DAY SIX - Sunday, December 3


I brush off about two additional inches of snow this morning. It’s 19 degrees. The moon is out, so I hope that means the snow is done.

This time the valley has received some snow accumulation. It looks really nice.

A lovely sunrise begins while I scope from Dorothy’s, but find only bison. Next stop is Slough where I talk with Bob again. I mention the snow level and he says he remembers that in 1997 there was barely any snow by Christmas, but in January, the Park got walloped, and it kept up for months.

I go back to Dorothy’s and find the crew car, but it’s empty. Aha! There they are, climbing Cardiac Hill.

I don’t think I should attempt it myself, due to my heart monitor. The new snow will be slippery, too, I rationalize. Others are more intrepid, including Jeff.

He radios from up top that he has Junctions in view. Something tells me to stay here today, rather than trying elsewhere, so I listen to that voice and scope from the lot.

Over the next two hours, I find six bull elk, two coyotes and a bald eagle. But it’s now approaching 10AM and I still haven’t seen a wolf. I stick around a little longer anyway. At just about 10:30, Jeff calls again with welcome news: the Junctions are moving east!

I train my scope on the “scrawny grove”, and a black wolf trots right into my view! Soon afterwards I have the alpha male and two grays in the same area, at the eastern end of the Bench.

The pullout starts to buzz with excitement as everyone wants to see. I follow the wolves across the “gap” between Jasper and Amethyst. More and more of them join the trek.

They are taking their usual route to Amethyst drainage so I move to the Ranch for a closer view. I arrive just in time to see them burst out of the trees, causing a bison herd below them to bunch up.

Several grays (probably yearlings) rush the herd, while the two black leaders just keep going east. The bison stand their ground and soon the grays follow the rest.

The pack would not win any medals today for line formation – they are far too randomly scattered for that. But they are cohesive enough for my count to rise to 10; five grays and five blacks.

Both alphas are now towards the back. The pup is accompanied by a gray. These two often interrupt their progress with some charming, bouncy play.

As the wolves cross the Big Fan, one black turns upslope towards the trees, and several others follow. So now there are two groups: one traveling just inside the tree line and a more visible group out in the open.

The visible group treks all the way to Chalcedony before stopping for a break.

A few of the wolves from the group in the trees come out and join the bedded ones.

I move east and join other watchers on Trash Can Hill, but unfortunately, they do not stay bedded for long. They get up and continue east and south, on their usual route towards upper Lamar and Cache Creek.

This time they form a far more disciplined line and have that “on a mission” look. All too soon, they go out of sight.

The logical next place to go is Geriatric, but a lot of snow has accumulated in the narrow spot where I usually park, and I don’t want to risk getting stuck.

I end up scoping from Footbridge, but I never find them.

It’s now 12:30 and snowing heavily. With no wolves in sight, I go back to Silver Gate.

Today I saw: bison, two coyotes, a bald eagle, several elk, 10 Junction wolves (including the alpha pair, 1386F, the pup and 6 others) and the spirits of Allison, Richard and Jeff.

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