I walk out this morning into 39 degrees, which I prefer to yesterdayís heat!
There is a bright full moon as I set off around 5:45.
Laurie advised me to start on Daveís Hill in the mornings because the view is considerably better than from Bobís Knob. I arrive at Slough in the dark, amazed by the number of cars already here. But as I trudge up the hill, I am astonished that so many visitors have made the climb. Susan and Reve and Frank are here but most of the others are people I donít know, which I find unusual.
Before I get to the top, the Junctions begin to howl. Itís sound so great in the pre-dawn light, and itís especially nice to hear all the puppy voices!
I get set up just in time to see a group of adults leaving on a hunt. Off they go in a line to the northwest, heading to the mixed conifer/aspen forest but then turning south.
There is a stiff breeze today, making me glad I brought my down coat! I turn my attention to the pup group below Marge. The third mother (2 yr old black female) is babysitting a large group of pups who are moving about here and there, playing in the creek bed under her watchful eye.
Someone finds a grizzly above the den cliff. I see it for a split second before it goes behind a hill.
I turn back to the pups just in time to see a bunch of them suddenly start running north. The gray male is spotted above them. Aha! As they reach him, he lowers his head, giving a feeding. Oh, the pups love him!
Now he plays with them, romping and ambushing them. Itís so sweet. He is amazingly tolerant as they jump and slam him.
I notice that the fallen log looks totally different this morning. Itís bleached white, while last night it looked black. The gray male heads left into the yellow grass meadow with a line of pups trailing him. There is a bit more romping, then they bed.
Someone spots a collared black on the slope of Specimen behind us. Itís 1048M. I pick him up near Crystal Rock, traveling steadily uphill towards the divide; looks like heís going to Lamar.
Back to the pups in the yellow grass. I see more romping, and the gray male pins a gray pup, which rolls on its back, legs in air. I think that pup LIKES being pinned!
Now the group moves a bit to the left, approaching the Southern Round Tree, looking for suitable spots to bed. Others go uphill behind Marge and eventually disappear.
I recognize two people up here that I didnít notice before. Calvin & Lynette! I walk over for a socially distanced hello with them. They are keeping a low profile in order to stay safe. I get that!
I can see Jeremy below us on Bobís Knob. He and some rangers are intercepting various people who walk out into the rolling hills. They chat with the visitors, explaining why itís better to stay back.
Over the radio I hear a report from Lamar. Apparently, 1048 and 907 are being seen from Dorothyís.
Things have settled down here, so I pack up and head back east. But I arrive too late to see the adult Junctions. They have disappeared at the back of Jasper Bench.
So I take a drive to the west, trying to find an angle from which to see the backside of the Marge Simpson tree, hoping it will allow a wider view of the area into which the pups disappear.
I try all sorts of spots but nothing works.
Around 11:40 I go back east for a nap.
Missy and Andy left after the morning viewing, and drove to Bozeman. When I get to Silver Gate, I find a text from them with a photo of a fire on the M Mountain in Bozeman that has just erupted. Eeek!
I go out again this evening and scope from Bobís Knob by myself.
Itís a fairly slow night but I do see a total of 6 pups, 4 black and & 2 gray. I also meet a very nice young family from Bermuda who are here for their first visit.
Itís very warm again tonight and there is no breeze. Around 7:30 I start getting bugged by skeeters. But then the sun dips behind the hill and a sunset breeze arrives, chasing them away.
Itís nice to have the Knob almost to myself. I watch a lively pronghorn family with a strong looking fawn. And the bison are putting on a show, rolling in the dust wallows and grunting loudly. A few wade through the creek, looking quite majestic.
And the pups wander here and there, sometimes playing tug with each other, sometimes finding crickets or other bugs to chase and pounce on. At 8PM I pack up and head back. There are many bison on the roads again but in one spot, itís not the bison causing the jam, itís just people stopped to take videos of them!
Today I saw: 1 grizzly bear, bison, elk, pronghorn, 22 Junction wolves including the aphas, uncollared black male, 1048M, 907F, third mother,
gray male, several more yearlings and at least 11 pups (7/4) and the spirits of Allison and Richard.