DAY EIGHT - Saturday, May 27

FIVE FEEDINGS

Another day, another drive in the dark.

Once again I join Doug in his favorite pullout. Right off the bat I see 907 lying on her side to the right of the den, nursing both pups. They are out early today!

There are a few other wolves here, too: Mocha, the dark black, and a collared gray (either 1341 or 1384). Jeremy says even he canít tell them apart!

The collared gray stands up and howls a bit. The pups finish breakfast and roam around a bit, but soon they disappear back into the den. The collared gray follows them.

For about an hour there is little activity. But then several wolves arrive from the west. In this group is the alpha male, Espresso (a mottled uncollared black), a light gray with a wide back stripe, a large uncollared gray (perhaps 1340) and a collared black (probably 1383F).

Each of these wolves is mobbed by the den-area adults. Everyone gets fed. Both mother wolves are fed twice. But today the babysitter wolves get lucky, too.

A sixth adult arrives belatedly from the west; this on is a largish, dark black with a white spot on his chest. I donít think Iíve seen this wolf in the den area before. A little later, White Spot is confirmed the be a male, which is notable since the Junctions have so few males altogether.

After the feeding, the pups emerge again and stay out longer than usual. They do quite a bit of wandering, up and down, east and west. I am finally coming to accept that there are just two pups this year. Itís a little disappointing, but the Junctions are a really large pack and donít need another high-count pup year.

The happily fed adults wander in various directions, seeking bedding spots. When 907 goes back inside the den, the pups follow her.

I notice a bald eagle on the ground out to the southwest, eating something. There are numerous white feathers scattered all around. Uh oh, I wonder if it caught one of the pelicans I saw the other day?

Around 11AM it looks like a storm is headed our way, so I pack up and go east. While Iím waiting at the light it starts hailing. Soon the hail turns to rain. I drive in a steady drizzle all the way to Northeast.

The day remains gloomy and rainy, but after a break in Silver Gate, I head back out. I promised John W Iíd see him at Slough tonight.

On the way down, I see quite a few mule deer in the high meadows. Iím glad to see them. Laurie and I had been wondering why weíd not seen any so far this spring. I think they were just waiting for the high meadows to finally green up.

The drizzle does not stop the Willow bear from feeding, nor the crowd from gathering to admire it. From Hitching Post to Confluence East, the road is packed once again.

At Confluence I see Bob L set up at the west end of the guard rail, with his big camera pointing upriver. He says there is a small carcass on a sand bar and another bear is headed right towards it.

There is nowhere to park so I wish him luck and drive on. When I get to Slough the rain finally stops. I find John W at lower Bobís.

Laurie & Dan join us and we have a nice time visiting and watching wolves. The clouds cover the sun, making our viewing easy. John says the black pup was out about a half hour ago. It took a walkabout far to the east and back. He also says I just missed six adults headed to the west.

Right now I see two bedded wolves: 1276F and Brown-gray. Then, to our delight, both pups come out for another brief exploratory romp around the wet ground.

Around 8PM the clouds break up and suddenly we have sun in our eyes. So, we head west to Boulder to see if we can find the hunting party.

From Boulder we find elk and bison and pronghorn but no wolves. For some reason, the light tonight is just gorgeous. Itís probably related to the rain. It really makes the colors intense!

Around 8:30 we bid each other goodnight and go our separate ways. On the way back, Laurie & Dan and I find ourselves behind two giant construction trucks. The trucks get caught, just as we do, behind a steady stream of Slo Goes and Stop-In-The-Roads.

Traffic comes to a complete stop at Confluence due to several nutty drivers. Bob is no longer here, but I spot his bear walking upriver. When the trucks start moving again, the noise they make is so loud that it spooks the bear. He gallops off like the devil is after him, looking back over his shoulder a few times.

It takes 15 minutes to get from Confluence to Hitching Post, but at least we get several glimpses of the Willow bear as we go.

The two giant trucks are being escorted by two pickup trucks, one ahead, one behind. When they get to Pebble, they all stop for the lead pickup to unlock the gate. Apparently, the long trucks park here overnight, while the drivers are taken to Cooke. The trucks are so long, itís hard to make the 45 degree turn. The first one manages, but the second one gets stuck.

The guy in the lead pick-up is kind enough to let us (and the four or five cars behind us) travel on, while they figure out how to get the truck unstuck!

Yellowstone is a hard place for construction workers!

Today I saw: 2 grizzly bears, bison (and calves), a coyote, mule deer, a bald eagle, elk, pronghorn, 12 Junction wolves (including AM, 907F, 1276F, a collared gray (1341 or 1384), a collared black (1383 or 1385), a large, dark gray (possibly 1340M), dark black with white spot, espresso, mocha, light gray with stripe, plus both pups) and the spirits of Allison, Richard and Jeff.

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