DAY EIGHT - Thursday, July 7


I wake at first light. Colter Bay is quiet and lovely as I sneak out quietly to see more animals.

My first stop is Oxbow Bend, and I am the only one here. I see two geese families, a pair with 8 goslings and a pair with three. Alas, I am still mooseless!

I drive on to see if the bears are out, but before I get there I see another pair of sandhills, and a herd of wary elk, perhaps some of the same as I saw last evening. They are across from the Lodge, in a meadow. I keep going and see the line of cars along the road to the dam.

I find a spot to park and hope out with my scope. I take my cue's from the other scoper and photographers. Everyone is quiet and looking to the south side of the road. I grin, because the south side offers short people like me much better viewing. Periodically I hear the humming of camera shutters and soon have the bears in sight.

The people here all seem to know what they are after and very respectful of the animals. I see the mom emerge from behind a clump of willows. She grazes and digs, looking quite serious. Her cubs follow her lead, digging and grazing close to her. I don't see them play much this morning.

There are very nice folk about. Tom Mangleson is here with his girlfriend. He is braced on the roof of his SVU with his camera on a tripod. If he needs to move to follow the bear, she drives him, very slowly.

Momma bear digs up chunks of earth and rocks. She is a beautiful bear. Her babies are much darker than she is. She stays hidden a lot and although I can easily follow her, anticipating her moves, I feel I've seen enough and decide to leave her be.

I drive slowly back to Oxbow Bend, hoping for another chance at moose. Nope. And it's gotten terribly buggy again.

I decide it's time to see the Visitor Center. As I get out of my car a mule deer doe with a fawn crosses the road and disappears into the willows near the riverbank.

The VC is worth the wait. It's quite new, like the one at Canyon and it has interesting, interactive exhibits. There are also nice bathrooms and a spacious gift shop.

Next I drive the famous Moose-Wilson road. Now I know why people love it so much! It's a quiet road with great trees; perfect moose and beaver habitat. It starts out paved, then becomes dirt/gravel. It's far more narrow than Trail Creek and there are no improvements along the way.

I pass the Rockefeller Institute and decide to pay it a visit on the way back. I drive all the way to Teton Village (which is mostly a ski resort) then back again.

The road crosses several creeks which are in flood, making them extremely picturesque. I love listening to them roar! I visit the Rockefeller Preserve, see its museum and wander along the paths.

I am still mooseless when I return to Teton proper. It looks like another clear, warm day is on tap. I drive slowly north then decide to stop to scope the mountains. I find, to my amazement, a huge ice-fall across Jenny Lake. Water is flowing, too, but most of the moisture is locked in ice and snow.

And a golden eagle soars overhead.

I drive back to Colter Bay, take nice, long look at the shoreline and then head back towards Yellowstone.

I stop at Moose Falls and recall the time I visited this spot with Doug Dance when he was completing his photo list for his first book. This time, a group of young people are jumping into the icy cold waters just below the falls. Their screams of delight tell me just how cold that water is!

I keep going and reach Yellowstone more quickly than expected. There is an elk jam at the junction of West Thumb & Lake and I watch a while, chatting with visitors there and sharing information.

I stop at a breezy spot along the Lake shore and call Laurie to see how she's doing. People are swimming and I see a few boaters, too.

Soon I am driving through more familiar parts of Yellowstone. I stop at Grizzly Overlook and see Dorothy. She catches me up on the dreadful news from yesterday. Then suddenly we are distracted by the appearance of the alpha male of the Canyon Pack. He crosses the meadow from left to right, heading for the rendezvous area.

We get a nice long look at him, but alas, no pups come out to greet him. It's about 4:30 as I head over Dunraven.

I see a black bear at Rainy Lake and I just miss one near the Yellowstone Picnic area. There are pronghorn with fawns in Little America and I see an osprey in the nest west of Fisherman's.

I stop at Dorothy's to scope but notice a number of cars slowing down and stopping in the road to the east. They are looking to the north. I look where they look and see movement! Aha! A gray wolf! Hah! One of the Lamar wolves is probably travelling home.

I watch the wolf go back up the hill, then stare down at the road. It looks to me like he wants to cross, but the line of six slow cars is preventing him. He starts trotting east again, and the cars continue following his progress.

Some drivers get impatient and pass the lead car. I understand the lead car wanting to see the wolf but he really should pull over to let the other cars go by.

Finally the cars clear out and I wonder if he is now on the south side. I pack up and drive east myself. I join another car in the YES pullout and chat with the occupants, a British couple. They say no, he didn't cross. They lost him when he headed behind the Institute buildings.

I drive east to Hitching Post. I set up on a hill and scope for another hour. I see a lot of beauty but never see the wolf again.

As the light begins to fail I head in for the night.

Today I saw: 1 black bear, 3 grizzlies (including 2 coy) bison, cranes, ducks, a golden eagle, elk, geese, pronghorn, osprey, two wolves from two packs; the alpha male 712 of the Canyon Pack, and the Dark Gray Male of the Lamar Pack, and the spirit of Allison.

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