DAY EIGHT - Sunday, October 29

WOLVES AND WIND

The cold temps continue. This morning itís only 4 degrees!

But on the drive down, a bright full moon lights my way, making the mountains glow.

I drive all the way to Slough, park and pack up for the walk out. I find Dale and Fay and Lynette already here. Calvin sits it out in the car to protect his frostbitten nose from the unusual cold.

All twelve Junctions are in view when I arrive, bedded in two groups on low knobs on the far side of the creek.

We have only a little heads up, heads down movement until about 8AM when they begin to stir. They have a group howl and a rally.

After this some delightful play erupts between the pup, two grays and a black. They gang up on a gray, which rolls on its back for a while. It looks like one of the other wolves is licking its belly!

There is a brutal east wind this morning that just cuts into your face. I stuff one of my gloves on the right side of my hood to protect my nose, which works for a while.

The play dies down and a collared black sets off to the east. I was expecting the wolves to feed on the carcass this morning but instead they fall into line behind the black.

The line of wolves passes the bottom of the lion meadow, then turn east towards area below the diagonal forest. They stop several times they stop, standing broadside, staring east. Something is drawing their attention.

After each momentary pause, the wolves resume their trek. They pass below the horizontal forest, then angle towards the creek. The leaders start to run. We know we will lose them while they cross the creek but will likely see them when they come out the other side.

Except they donít come out. Hmmm. Looks like they stopped in the creek bottom. I notice a bald eagle perched in a nearby tree and someone else notices a single coyote to the right, looking back. The way they ran to that spot is the way they do when flushing birds (or coyotes) off a carcass.

Maybe there is something there, too?

Further right, on the far side of the campground road we notice a bison herd with calves. They are stopped near a stand of trees, looking back at the spot where we think the wolves are.

After about 15 minutes, a few wolves appear near the bison herd, but not the full pack.

Alas, scoping in this direction forces me to endure the brutally cold and cutting wind on my face. I stay as long as possible, but finally decide to seek the protection of my car.

I take a quick side trip to Tower for gas, and on my way back I talk to a group just returning to their cars. They tell me the Junctions left the area via Secret Passage.

I hope this means they will be in Lamar tomorrow!

I stop once more at Dorothyís, where the wind is still relentless but more tolerable. We scan the northern slopes, hoping to see the Junctions up there but find only bison and elk.

Around 11AM I call it a day and head back to Silver Gate.

The diamond dust is just as gorgeous on the way east as it was early this morning. Every patch of snow glitters like a Christmas postcard.

Today I saw: bison, a bald eagle, elk, 12 Junction wolves (including 907F, the alpha male, the pup, 1385F plus 8 others) and the spirits of Allison and Richard.

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