It’s another nice morning with moon, stars and Orion in view.
Maureen, Rick and I start at Exclosure once again, still amazed at the number of cars that we find lining the road in the dark.
Maddie is on the hill this morning too. The first wolf I see is a gray walking around. I notice several lumps which become wolves as the light improves. But two of those lumps remain lumps!
A collared black, 1274M, starts off to the west towards the big fan. He beds there and howls.
This starts a beautiful group howl session. There seem to be two groups; one is small but visible, bedded in front of the eastern foothill and the other group is invisible, echoing beautifully, possibly coming from the forest behind the middle foothill. It’s just a magicaI sound; the way I’d like all mornings to start!
I keep my scope on the trees, expecting a whole slew of wolves to emerge from there. Instead, I notice movement in the flats in front of the foothill. Four wolves climb out of a little depression there; first a black and gray, then two grays, all four of them pups. Rick thinks they are the second howling group. It appears the sound they made was amplified or distorted by their enclosed space. It sure sounded like a lot more than four voices!
I comment to Rick that if those pups did that on purpose, it’s an awfully good trick to use against rival packs, to send them running without having to fight!
The pups come over to join the adult group, with much wagging of tails and submission.
The bedded wolves turn out to be 1048M, an uncollared gray and an uncollared black. One gray pup gets down on his belly and rolls with all four legs in the air, pawing at 1048. Then they all get up and start milling around. The pups move eastward.
Now 1274M comes over and pays homage to 1048.
1274 seems restless. He starts slowly walking towards the forest. One by one the rest of them notice and soon they follow. Uh oh! We’re about to lose our wolves.
1274 continues to walk in and out of the trees, leading the rest of them. They skirt Chalcedony fan, in an undisciplined line, slowly meandering past the apex and around to the east, towards the visible game trail below K Meadow.
There are some bison in the area and the wolves toy with them a while, but nothing develops. They continue a bit further through yellow grass and then begin to climb the hill to the south.
They have been out of view for a while when someone sees a collared gray in the middle flats, moving towards the rendezvous. It’s 1228F. She is on a route closer to the river. She sniffs everywhere and howls. She comes into the rendezvous aiming for the western foothills, where she catches a fresher scent. This turns her around and soon she is following the route her family took just a little while ago.
Some bison have moved to the eastern foothill. They interfere with her and push her off the scent, but she finds it again quickly and trots on. This is another reason I like 1228 so much. She is just aces.
By 10:30 all my wolves are out of view. Someone calls in a moose sighting on Amethyst, so I head down to my car. Unfortunately, I am too late.
It seems like the day is getting smokier. Maureen and Rick invite me to join them on their Specimen Ridge hike, but I feel too tired and say no.
I go back into Silver Gate and rest a while. I don’t know what’s up with me but I feel unusually tired. I manage a nap but still feel weird.
We go back in tonight, fairly skeptical that we will find wolves, given the direction they were going this morning.
I see my usual mule deer on the way in but no wolves. We content ourselves for a while with pronghorn and bison. Then Dan finds a feisty badger which perks us up. He skuttles about, entertaining us all for over an hour.
As the light begins to dim we head back to the cars.
Today I saw: 1 badger, bison, mule deer, 9 Junction wolves (including 1048M, 1228F, 1274M, an uncollared black
and an uncollared gray, plus four pups (1/3) and the spirits of Allison and Richard.