DAY FIVE - Saturday, December 2


I come out to another half inch of snow on the car. Itís so powdery I can blow it off.

Just like yesterday, the snow stops at Trout Lake.

I see nothing happening in Lamar so I continue west. At Slough, Rick recommends we stop in the lot and look above the pass at a bison herd. He says the Junctions are passing below the herd.

Dan finds two for a split second but I am not quick enough. They are soon out of sight heading west.

We follow the crew to Boulder, where the wolves show up again west of Momís ridge. I see one bedded black, then two more to the left of that one. They are in sight for only a second or two, making it hard to help other people.

The crew goes on to Elk Creek. No parking there, so I join Rick at Petrified Tree. It takes a while, but I actually find them! They are still pretty high but have moved past the dreaded Trough.

They move through a shallow drainage below the ďgreen thingĒ (a signal repeater board for the Park service). They seem to be aiming for Buffalo Creek.

I count six wolves before I lose them in a gully. I follow Rick as we caravan west to Hellroaring.

Since there are so few people here, all the cars and vans fit in the lot. Jeremy and his crew have them coming out of Little Buffalo Creek, a bit higher than their usual route. It takes a while but I finally get my eyes on them.

The wolves cross the open slope and my count rises to 10, including the alphas, the pup, 1385F, 1386F and several grays. Itís 1386F in the lead, and I happily note her bunny slippers (since there is no snow here to hide them).

They reach the frozen pond just east of the creek. There are a few bison bedded in the willows on the far side of the pond. 1386F sinks down into a stalking posture, walking across the frozen surface. A gray joins her. They stop 2/3 of the way across and stand broadside for a bit, watching the bison.

The pup follows them across the ice, but half-way across, she flops down, with her legs sprawled out. She seems to be licking the surface. Itís cute.

Soon, the wolves give up on the bison, and simply continue west. They parallel the creek for a while, then cross and come out the other side.

One of them starts to howl and soon they all join in. They converge in a bouncy, happy rally. After this they travel a bit more, then bed down at the bottom of the Tornado drainage.

Someone who just arrived mentions that the Rescue Pack is visible from the Nature Trail. Laurie and Dan and I figure, since we are this close, why not make it a two-pack day?

And we do, finding the Rescue Pack in the same spot as they were yesterday, on their bull elk carcass. Most have moved to bedding spots just out of sight but Jeff helps me find the ones still in view.

I see three pups. A gray is feeding on the carcass. To the left of that one a gray approaches a bedded black on a small hill. The black gets up and the two of them saunter down to the carcass. The gray carries a stick (or a bone)

The gray at the carcass sees the stick in itís siblings mouth and tries to grab it. The two grays tussle and chase around the hill. For a while the black watches, then jumps into the fray. All three chase each other, bouncing this way and that.

Once the pups settle down again, I become aware of a stiff wind. Itís been blowing since I arrived, but I was able to ignore it while the wolves were active!

Around 11AM I pack up and head back east.

Back at Hellroading the lot is empty except for the crew car. I set up and find the Junctions still bedded in the same place. I chat with the crew a bit, then continue east.

Today I saw: bison, elk, 13 wolves: 10 Junctions (including alpha pair, 1385, 1386, the pup and five others) plus 3 Rescue Creek (all pups) and the spirits of Allison, Richard and Jeff.

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