DAY THREE - Wednesday, June 10


I’m off to the Park again around noon.

It’s a pleasant 64 degrees. The Bridgers have new snow again. The last three days have been rainy but clearly it turned to snow up high.

They look really pretty.

I have an easy, uneventful drive through the gorgeous spring landscape. There are elk to greet me outside the North Gate and a few pronghorn, too.

Everything looks good and green to me and the Gardiner river is still quite frothy. I have my visit with Allison and love seeing how green Kite Hill is right now.

I notice how different Mammoth looks from my earlier visit. By that I mean I see a “normal” number of people and many elk being photographed. Laurie says visitation has greatly increased in the few short days since I was here. Being outside is one of the safer activities during a pandemic and it seems that Americans have been flocking to the National Parks.

I stop a while at Blacktail ponds, noticing some leftover bones from the various March carcasses. I see geese and goslings, yellow-headed black birds and numerous ducks.

A golden eagle soars overhead at S curves. It looks like a perfect June day in Yellowstone.

As I make the turn at Tower, I hear Bill H over the radio, announcing a bear in view on Junction Butte. I see him at Boulder East so I pull in to say hello. He helps me find the bear and I watch through Layla for a while. It’s a single, small grizzly, likely a 3 year old on his own this year. Bill looks happy. He’s had 10 bears today so far!

I watch a while but when the pullout starts to fill up I pack up and go.

My next stop is at Slough. I look in all the usual spots but I see nothing moving. Some visitors pull in and we talk a bit. They want to see wolves so I tell them this is usually a good place but they are likely sleeping right now.

On my way out of Slough I see Becky & Chloe’s van pass by. We both stop at Lamar Canyon West and have a pleasant, distanced visit. They are both wearing masks.

I hear a meadowlark trill as we are catching up. We remark about the frothy water in the canyon and how lovely the arrowleaf balsamroot is.

We agree to meet up at Slough later this evening and I continue to Silver Gate.

I have a nice visit with Laurie & Dan and get caught up with them. They are still talking about selling the house. The new deck looks really good.

Around 6:15 I head back out. I see Becky & Chloe in line for ice cream at Stop The Car. They report a fox sighting at Pebble and a black bear, too.

They also advise that I look for adult Junctions at Trash Can. They saw a few in the flats south of there earlier today after I left.

I spy some sweet looking mule deer at the forest’s edge east of Baronette. And I find Chloe’s black bear but I miss the fox.

I do stop at Trash Can but find only sandhills, pronghorn & bison, so I continue towards Slough.

When I arrive at the east-side lot I find it empty, even though the other pullouts are well attended. As soon as I put up my scope I see a pup, then 2 then 3! Yay! They are playing in the “elk-shed” meadow below the eastern trees.

An adult walks up the trail below the trees, then two yearlings appear from the west, heading towards the adult. Then I notice lots of puppies all around the yearlings! I don’t know how many, maybe 8?

Then the puppies begin to romp down the hill aiming for the spring meadow. One takes a drink while another explores the high grass left of the single tree.

Three more adults appear, two blacks & a gray. One of the blacks is submissive to the other black, as is the gray. So perhaps the other black is the alpha female?

More puppies appear in the spring meadow, romping and exploring. They are about 8 weeks old, now, a perfect age for this. I do notice a bit of size difference in some of them. I think I am up to 9 puppies, including 3 grays and one of those is very small.

Becky and Chloe arrive and soon we are all giggling and cooing over the pup behavior.

3 black pups play together for a while. There are lots of people watching tonight, definitely more than a week ago, but we are the only three in this lot, which is very comforting.

The only unpleasant thing is that from this angle, the sun is right in our eyes. I have to drape my bandana over my head in order to see properly.

There are lots of clouds in the sky tonight but none of them in a position to block the sun. And of course, when the sun finally dips behind the hill, the animals have all moved out of sight!

Still, it’s a nice night.

I see two moose on my way home, one in Round Prairie and a second at Soda Butte Picnic. Both bulls

Today I saw: 1 black bear, 1 grizzly bear, bison, cranes, mule deer, a golden eagle, elk, 2 moose, pronghorn and 15 Junction wolves including at least 9 puppies (6/3), and the spirits of Allison & Richard.

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