DAY TWELVE - Wednesday, January 24


Another 30 degree day with another inch of overnight snow.

I follow fox tracks in the road for a mile or two on the way down.

Round Prairie is full of fog and looks really pretty. The mountains are mere ghostly shapes.

Lamar is foggy too, with one long cloud hovering above the river and a second one shrouding the high peaks. A bison herd is visible close to the road.

I stop at Picnic to talk with Cameron. He says there is thick fog to the west as well. He’s going east to check on Shrimp signals. He says Junctions are somewhere in Lamar but the signals are confusing.

I join Rick and Jeremy at the Ranch. Apparently, Jeremy believes they are somewhere to the north, but none of us find them. Behind us to the fog-filled south, we can sometimes see birds flitting about. They appear for a moment about the river-cloud, then disappear within it.

Two coyotes trot by near the edge of the cloud east to west. They disappear into the fog right where the birds were seen.

Well, something is going on in there, but it’s impossible to tell what. If it includes wolves, then they must be uncollared or Jeremy would know it. I joke that six bears and seven wolves could be dancing the polka out there, but we wouldn’t see them!

We keep “hope-scoping” to the north as well, but nothing develops.

Around 9:30 I head back east to finish packing and to clean. On the way I see a single bull moose bedded just west of Warm Creek on the south side. He has attracted three vans full of admirers.

Mr. Moose is still here when I come back through around 11, but he is now up from his morning nap, contentedly grazing.

Corn snow starts for fall as I enter Soda Butte Valley but it doesn’t last long. I find people still at the Ranch, still looking both north and south, with none in sight either direction. I am quite surprised that the fog is still obscuring the river and most of the flats, this late in the morning.

I say my goodbyes and continue west, driving roads bare of snow, or sometimes wet with melt.

I find out later, that long after I left, it was discovered that the Junctions DID have a small carcass south of the ranch today.

Up in the highest pullout of the OGR I have my visit with Allison. When I reach the Gardiner side I see lots of pronghorn, drawing numerous photographers.

The Yellowstone is no longer frozen solid like it was on my way in. Big chunks of ice, capped with snow line the far bank. But the water flows freely.

Today I saw: bison, coyotes, 2 bald eagles, 1 golden eagle, a moose, pronghorn and the spirits of Allison, Richard and Jeff.

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