick says I should skip Tower and go to Cooke for my gas due to a big price difference.

Around 10:30 we head east. Our drive through Lamar is crazy. Fog and snow make it nearly impossible to see the road, to distinguish where the edges of the road are. We have to concentrate on the snow poles on either side. I donít feel safe going much over 20mph.

The falling snow is so thick that it covers Laurie & Danís taillights!

I am happy when we get to Round Prairie, because itís always easier to drive in the forested areas than in the open valleys. As Laurie says, driving in these conditions can be exhausting!

Most of all I am astonished that we saw wolves on a day with such bad visibility.

Today I saw: bison, 2 coyotes, 16 Junction wolves a lot of snow and the spirits of Allison, Richard and Jeff.

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