DAY TWO - Wednesday, June 21

EARLY JUNCTIONS AND ONE RESCUE PUP

I leave Silver Gate at 4:30. Today is the first day of summer and I come out to frost on the car! Itís a chilly 29 degrees.

As I round the curve past Confluence, the radio crackles to life. Gary reports wolves on Amethyst bench, headed east.

I see Paul on Trash Can Hill so I join him, watching a group of Junctions passing the big fan, about half-way between the river and the treeline. I count 11; 7 black and 4 gray. The only ones I can ID are 1276F and the alpha male.

There are two wary elk up by the tree line watching the wolves, but the pack trots on by, ignoring them.

They reach the western foothills and some of them bed down. There is a bison herd here and I see various bison tails lift up. Only one black wolf pays any attention to the herd. Four of the wolves donít even stop.

A single bison approaches the bedded wolves, making them get up. The bison chases them for a bit, making us chuckle.

I am delighted to have seen wolves so easily this morning. But itís clear they will not be in sight very long. It looks like they are aiming for their route along the river corridor, which often takes them out of sight towards Cache Creek. The leaders are already out of view.

I notice a gray that has fallen way behind the others. The gray finally kicks into high gear to catch up.

I decide to leave, giving myself a chance to stop at the Blacktail before the Conference starts. I thank Gary for the call and bid Paul adieu, then hike down to my car.

Itís nice to drive through Little America on the first day of summer with almost no other cars. I wonder if the construction is keeping some people away? At Boulder Pond, a lovely morning mist is rising.

When I get to Nature Trail, I find Doug already here. I pull in and join him. Itís colder here this morning, only 28!

Bill W joins us and I show him where Doug told me to look. Itís a long way out there!

The area is a bit east of the place where I used to see 8 Mile wolves several years ago. A narrow green meadow is bordered by a single line of trees in front and a thick forest in back.

Above the thick forest is another low hill. The wolves can sometimes be seen in the gaps between the trees on both these hills.

Doug has three in view. It takes me a while, but I manage to see two of the three, a gray adult and a black pup. The size difference between the animals is quite noticeable.

When the wolves move out of sight, Doug shows me video he took earlier of five pups! Oh, I am sorry to have missed that! He says there are likely more out there today but they stay hidden behind the trees.

All too soon, Bill and I have to leave for the Conference. I have brought special pillows to support my back. The place is almost full when we check in, but we find seats in the back.

Superintendent Sholly gives a great welcome talk. I really like this guy!

There are not very many Yellowstone wolf-watchers here; the crowd seems to be about half from Colorado, where wolves are about to be reintroduced. I do see Julie A, Helena E, and all-grown-up Story W, whom I met in Lamar when she was 15. She and her dad Dave would sit at Hitching Post watching for Lamar Canyon pups. 926F was not yet alpha then. Story still lives in Oregon and works for the Humane Society.

I meet other interesting people, too; Steve, who works for Defenders of Wildlife, Olivia who runs a wildlife non-profit in Colorado Springs, and Tammy, a student at MSU majoring in wildlife conservation.

The day ends before dinnertime, so I check in at the Super 8 and hit the sack early.

Today I saw: bison, elk, pronghorn, 13 wolves (including 11 Junctions (1276F, possibly the alpha male and 8 others) and 2 Rescues (gray adult and black pup) and the spirits of Allison, Richard and Jeff.


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