DAY TWO - Monday, October 21


I’m up and out at 6:35. It’s 37 degrees and lightly raining.

My first stop is at Trash Can. I lower the window a bit to listen for howling. It’s still raining and there is a bit of fog. I hear no howling nor any radio reports.

I sip my coffee in the growing light and think above how much less crowded the Park is compared to a month ago. I always prefer it empty!

No one seems to have anything yet, so I continue west, aiming for Slough. Rick goes to Crystal. At Slough I hear coyotes alarm-barking to the south so I try to figure out what that’s about.

Laurie calls “Come to Round Prairie”. I relay to units west of me and drive east.

Once I pass the cone, Laurie calls again to say that the wolves have travelled west on the south side and are no longer in view from Round Prairie.

So we spread out in Soda Butte Valley, filling the small eastern lot, the logs lot and Soda Butte midpoint.

Rick and I are at the Midpoint lot and we hear a single wolf howling from the trees to the east.

Laurie & Dan join us and fill me in. She says hey missed the sighting, but Russ saw four wolves, two blacks and two grays, traveling past the berm on the south side, heading west. Given that Junctions were seen in Soda Butte Valley yesterday, it is surmised that these four were Junctions.

There are a lot of eyes looking now, both high and low, so I feel sure we’ll find them.

Someone spots a bear up high on one of the eastern fingers of Norris. I find it and watch for about a half-minute before it disappears in a fog bank.

Then Travis, a guide scoping from Round Prairie, calls to say he has wolves in view.

Laurie and Dan and I find room at the north-side dirt lot west of the campground. By this time a light rain is falling but we scope anyway.

Laurie finds two grays, both uncollared in the meadow south of the creek, looking to the west. I get them in my scope, believing that these wolves are Junctions. But as Laurie gets a better look, she says “these are not adult wolves, they’re pups!”

We know the Junctions have no gray pups, so we are looking at the Shrimps! (the pups are about 7 months old)

The two wolves come together right at the tree line, moving slowly east, often turning around and looking west. I wonder where these two were when the four Junctions came by?

Travis calls out that he sees another gray. When we get eyes on it, it’s clear that this one is NOT a pup. It moves slowly parallel to the creek, heading east, howling on and off, turning this way and that.

I hear no response. The wolf does a “lean forward’ proving himself a male. He moves a few more feet, then beds down. I note he has a thick ruff at his throat, a slate gray back and white haunches.

This gray is pretty close to the two pups and they are aware of him. Judging by how comfortable they all are in relative proximity, I am confident that this adult gray is their older brother.

He gets up again, sniffing several trees. A coyote trots by on our side of the creek, heading east, keeping his distance from the wolf.

The pups walk slowly back into the trees and go out of sight.

I look around to see all the people watching and notice Calvin and Lynette a few cars down. We have a happy greeting. This is their first look at Shrimp Lake wolves.

The gray male remains in view for a bit, still howling on and off. We speculate that perhaps there was some kind of altercation between the Shrimps and the Junctions last night or earlier this morning.

Then I hear that the four Junctions were spotted briefly a while ago close to where I glimpsed the grizzly.

Although the gray male is still in view, we decide to head back to Soda Butte Valley to find the traveling Junction group.

I go to Footbridge but Kathie goes further, stopping to look from Picnic. She radios that she’s found a single black wolf in view to the south. Calvin and Lynette and I climb up Trash Can hill. Soon they find Kathie’s black plus a gray.

The wolves seem to be traveling south, towards Cache.

The rain has never let up, and these wolves are going away from us. Once I lose sight of them, I call it a day.

After a nice break in Silver Gate, we head back out around 5:30.

It’s still drizzling and there is now snow visible on the high peaks.

We had hoped to find some of the Shrimp Lake pack at Round Prairie but have no luck. We continue to Picnic where we find Fay and Dale. They had some sporadic sightings of the pup and a gray earlier this afternoon but there is nothing in view now.

We set up our scopes anyway, but after a few minutes, a new rain squall comes in. It starts pouring buckets, so we fold up our tents and head back home.

Today I saw: bison, a grizzly bear, a coyote, elk, 5 wolves: 3 Shimp Lake Pack (two gray pups and the uncollared gray male yearling) and 2 Junctions (a black and a gray) and the spirits of Allison and Richard.

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