DAY THREE - Tuesday, February 11

MID-POINT CARCASS

I leave Gardiner just after 7AM. Itís colder today; minus 9!

First light in Mammoth is gorgeous. There is a beautiful full moon.

On the eastern side of the High Bridge I meet a group of bison blocking the road. I take it slow and get past them pretty easily.

Sunrise on the Blacktail features a lot of orange and is particularly pretty.

Above the S Curves I see a small group of elk on the hill, looking like they might want to cross the road to the north. I wait a bit to give them space but they donít move, so I go on.

I see the mess of dirty snow where a bus went off the road yesterday. Apparently it was in so deep, the park had to close the road for a while as they worked to get it out.

Jeremy and Rick are in their cars at Childrenís Fire Trail lot as I pull in, but they keep going and head back east, so I follow them.

The sky becomes overcast and threatens more snow. We find nothing at Hellroaring, upper or lower. Doug M joins our caravan east.

Next stop is at big ski lot near Petrified Tree. Rick and I scope from here for a while. Nothing. Itís become a very frustrating morning. Jeremy has only weak signals for Junctions and we find nothing in sight.

I decide to continue east. As I cross the Yellowstone Bridge I see a lot of steam coming off the River and the sulfur smell is strong.

I continue through Little America and into Lamar. Downhill from Dorothyís a half dozen photographers line the road, snapping photos of a single coyote wading through very deep snow to the north.

Rick went ahead of me and I join him again at Footbridge. He is following up on a visitor report of a single gray seen earlier at the base of DPH. We both think it might have been the lone gray, but it may just have been a coyote. The people said the animal disappeared quickly into the seedling forest on the western slope. I volunteer to try from Confluence East while Rick stays at Footbridge. Neither of us sees anything moving though I do see tracks leading into the seedling area.

More snow arrives diminishing visibility. Grr.

After a while I give up and drive west, intending to stop at Curve. Thatís a good spot for cell service and I want to check in with Laurie and Pauline. They flew in yesterday and stayed at my place in Bozeman. I reach them and fine all is well; they are out shopping and will arrive tonight as planned. Laurie says her driveway should be cleared by now.

So, that mission is now accomplished. Next mission is to see a wolf! I head back east, into more snow! When I top Hubbard Hill, I see several cars at Midpoint, including Rickís. A few people are out of their cars looking south.

I pull in, hoping this means what I think it means. As it turns out, while I was driving west, Rick got a report from a guide who saw a single gray wolf south of here earlier this morning. Rick found the wolfís tracks but not the wolf. He also found what he thinks is new carcass close to the riverbed.

Itís not visible from the lot itself; youíd have to walk up Hubbard. He adds that it could have been here this morning when he came through but there was zero visibility at the time.

I watch a coyote come into the carcass area from the west while another arrives from the east. These two feed for a while, and I note the various landmarks to help me find it again tomorrow. The snow falls more thickly obscuring both coyotes.

So I pack up and continue east. Laurieís driveway is indeed cleared, so I pull in and start to unload. Its lovely to be here again. Pretty soon the snow stops and the sun comes out. Beautiful!

I take a shower and a nap and call Laurie again, telling her about the new carcass.

She and Pauline pull in around 7 and we have a merry time unloading the car. Then we catch up over dinner and have a relaxing evening.

Today I saw: bison, coyotes, elk, and the spirits of Allison & Richard.

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