DAY SEVEN - Saturday, October 16

CURVE AND ELK CREEK

Stars greet me again this morning.

My guess is that the Junctions will be at Slough today but thatís not quite what pans out.

Frank is at Picnic. He had one black for a brief moment in the rendezvous but itís now out of sight. I figure this was the straggler but I am eager to see the main pack again, so I continue to Slough. I find a bear on the carcass but no wolves.

I drive down the campground road to check Slough flats. Nothing here, though.

I drive back and join Laurie and Dan who have been watching the bear. They say a visitor just told them about wolves further west.

So off we go.

We end up joining a crowd at Curve. The Junctions are to the south, milling around at the treeline on the western shoulder of Specimen. And guess what? Brother bear is with them!

I guess the bear I saw at Slough is a different bear.

The pack doesnít stay in sight very long but starts to head further south. They are soon lost in the trees.

Laurie suggests we go to Elk Creek to look from there. Before I leave, I talk with a young photographer who stayed by the roadside, not trying to ďget closerĒ. I tell him it might be a good idea to stick around, because the wolves might very well return.

We are happily shocked to find parking at Elk Creek. Only Susan & Reve are here. Laurie finds the Junctions quite quickly. They are exploring a slope above the river. Some are bedded. I count at least 15 plus the bear. Several pups begin to romp and play chase on a steep, snowy slope, dashing here and there with joyful abandon. From this distance they look like they are just skimming over the snow. Itís great fun to watch.

This sighting gives me yet another lesson in how the landscapes fit together.

After about 20 minutes, the pack begins to move back north, basically retracing their steps. We realize they will likely be in view again from Curve, so back we go.

When we arrive, itís clear from all the cars and people, that the wolves have already come back into view. I see the young photog, who grins and says ďyou were right!Ē He says he got some good shots as they emerged from the trees. He says they milled around a bit then headed east and upslope into the thick forest.

I thank him and go to Boulder, while L & D go to Straightaway.

There are about 10 people on Boulder hill but we donít find any wolves. Around 10AM, though, we hear them howl. The sound is clearly coming from the thick forest. They seem about halfway up the slope.

We wait a while longer but when they donít emerge, I drive to Straightaway to join Laurie & Dan. Someone has just spotted a few of them in a narrow clearing.

I see a single bedded black and a single walking gray. The black moves out of sight and the gray beds in front of a tree for a while. Then a larger shape moves into view Ė itís the bear!

The main group seems to be resting in the thick trees. These two wolves (and the bear) are a bit more restless. But then I lose sight of the gray too.

At 12:30 we head back to Silver Gate. The weather is really nice, with a clear, bright blue sky and temps around 45.

After a break, we go out around 4:30 to see if the Junctions have moved.

There are mule deer in Ice Box Canyon.

We find nothing from Boulder or Straightaway so we go back to Slough to check the carcass. We find lots of people here but they have not seen wolves. They did see a grizzly a while back.

We look for a while but wherever they are, they are not visible.

We head back east under the light of a bright three-quarter moon.

Today I saw: 2 grizzlies, bison, mule deer, elk, pronghorn, 23 Junction wolves and the spirits of Allison and Richard.

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