DAY TEN - Monday, January 22

DISTANT WOLVES

No new snow today, and the ďnormalĒ temp continues.

I stop at Footbridge to see if 1048 is still around. A lovely sunrise begins but no wolves appear.

I scope at Dorothyís then at Slough. Everyone is spread out but not finding anything.

I drive further west and scope from Boulder hill. I see Taylor in the next lot to the west looking east/northeast.

Laurie calls to say come this way. I join her at Straightaway. Jeremy has found the Junctions far to the east on a wide open snow-covered slope - 5 miles away! With Laurieís help, I see a black, then a second one. They are passing a bison herd. The bison look like ants and the wolves look like fleas!

Then I see several more flea-wolves to the right, even more distant. I realize they are on the slopes north of Fishermanís and Coyote. The crew begins packing up to head to Lamar, so I do too.

I find parking in a dirt/snow lot west of Fishermanís with Laurie and Dan and Rick. Laurie finds the wolves quickly, to the right and above the shale forest. I find the same bison herd I saw from 5 miles away. They are not close, but at least they look like bison!

A single black is well above them, just below skyline. Laurie says ďpan rightĒ so I do and see the larger group on the edge of a higher slope. I recognize the alpha male and 907, with more wolves above them.

They stop and look back at the black straggler. Iím up to seven wolves now in this closer view. Alas, they soon disappear over the skyline.

I move east and scope from Dorothyís but have no luck. After about a half hour, someone at the Ranch radios to say they found them, so I go there.

We look north above the pointed roofs of the cabins. I find elk in the area, so I watch them, knowing that elk often will tell you where the wolves area.

My friend Veronica shows up with her photographer group. Two days ago they had a fantastic sighting of Wapitis who had attacked a bison on the far shore of the Firehole.

While she and I are talking, the elk start to run. Some people call out that wolves are chasing elk but I donít see any wolves behind them.

A little later, two elk emerge from the tree line to the left, staring back at a spot to the east, the way Iíve seen them do when one of them has been caught. A few birds fly towards that spot, including a bald eagle. Hmm.

For the next half hour no one has anything. The wolves may have made a kill but if so, itís out of sight.

People start to drift away. Laurie and Dan head in for the day and Rick goes up to the barn to give a talk to a group from Teton Science. I stay at my scope for no particular reason except than itís a nice day and I feel like scoping some more.

Veronica and her group moves on. I chat with other visitors. Nothing happens for nearly an hour. Then, around 11:00, we hear a single howl from the same general area. Shortly afterwards, a black wolf walks right into my scope. Unfortunately, itís gone in a flash, moving west.

I stay another half hour, eager for more activity but no other wolves appear, so I head back east.

At Confluence, I get VERY lucky and see an otter. Itís just a brief view, but itís my first otter in quite a while.

Heís a big boy, popping his whiskered head above the fast-flowing water, pausing to gaze at his adoring audience on the road. He dives, reappearing a bit downstream, and hops up onto a ledge of ice attached to the far bank. He sits on the ice a while, grooming himself, then slips back under the dark water.

I wait hopefully for about 15 minutes, but I donít see him again.

Today I saw: bison, coyotes, a bald eagle, elk, an otter, 7 Junction wolves and the spirits of Allison, Richard and Jeff.


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