My last day dawns clear. I had a good sleep and some lovely dreams.
Once more I start my day at the eastern curve, and around 6AM I'm treated to a group howl. We smile at the unmistakeable sound of earnest puppy voices. Well if I can't see them, at least I am grateful to hear them!
But Rick tells us that Mama is not at home - instead she is out east, perhaps in the Cache Creek area. So I follow Laurie & Dan up to Geriatric as it affords a good view of the Lamar River trail. We do not find any wolves, but we do see a pronghorn mom with a single fawn.
We also see bison, sandhills, a bald eagle, and several elk - some up on Norris and some, surprisingly, in the rendezvous.
It seems like everyone is leaving today. I say goodbye to Tracy & Kevin, who give me their un-used bear spray. And I say I say goodbye to Chris & Tom and we make plans to meet again when we are both back east.
After a bit longer it's time for me to go, too. I hug Laurie & Dan and say goodbye to Kathie L and Jeff, and begin my slow exit from Park.
I stop at Dorothy's and find the eagle nest. I show the fledgling to several folk in the lot. Cathy M arrives and give me an update on her poor ankle. It's sore but not bad. I wish I could show her a wolf to compensate but alas, it's not to be.
I stop for a while in Lamar Canyon and just listen to the river flow.
As I drive through Little America I see lots of cars pulled over at Long Pullout, including a Ranger. I ask if they are seeing a bear and she says "wolf".
I hop out with my scope and try to find it. A visitor tells me he saw an uncollared gray wolf cross from north to south right about here. He watched it a while but it disappeared going uphill. But before that, he says, he saw a black wolf near Boulder Pond, heading south.
The Ranger calls in to Rick and I head to Boulder, figuring it will be easier for me to find a black wolf than a gray. Several other visitors join me up here. A short time later a young woman spots the black.
Rick arrives just in time to see it. He ID's it as a Mollie female, one of 777's new group. Kathie gets here in time so she and I both have a two-pack day!
The black Mollie wolf travels south and a little west through the bison ford area, right along the trail and up hill. I finally lose her in the trees.
It's a nice final sighting and gives me a chance to say goodbye to Rick.
I head west again. My next stop is at the big ski lot west of Roosevelt. The black bear sow with the two brown cubs is here today, grazing the steep hillsides above Elk Creek.
It's a gorgeous setting. High, green grass, and bright pink fireweed grows thick on the hillside dotted with fallen logs, some scorched black from the '88 fires and some weathered white. And romping through it are two adorable brown cubs.
They wrestle and chase each other, then tumble head over heels together down the green hill. Mom barely looks up. She grazes and grubs, head down, all business.
Eventually I continue on, but stop pretty soon to watch a single black bear in another part of the burn area at Elk Creek curve. He is moving west, but he's not very big, so I don't worry too much for the nearby sow.
My next stop is Floating Island Lake, where a kind visitor shows me a red tail nest with fledgling still there! I also enjoy seeing several ducks, mostly coots, two marmots, and many gorgeous dragonflies
The sandhill nest is not in view this year. I don't know what happened. Perhaps I'm late and the colts have already fledged?
I move on and see many elk grazing in Mammoth so I stop to watch them a while. And I have a nice visit with Allison, too.
Another wonderful visit is now set in memory.
TODAY I SAW: 5 black bears (including 2 cubs), bison, 3 bald eagles (including one fledgling), 2 hawk (including one fledgling), pronghorn, elk, 1 wolf (a black Mollie female from 777's Group) and the spirit of Allison.