DAY TEN - Thursday, December 7


Another warm morning, but this one brings an additional dusting of overnight snow.

It’s snowing lightly now, with the prediction calling for snow all day. Visibility in the Soda Butte valley is poor. It’s even worse in Lamar and not much better in Little America.

I continue driving past Boulder. There are several cars parked in front of the barricades at Wrecker (the main pullout is still closed due to the bridge construction).

I end up at the big lot near Petrified tree, while Dan and Laurie go to Elk Creek. The crew must have signals at Wrecker, but a friend with a radio there tells us they are looking towards the Trough but have no visuals.

Around 8:30 Dan makes a great spot of a few wolves walking in deep sage on the ridge behind Flat Top. I arrive in time to see them; two blacks and one gray, for a brief moment before they disappear into the veil of falling snow.

The wolves seemed to be going west, and I make note of an unusual “stunted” tree above them.

We go on to Lower Hellroaring, where visibility is quite poor. We look anyway but don’t find anything.

Around 9:15 I go back to the big lot near Petrified Tree. I am surprised to find both crews here, without wolves in view. Doug Smith is here, too, in advance of his appearance at Yellowstone Forever, for the “unveiling” of George Bauman’s sculpture of 42F.

Doug and Rick will speak at the event and Bob will present some of his wonderful footage. As much as their involvement interests me, I am not planning to attend, since its late afternoon start would require a long drive back through the Park just as the light is fading. But it’s being recorded, so I’ll get to watch it later.

While I continue to scan for wolves, a lively conversation develops among the various crew members and Doug upon which I cannot help but eavesdrop, along with numerous Park visitors who do the same. At one point, some opinions are expressed much too loudly given the number of non-regular visitors within earshot, and I find myself a bit startled.

The snow lets up for a bit and I find the “stunted” tree which I saw near the wolves Dan found from Elk Creek. It takes me a while to reconcile the differences between the two angles. I recognize the stretch of deep sage below the stunted tree and realize I probably could have seen Dan’s wolves from this lot if I’d known the terrain better.

This tree grows in the middle of a drainage, which further imprints the location on my mind. As I study the landscape, a black wolf walks right into my scope.

I call out “I have a wolf!”

I wave Taylor over to my scope because I don’t know how to describe to her where I’m looking. She sees the wolf through my scope and announces “it’s on the lip of the trough”.

She goes to help Doug see it while a young cluster crew member near me asks to look in my scope. I step aside to give her access.

“Yay Wendy” Taylor calls.

Unfortunately, the wolf doesn’t stay in view very long. It disappears over the lip, going back into the Trough. I stay a while anyway but never find it again, nor any others.

The snow increases again, so around 11AM I pack up to head east.

On my way down the hill towards Tower, a substantial herd of elk crosses the road from north to south, just west of the Ranger Station. They head up towards One Tree Hill.

I find Rick scoping from Boulder. He says for a while there were good signals from here but they have since faded. He says he never found any wolves.

We hear coyotes barking to the north and finally locate them. I find a bald eagle perched in a tree, too. Viewing remains difficult, though due to the falling snow.

When an even thicker squall arrives, I call it a day.

The snow continues all afternoon, so we do not go back out.

Today I saw: bison, coyotes, elk, three wolves (all likely Junctions) and the spirits of Allison, Richard and Jeff.

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