DAY EIGHT - Tuesday, January 31


After yesterday’s record lows, it feels warm this morning at “only” minus 2!

I’m all packed up for the drive back to Bozeman today.

Skies are mostly cloudy, and the road is good. The coldest temperature I see today is minus 12 at Footbridge.

My first stop is at Dorothy’s, hoping the Junctions are still where we left them. But alas, they are not. Visibility is good and I scope all over, checking every spot where they are likely to be. We hear a lone howl, in the vicinity of Ski Slope. So I concentrate on that area.

Jeremy stops by and says they are getting fairly good signals, but no one has had any visuals yet. He adds that the Ranch offers the best chance.

Laurie & Dan stay at Dorothy’s with Taylor while I join Jeremy and Dylan near the Barn.

We search and search, looking all over Amethyst mountain, all over ski slope, square meadow and the edges of the forests. Dylan finds a single bull elk in a clearing at the bottom of ski slope, but it seems very relaxed.

Both sides of ski slope are thickly forested but I still try every clearing I find.

Dylan and Jeremy think they may have a carcass back in the trees somewhere, because the signals indicate they are in place rather than moving.

Although the sun is up, the morning temps remain cold. My toes are not happy at all. We chat can catch up while we scope as hard as we can.

There is a rainbow on one side, just half a sun dog. Maybe I missed it but I think the full phenomenon never developed. I find a bald eagle in a cottonwood tree.

Around 10AM I decide to save my toes and head west. I bid them all adieu, hoping that perhaps the wolves will emerge once I leave. Jeremy suggests I stop at Hellroaring to look for 1382F.

On the way west I see a coyote at upper Elk Creek and stop several times for bison in the road.

At Hellroaring I set up and scope for 1382F, finally find a spot not blocked by the high snow berms that the plows have piled up. I don’t find anything but bison and another bull elk, but I don’t stay long because my poor toes are still not thawed out.

As I cross the high bridge, I notice the temperature has risen to 5 degrees ABOVE zero. Woo hoo! And I notice a lot less snow on the ground in Mammoth.

I have my visit with Allison across from her resting place on Kite Hill and continue down the steep, winding road. Below me I see cars stopped and a dog – a domestic dog – standing in the road. The drivers all seem to be concerned for the poor thing.

When I first see the dog, he is running uphill towards me. I stop and open my car door because I don’t want him to run further up the road. In response, the dog stops, turns around and begins to run back downhill.

Drivers are very careful of him which is heartening to see. Everyone follows slowly until he eventually gets back to Gardiner. My last view is of the dog trotting between the maintenance barns.

I sure hope he gets home ok.

I have an easy enough drive back along 89 until I get close to Livingston, where everyone slows down due to ice and snow on the road. I-90 is a mess, though, and is closed east of Livingston all the way to Big Timber.

The section I drive is full of ice and snow, but the silver lining is that it’s so bad that everyone slows down.

Close to the Pass, I can see that the east bound lanes are closed so police can clear a jackknifed semi.

I am happy to get home before 2PM.

Today I saw: bison, coyotes, mule deer, elk, a lost dog and the spirits of Allison, Richard and Jeff.

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