DAY FOUR - Tuesday, May 23


I set off at 4:35 with a temp of 43 degrees.

My legs are mildly troublesome today, which is actually an improvement.

Today I start my watch at Doug’s lot. He already has the alpha male in view when I arrive. I see a repeat of yesterday when a young black wolf with a tightly tucked tail approaches the alpha for a greeting. Once that task is accomplished, the youngster moves down to the gully where it greets a gray bedded there.

As usual there are elk grazing the area again. The young uncollared black wanders over to the grazing elk but nothing develops and the wolf loses interest.

1383F appears, walking along the gully ridge to the east. 1276F emerges from the den, shaking off dust. A gray bedded to the right of the den gets up and then…out of the den come the two pups! One black and one gray.

Now 907F emerges, shaking the dust from her coat. Both pups nurse from 1276F, who remains standing. A new black wolf arrives near the eastern trees, drawing the attention of 907 and a collared gray who rush the arriving black wolf, soliciting food.

Both wolves get fed. After this feeding, the pups go back into the den and all the visible adults are bedded down. There is a bit of a lull so we start looking for other animals.

Soon, though, eagle-eyed Doug finds a wolf in the flats. He adds that it seems to be feeding on something out there.

I follow his directions and find the wolf I call Mocha. Nearby is a motionless dark lump with horns, bison horns. I also see many birds hopping on the ground and perched on nearby branches.

I don’t know if this is new or old, but Mocha feeds at this spot for a good half hour. Once she’s finished, she takes a slow walk back uphill to the den via the lion meadow. I expect her to go to the den but she passes below it and heads to the gully. The uncollared gray is there (1341F or 1384F) who greets her, asking for food.

A little later, we are treated to a second appearance by the pups. Again, I see only two; one black and one gray. They don’t stay out long. Most people keep hoping there are more than two pups, but I never see more than two at the same time.

The day has been overcast and cool, but the sun has now risen above the hill behind us, and the warms quickly. Around 10:30 I head back east.

On my way through Lamar Canyon, I notice two pieces of driftwood resting on top of the indicator rock. They were definitely not there yesterday, so I assume they were deposited at night when the water temporarily overtopped the rock. Rivers rise in the evening, swelling throughout the day as the snow melts.

There are more bison and calves in Lamar today than there were yesterday. It’s nice to see them mowing the green, green grass. The Willow Grizzly is in view again, causing the now-typical Confluence jam.

While I’m in Silver Gate we have a hard downpour for about 5 minutes but by 5:30 the sky is clear again.

Laurie & Dan decide to stay in tonight, but I join Maureen & Rick when they head out at 6 for the evening.

All the remaining piles of dirty snow along the roadside left by the plows are finally receding. We get a bit of rain on the way down but the sky looks a bit brighter to the west.

Just east of Confluence, a bison herd of cows and calves is swimming the Soda Butte, which draws a crowd. One bison calf stands in ankle deep water just south of the road while its mom waits for it across the channel, mooing and grunting.

To me, the calf looks old enough and strong enough to make the crossing. It just needs to work up its courage to take the plunge. I hope this doesn’t turn into another “incident” when a visitor tries to be “helpfui”.

Traffic is at a standstill, so I enjoy the view. The calf goes for it. The current drags it a bit but it quickly reaches a hidden sandbar. This gives the calf all the confidence it needs. It boldly splashes through the next channel to the safety of mom.

Once through the jam I continue to Slough. I go on down to the gravel pile lot, where I find Michael and Matt. The Junctions are howling as I arrive.

I set up quickly and see six wolves in a rally near the goal post tree and four more rallying near the Eastern Trees. At the den I see both mothers and both pups. The rallying wolves all set off to the west. 907 lies down to nurse the black pup, while the gray one goes back into the den.

Michael has ventured out closer to the creek where he can see the carcass in the flats. He calls to say there is a collared gray feeding there. Matt and I join him, watching either 1341F or 1384F. After a few minutes, we get some rain.

We brave it for a while, but when it gets heavier, we head back to our cars. Suddenly there is thunder and lightning and the rain turns to hail. It lasts about 15 minutes.

Once it tapers off, I go back out but the wolf is gone. I see no wolves at all in the den area. As I head once more back to my car, there is a rainbow – in fact a double!

It’s huge and very bright, the brightest double I think I’ve ever seen. My sister says all rainbows are doubles – mirror images of each other - but most of the time the second one is too faint to see.

I head back east, happy that the dust has been tamped down. Thank you, rain!

Today I saw: 1 grizzly bear, bison (and calves), sandhill cranes, elk, pronghorn, a double rainbow, 14 Junction wolves (including Alpha male, 907F, 1276F, a collared black, a collared gray (1341F or 1384F), mocha, 3 uncollared blacks, 3 uncollared grays plus both pups) and the spirits of Allison, Richard and Jeff.

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