Another 3-4 inches of new snow has fallen overnight. The temp is 7.
Unfortunately, I had a bad night last night. My BP is high again and I think it might be best if I go home early. But let me see what happens in the next couple of hours.
As I am passing Hitching Post my radio crackles. Something is happening. I pull in at Picnic where I find Taylor in the still-dark. She beams at me and points south. The Handsome Gray is out there, moving from west to east right above the old riverbank. He is quite a good looking wolf!
In a few minutes Rick joins us, and Kathie L, too! Woo hoo! Welcome back!
Rick says he found the gray on the carcass at first light, as expected. The wolf crossed the river, climbed the bank and then started moving east to the position we have him now.
I happily watch him travel through very deep snow. He does a “lean forward” confirming his gender in case anyone was unsure. He continues east, stopping several times to sniff and dig. The third time he does this he comes up with some sort of pelt, which he tosses. His belly looks full.
He leaves the pelt and moves behind a line of cottonwoods so I drive back to Trash Can where I quickly find him again. Then he changes course and begins to head uphill to the trees. He’s aiming for the area where the Silver Pack used to have their den, a wide fan with a left notch at the top. We call it “the comma”.
Laurie & Pauline arrive just in time to see him. His tracks through the pure, white snow are fully visible in the early sun. Someone notices a coyote following the wolf’s track. I presume the coyote is just taking advantage of the trail the larger animal made through the snow. The coyote stops to bed, as if deciding that he ought not get any closer.
We all agree this is a great start to the day. And I feel much better after my unpleasant night. But we are now wolfless again so we decide to continue west.
The sky has grown overcast again but doesn’t exactly threaten more snow.
We drive all the way to Children’s Fire Trail, where we happily discover that Taylor has found the Eight Miles. They are far to the south bedded on a hump.
At first, I see two grays and a black there. Then additional wolves climb up the hump from the left. I see several greetings, which I always enjoy. Several more wolves appear, joining the greeting group. I think these were bedded out of sight on the other side of the hump.
A group of seven now heads off to the east in a line. When these seven go out of sight I swing my scope back and find a gray and a black still bedded in the original spot. After about 10 minutes, these two get up and follow the others.
They are soon out of sight, disappearing just like the ones that left first.
My high count is 9; 3 grays and 6 blacks.
It’s now 10:50AM and the sky has partially cleared, warming us up to 23.
We decide to try scoping from Hellroaring, reasoning that The Junctions have to be somewhere! We don’t find them here, though, so we move on to Elk Creek. Still nothing there but both Laurie & Kathie think they heard howling from the Garnet area.
We hear a familiar voice over the radio and head back west to Lower Hellroaring to say hello to…Calvin & Lynette! They just arrived. We have a great reunion but alas, even with their excellent spotting skills, we don’t find any additional wolves.
At the Tower bathroom, I see two large ravens that hang out here. I call them Heckle & Jeckle from the old cartoons I watched as a kid. They are very savvy and have clearly learned to find food from unwary visitors.
The sky clouds up again and snow starts to fall.
So now I am heading back east.
On my way through Lamar Canyon, I stop to watch a fox on the north side. Beautiful! And now I’ve had three dog day!
As we reach Round Prairie, the sun pops out again, making everything amazingly beautiful.
But we call it a day and head on in.
Today I saw: bison, coyotes, elk, a fox, 10 wolves (9 Eight Miles and 1 lone gray) and the spirits of Allison and Richard