DAY TEN - Monday, May 29

GRANNY STYLE

My legs are bad again this morning, probably because I only did a third of my stretches yesterday.

I start my day at Dougís lot. My first wolves are a gray and two blacks, coming in from the west. The gray goes immediately to the den while the two blacks are more hesitant. One black is large and dark (but without a white spot). Dark black stays back, just beyond the western trees, while the other black goes right into the den.

Not much else happens until almost 8AM, when we finally see the pups. They treat us to a delightful, extended play session, carefully attended by a single babysitter (1341F/1384F).

I have not yet seen 1276 today. 907 is here, but she has remained bedded all morning on the gully ridge. We only realize this gray lump is 907 when she rolls over. We now see her collar and her distinctive missing eye.

The pups to seem to be getting bolder each day, travelling further and further from the entrance to the den. They are now just over five weeks, so it makes sense that they are curious, but not yet adept.

Today they both disappear below the gully ridge for a while before they come wobbling back up the hill. I have not yet seen them go as far as the spring meadow, which I know will become a favorite spot once they find it.

Celia and Helena and I speculate on whether the pups belong to 907 or 1276. There is no way to know, of course, until and unless their DNA is run sometime in the future. But the wolves certainly donít seem to care.

Dan finds a cinnamon black bear roaming around above the den cliff. Itís too far away for the wolves to bother with it.

907 gets up and stretches. She walks slowly up the slope to the right of the den. She stops about half-way and sits on her haunches. The pups run to her and begin to nurse. Iíve never seen a female nurse pups this way but it looks comfortable for her. I think she just invented it. Laurie calls it ďgranny styleĒ.

Oh, the pups are so cute!

During the earlier lull in wolf action, we were entertained by a herd of bison with lots of calves just below us. The calves would dash about, bucking and wheeling, testing their little legs.

We have been serenaded by meadowlarks all morning. But we also hear a different bird sound too, also very pretty. Someone eventually tells us itís the song of a green towhee.

A courting pair of grizzlies come into view from this lot, way up high to the south on Specimen. While watching these bears I also find a small herd of bighorn sheep.

Around 9AM I hear coyotes bark-howling behind me. Dougís German Shepherd, Jackson, barks back at them. I turn around to try to find the coyote but see a wolf instead!

Itís 1276. I suspect she is just returning from a visit to the Lamar Ė since this is one of the usual routes from Secret Passage. She is now headed back to her pups, via Slough flats.

She trots confidently across the slope behind us, choosing her crossing spot. She crosses the campground road about half-way up the steep hill, which is a perfect place to avoid people both above and below.

Visitors are ecstatic! Some newbies rush towards 1276 to get a photo but the regulars call them back.

1276 knows how to do this and is not the slightest bit deterred. She quickly disappears into thick vegetation, but soon shows up again just south of a curve in the creek.

I love to see animals swim a waterway but I miss this part of her journey, as Iím just not high enough. Celia is the first to find her again, already on the lower part of the lion meadow near a clump of aspen. She passes beneath the small diagonal forest and is back at the den in no time at all.

907 and the pups wait near the den to greet her. 1276 sniffs the pups and they seem happy to see her. Several other adults converge at the den (the collared gray, brown-gray and two blacks).

At first, I think these three adults are dutifully greeting 1276, but then I realize they are hoping she has food for them! Hah. She ignores them and goes inside the den. The pups follow behind her.

After this, the action slows down. The day continues to warm and soon itís time to pack up. As I leave, there is one babysitter wolf napping on its side against the sage hill guarding the den.

On my way through Lamar, the weather changes and once again brings hail and rain.

There is no jam at the Confluence today, so I arrive in Silver Gate much sooner than usual.

I am the first one back, so I put the chocolate frosting Danís cake. Later, after dinner, we have a celebration for him. Kathie L drops by with a tasty cheese cake she got at the Gardiner Market.

We all go out for the evening. Laurie & Dan go to Slough while Maureen and Rick and Kathie and I stop at Dorothyís, to follow up on a report of wolves on Specimen in the early afternoon.

Despite some excellent scoping, we do not find wolves in Lamar. Instead, I find a black bear roaming the eastern end of Jasper, digging and rooting.

There was wind when we arrived, but itís gotten stronger, so I decide to head back east. I could see big crowds at Picnic and Trash can while scoping from Dorothyís.

I am hopeful that the crowd is seeing wolves, but itís not. Apparently, the Willow Bear has moved to the north of Trash Can Hill and is now grazing the thick grasses on the low hills in that area.

I stop in the lot to take a look at the bear, then continue east. Once I get around the curve at Confluence, the wind dies down. I stop, with Maureen and Rick, at Soda Butte East to scan a bit for the Shrimp Lake Pack. Instead, Rick ends up finding another grizzly way up high to the south on one of the fingers.

Then Maureen spots a moose just east of Pebble, which turns into three moose!

On the way back, the rainy weather creates a beautiful mist that lingers and drifts among the mountains.

Today I saw: 4 grizzly bears, 2 black bears, bison (and calves), sandhill cranes, a coyote, mule deer, elk, geese, a green towhee, a meadowlark, 3 moose, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, 9 Junction wolves (including 907, 1276F, two collared grays, brown-gray, two uncollared blacks plus both pups) and the spirits of Allison, Richard and Jeff.


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