DAY SIX - Thursday, January 18


We gain a few more degrees today. I head out at 7AM at 20 above with another 2 inches of fresh snow and a bit of wind.

I stop at Picnic but find no wolves, nor coyotes. There are just birds. But then they suddenly flush and I see a small dark thing scurry behind the carcass lump. I’m still not sure what it was, but most likely a weasel or maybe a mink (judging from the shape and dark color).

I see Helena at Dorothy’s so we scope together for a bit. Laurie calls us to come to Slough, so we head there. The Project has found Junctions coming down east of Crystal drainage.

By the time I get set up I see five wolves traveling. Then I spot a bedded black a bit further west. The wolves move past a herd of bison but nothing develops. These wolves go out of view pretty quickly. The only one I can still see is the single bedded black.

On a hunch I try moving to Lamar Bridge and find better viewing from here. In addition to the bedded black (1386F) I see at least five bedded just at the edge of the trees.

For a while, though, there’s not much activity. Just a bit of “stand up, turn around, re-bed”. But I can ID the alphas and the pup. At one point, the pup is clearly restless and makes a valiant attempt to get the others up to play, but it doesn’t work.

As the day brightens, the wolves change bedding positions often enough for my count to rise. I can also ID 1385F with this group, for a total of 9.

We now have bright sun and 18 degrees, with a bit of wind now and again.

Around 10:30 we get a report of a single black traveling west through the Confluence. Hmm, who might that be?

We go east to suss it out. On the way I hear Rick calling about an accident at the Confluence, asking Laurie and Dan to stop at the Ranch to notify a Ranger which they do.

By the time I reach Trash Can, the single wolf has reached the Picnic carcass. Aha! It’s the tucked-tail black.

She is really tugging away. I enjoy watching her a while with Laurie and Dan and others. She elicits my sympathy, being alone here with only hide and bones while her pack is off to the west.

Around 11:30 I am ready to call it a day but on my way past Confluence I see Rick. Behind his car is a white car with front-end damage and a Ranger car. I guess Rick is here as a witness.

I pull over and walk towards him. I hear the Ranger says, “are you here to help Rick?” I finally put two and two together and realize that Rick himself was part of the accident.

Luckily, everyone is ok, other than a bit shook up. It was a low-speed head- on collision. The white car was traveling east. Rick was pulling out of the Confluence lot, headed west when the driver of the white car (perhaps distracted by the wolf traveling near the river) drifted across the yellow line and right into him.

His airbag popped open (as it should) and his car has sustained some damage. Rick is finishing his written report for the Ranger.

While I wait, I inspect the collision spot, noticing small pieces of metal and plastic from both cars, in the roadway. All the pieces are in the west bound lane, none in the east bound, which supports Rick’s version of events.

I agree to follow him back to Silver Gate to make sure his car is still drivable. He’s lost a headlight but all the other lights work. We get back to Silver Gate around 1PM.

You just never know what’s going to happen in the course of a day.

Today I saw: bison, coyotes, elk, 10 Junction wolves (including the alphas, the pup, 1386, 1385, the tucked-tail black and five others) and the spirits of Allison, Richard and Jeff.

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