DAY ELEVEN - Tuesday, May 30


I arrive at Slough in the still dark, joining Doug and Celia in the still-dark. Rick is just behind me.

As I am setting up, Doug informs us that several Junctions are heading out via Aspen Pass. He says they were howling in the dark. Although the light is still dim, I manage to see the last three disappear through Aspen Pass.

“How many did you see?” I ask. “Nine” he replies, “including the alpha”.

I scan around, hoping there might still be a few wolves in the area, guarding the pups but I find none. So I hope maybe they are still inside the den.

A short time after this four coyotes trot from west to east just below the gully ridge, aiming for the Diagonal Forest.

Then Doug finds wolves near the Marge Simpson tree. Aha! It looks like some in the hunting party did not continue west, but wandered down towards the flats.

I see five, milling about, sniffing, mostly wandering casually about. While they do this, a small band of elk, including one with a limp, sneaks past the wolves on the opposite side of the creek, using the thick willows of the area as cover. The wolves never seem aware of them.

The five are hard to keep track of, since there is ample vegetation in that area to hide them. For a while I only have sporadic glimpses and it’s hard to read the story of what they are doing.

But then, a collared black emerges on the right end of the flats. Turns out this is 1276F. She is carrying something in her mouth, trotting towards the lion meadow.

Doug thinks it’s a duck but it looks furry to me.

So I guess the wolves were hunting in the flats for small critters.1276 seems quite proud of herself as she trots along. Mocha and a dark black follow closely behind.

As she nears the den, two gray adults come out to greet her, along with another dark black. And there are the pups!

1276 stops to sit behind a tall tussock near the den and begins to eat the critter she caught. The pups look on, curious but cautious. One of the grays grabs a piece and carries it off to the gully.

I am briefly distracted by a radio call reporting that the courting pair of grizzlies are visible again up on Specimen. Many people swing their scopes to the south.

After I have a look at the bears (and share the view with a few folk) I turn back to the den. The pups are headed off on a walkabout. They romp after each other, switching places fairly often. It seems like they both like to lead.

The adult wolves are finished eating and have taken to their bedding spots. When the pups tire of their adventure, they follow 1276 back inside the den.

The morning activity slows a bit.

Dan finds an elk cow with a new calf below the Southern Round tree. Oh, how sweet! My first elk calf of this year.

The day has grown quite warm, approaching 75 and boy, can I feel it!

I head east and while I’m waiting at the light at Canyon, I use the time to shed a few layers and change out of my boots into my Tevas. Ahhh! That’s better.

Just past the Soda Cone I see John W standing just off the road to the north. His scope is pointing northwest.

I pull over and join him. He says I just missed seeing two Shrimps, 1228F and the black yearling. He had them for about 20 minutes moving west on the hill but they have gone into the trees.

We scope and chat for a bit, but the wolves never come back into view. I need to get out of the sun, though, so I bid him adieu and continue east.

When I arrive at Laurie’s I see the mama moose emerge from the willows and cross the road. I stand at my car, watching her walk through the marsh in front of the house. She passes the propane tank and continues up the hill where she nibbles on pine needles.

When I get inside, she is still visible through Laurie’s kitchen window.

After a break, we all head out for the evening session.

The Baronette fox puts in an appearance and we have four bull bison in the road just east of Pebble.

After passing Trout Lake I see cars stopped ahead and a dozen people lining the road. I soon see why: the black female yearling of the Shrimp Lake Pack is in view to the north.

She’s in the same general area where we saw 1228F eating the bison calf a week ago.

Her head is down, and I think she found some morsel to eat. She moves east towards a spring trickling down the hill and takes a drink. Then she stands broadside looking at us, with what I imagine to be distrust.

She moves upslope into a thick stand of young willows. Seeing her move quietly through the thin trunks is a really cool thing to see.

She goes out of sight for a while, then reappears a bit higher on the same hill trending east.

It’s such a treat to see her. I’ve heard Maureen and Rick have wished for this several times out loud, so they are happy, too.

We find excellent cloud cover when we arrive at Slough. Celia fills us in that six wolves headed west over the high pass around 6PM. Other wolves are here but not in view at the moment. They are bedded behind the eastern trees.

Still, we enjoy the evening, chatting and watching bison, geese, sandhills and pronghorn. Around 8PM some gusty winds chase us back to our cars and home.

Today I saw: 2 grizzly bears, bison, a chipmunk, coyotes, mule deer, elk, a moose, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, 10 wolves; 9 Junctions (including the alpha male, 1276F, a collared gray (1341 or 1384) brown-gray, 2 uncollared dark blacks, mocha, 2 pups) and 1 Shrimp Lake wolf (black female yearling) and the spirits of Allison, Richard and Jeff.

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