DAY ELEVEN - Friday, December 8


This morning I find more seasonable temperatures, at 16 degrees. And also at least 2 more inches of snow, with ice underneath.

My driverís side door is frozen shut!

But the moon is out, and the snow seems to have stopped for now.

There are numerous fox tracks in the road and sparkling diamond dust everywhere.

I stop at Round Prairie to fix my window. I always carry a spray de-icer that Chloe recommendond to me, years ago. It does the trick. Thanks, Chloe!

I find nothing happening in Lamar so I continue west. I can feel the layer of ice underneath the plowed snow, so I am extra careful.

I stop at Elk Creek but a low-lying cloud obscures the areas I want to scope. I hear lots of radio chatter, but no good news. It appears the Junctions are in the river corridor, where they cannot be seen, so a few crew members pack up to climb Vader Hill.

The Rescue Pack is not visible either.

I end up at the big lot near Petrified Tree again, scouring the landscape, looking for the stunted tree again.

Then we get word from a YF guide (Sam) that he sees wolves climbing up from the river corridor. He says they should become visible shortly, and that we should look between the two basalt cliffs.

Thank you, Sam!

I join Laurie and Dan at Rickís pullout. Thanks to Samís directions, Dan finds wolves on a rocky, snow-dusted knob above and between the two basalt cliffs. We learn that the Project thinks the Junctions may have been on a carcass in the river corridor yesterday and are now finished with it.

I am just happy to see wolves!

We have the alpha pair, 1386F, 1385F, the pup, and four grays for a normal count of 10 (5 & 5).

Once again, Laurie, Dan and I have this wolf sighting to ourselves. Laurie and I share observations of the various individuals, teaching ourselves how better to tell them apart (itís hard!)

The uncollared black female and the black pup are currently hard to distinguish, but this sighting gives us a better idea of which is which. Mostly because the pup has taken on a kind of brown/cocoa color while the yearling female is darker. She also often takes a submissive posture, while the pup does not display that behavior very often.

There is a single conifer on the knob under which most of the wolves have bedded. 1386 is again on the move, seeking a bedding spot away from the others. A black and a gray follow her into deep sage.

Apparently, this spot can be viewed from both Wrecker grade and Boulder, so plenty of people get to see these wolves.

At 9:15 the Junctions give us a nice group howl. Soon after, 1386 and her two pals begin to walk north. Eventually the alpha group gets up to follow.

We lose them for a bit but then they re-appear higher on the rocky, treed slope. There are a number of bull elk in and out of the scattered trees on the hillside above them. The wolves head in their direction.

Rick joins us. He and Laurie comment that they have never seen wolves on this particular slope before. I find that fascinating, because these two, more than any other people in the world, have seen Yellowstone wolves in just about every spot in the Northern Range!

A few times, 1386 starts to run and others follow. Then they stop and turn around. The three leaders change direction about six times. It looks like they are following the scent trail of something very interesting. Whether it might be another wolf or perhaps an injured elk, remains to be seen.

But they are definitely interested in following it.

They reach a shallow ravine with a line of trees on both sides. I lose most of them in this spot, but then Dan catches movement further east. I find them once again, thanks to his help.

But soon afterwards, they go into thicker trees and out of sight.

Itís now 11 and I consider heading in, feeling quite happy with this sighting.

But on my way east I see several cars stopped at Aspen, including the Junction crew.

Jeremy has found the Junctions again, directly north of here. I canít believe they got here this quickly!

I set up and find one black and one gray, higher on the ridge than they were when I last saw them. I note that this spot is above and east of the Conifer Aspen forest.

The wolves bed down in a rocky spot, and kind of konk out. I need a rest, myself, so around 12:30 I set off for Silver Gate. The day turned out ok after all.

The sun comes out in full, brightening the newly snow-covered ground.

Today I saw: bison, coyotes, a bald eagle, elk, 10 Junction wolves (alpha pair, 1385, 1386, black pup, an uncollared black and four grays) and the spirits of Allison, Richard and Jeff.

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