There are no stars when I leave this morning; looks like it might be a cloudy day.
It’s really hard to find a space at Exclosure this morning. Boy, I’m still not used to so many people being here so early!
But the good news is that wolves are in view.
It looks like most of the same cast of characters as yesterday, with a few additions. We have 1274M, the husky black and both limpers (gray male and black female). It’s clear there is a carcass to the south (maybe Cache Creek?) because we see three wolves arrive from that direction, bringing food.
I am happiest to see the 8 adorable pups, putting on their playful show.
The clouds create a beautiful sunrise. I notice a group of people in the river corridor, taking photos of it. But then Rick calls my attention to a separate person who is fording the river (it’s very low at the moment). Rick is instantly concerned and walks down the hill. While we watch, the person stops on the far bank, puts his socks and hiking boots back on, pulls a camera out of his dry bag and starts to climb up the rocky bank.
He is youngish, with bright blond hair and a dark scruffy beard. He turns around, because Rick is calling to him from the road, trying to discourage him from heading that way. He stops, continues, then stops again. Now he turns and starts to hike upstream, still on the south side of the Lamar.
To all of us, it looks like he still intends to get closer to the wolves, despite the eyes of 150 people on the hill.
Jeremy has already called a Ranger. We see the blond guy again, as predicted, out in the middle flats, walking slowly closer to the bedded pack.
He stops at a distance and crouches behind a tree. To be fair to him, I do not see the wolves react to his presence. But we’ve seen three wolves come in with food from the southeast and the route they’ve taken passes fairly close to that tree.
I try to ignore the man and watch the wolves. The closest Junction is 1048M, who is bedded in the western end of the eroded area. A few pups drop by to visit him but soon turn back west.
There are several whitened bones in the short grass besides the bison skull. These are objects of interest to all the pups.
A black wolf gets up abruptly and heads for the trees. Hmm. Shortly after this, all the wolves get up and move slowly toward the trees. I check on the blond guy and find him retracing his steps, perhaps going back to the road. Whether his movement spooked the wolves or whether he left when the black away, I did not witness.
In any case, in a few more minutes our wolves are out of view. We grumble a bit and debate whether “Bad Example Blond” caused them to leave or not. Rick comes back and says the Rangers will cite him for leaving his backpack unattended on the other side of the river. They are waiting for him to reach the road.
Then someone spots the wolves again, so we forget the blond guy and return to our scopes. They are passing behind the eastern foothill, traveling southeast, in and out of the treeline, skirting Chalcedony fan. They howl off and on. I figure they are going to visit the carcass. We get another hour of wolf watching since they are meandering, not “on a mission”.
Around 12:30 they are out of sight again, so I head back to Silver Gate, enjoying the fall color on the way.
Around 6PM we’re ready for more.
Looking out from Exclosure Hill, we find no wolves at all. But there is a bear on Amethyst, so we content ourselves watching him for a while.
We are just about to call it a night when a couple behind us call out “wolves”.
Aha, they almost gave us the slip. Junction wolves are pouring out of the trees much further west than where we last saw them, at the top of the “comma” fan. Wow, there are so many of them! They look like an invading army! I count 17, 8 black 9 grays.
They begin to move steadily west.
I count all eight pups, easily distinguishable due to their lively, romping nature. The leaders reach the big fan and cross it, then dip in and out of the various gullies on the western side of that area. As the light dims, it gets harder and harder for me to see the grays.
As they reach the eastern side of Amethyst bench, I can barely see the blacks anymore, so I call it a night. Uh oh, looks like they might be back at the Jasper rendezvous tomorrow.
Back east I go, meeting only two mule deer on the way.
Today I saw: 1 grizzly bear, bison, mule deer, 17 Junction wolves (including the alphas, 907F, 1048M, 1228F, 1274M,
1276F, other uncollared adults plus all 8 pups) and the spirits of Allison and Richard.