DAY TWO - Wednesday, September 15


I am out at 6AM this morning. It’s 30 degrees.

As I am loading my supplies for the day, I notice at least six cars driving east. It seems unusual to me, but I just assume it’s fishermen.

When I get to Lamar, I find Doug stopped at Picnic but he has nothing yet, so I continue west. When I reach the ranch and look ahead, I am shocked to see cars, cars, cars.

I have never seen so many people out this early in the morning. It’s still dark! I wonder if something happened last night and there is a carcass near the road?

There are cars filling both Dorothy’s and Coyote and every scrap of shoulder in between. That’s on the south side. There are at least ten cars parked on the north side. You’d think there were three bison carcasses with wolves and bears and mountain lions 20 feet from the road! It’s just shocking. I don’t mean it’s bad – it’s good for wolves to have advocates and the best way for people to become advocates is to see them in the wild, doing their thing. But sheesh!

Now I know what Laurie meant.

Some guides and their clients have climbed the hill but most people are standing at road level. Most don’t have scopes and only half have binoculars. Holy moly. This is all for the still out of sight Junction wolves.

Anyway, I find a spot on the dirt and pack up for the climb. I check to see if Laurie & Dan are going but before I reach them, I hear Taylor say the magic words “I have a black”.


Her wolf is on Jasper Bench, moving east.

Yay again!

I set up and miraculously find the wolf. Then I see another and another. These wolves are playing! OMG, I’m seeing pups! Woo hoo!

They are so big now (two months older than when I last saw them). The grays are just beautiful. They really “like wolves” now as their legs and bodies and tails are all longer. I recognize 907F with them, which makes me happy, too.

In addition, I see 1048M, the alpha male and an uncollared gray. All together: 5 adults and 8 pups. (6 grays/7 blacks)

They howl and come together in a big dog pile. After their boisterous rally they move further east, towards the circular aspen forest (which is really the tops of aspen trees growing out of a ravine in a sort of circular shape).

The pups climb boulders, jump around and chase each other. One black carries a piece of hide, daring another pup to try to take it. The pup takes the bait and a game of “keep away” ensues.

907F lies down on something and rolls on her back, legs in the air.

In addition to wolves in view we also have two grizzlies on Amethyst, in pretty much the same spot where I saw one last night.

But all too soon, the Junctions disappear into the aspen forest. We keep hoping they will continue east but they don’t.

Laurie suggests we go west. She has heard the newly named Rescue Creek Pack might be visible from Hellroaring.

When we get half-way there, we hear a radio report that the Junctions are heading east after all.

At Hellroaring we find decent visibility, but no wolves in view, nor any elk. Only bison.

We head back to Lamar around 8:30 and find the Junctions have made their way to the Druid rendezvous (they heard my prayers!). We stop at Exclosure and climb the hill.

Now we have wolves bedded in front of the middle foothill. The view is hazy but tolerably so, and there is a nice breeze, too.

My high count for the day is 14, with the alphas, 907F, 1048M two uncollared blacks and all 8 pups.

The pups are active for a while, running in and out of the trees, walking on logs, digging here and there.

There are also two bears; a largish one behind the middle foothill and a smaller one, closer to the bedded wolves. He draws the ire of 907 and a black yearling. They chase after it and it runs for its life!

The pups continue to play, but eventually the adults start to move beyond the foothills into the trees. The pups reluctantly follow.

Once they are all gone, someone spots an uncollared gray (husky gray male) arriving in the area from the east. His face and neck are bloody; looks like he’s been on a fresh carcass. The route he takes skirts the rendezvous and brings him close to the river. He does not seem to know his family is so close, resting in the forest.

He makes his dutiful way west, going to where he left his family – on Jasper Bench while they remain oblivious to the free meal that slowly passes them by.

There are a few pronghorn to distract us and a coyote chorus erupts on the hill behind us. Their howls have an odd echo, like they are in a tunnel or something. I’m not sure how they accomplished that.

I also notice a single cow elk in the eastern part of the rendezvous. I hope she doesn’t stay alone for very long.

Around 11:30 I pack up and head back to Silver Gate. There are many fishermen in Soda Butte Creek, which surprises me since the water level is so low.

I also notice, thankfully, that the bison rut seems to be over. The bulls are placid again, just like the cows.

The willows across from Laurie’s house are gorgeous. In fact, the fall color all the way from Silver Gate to Pebble is really getting nice.

Of course, we hope that the Junctions will hang out in the old Druid rendezvous again for a while. It makes for such easy viewing for us!

Around six we head back in.

We find even more cars at Exclosure than when we left!

The wolves are in front of the trees, now. The larger bear is currently surrounded. But the wolves lose interest, and the bear goes back to leisurely feeding.

A gray comes in from the east, carrying a skull. He is met by the excited pups on a run. 1048 has his snooze interrupted by various wolves who come to greet him. Laurie identifies 1276F here tonight. I’m not sure she was with them this morning.

It’s a very nice evening but I admit I was somewhat distracted for a while due to the stupid antics of two visitors who are flying a drone over the rendezvous.

The crowd on the hill notices and are not happy (drone flying is 100% illegal in the Park). Peer pressure is exerted. The drone crash lands and they hurriedly return to their car, driving off to cheers from the crowd.

We watch a while longer as the pups continue to play with the skull. Then the wind picks up so I call it a slightly early night.

On the way back I see the Baronette fox plus my usual 2 mule deer in the owl meadow. There are more deer at the entrance gate including 2 sweet fawns.

Today I saw: 3 grizzly bears, bison, mule deer, elk, a fox, 16 Junction wolves (including the alphas, 907F, 1048M, 1276F, another collared gray, husky gray yearling, uncollared gray, all 8 pups and the spirits of Allison and Richard.

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