I wake up to 3 inches of heavy, wet snow that fell overnight. Strangely, though, the temperature is warmer than yesterday.
There is a bit of slush on the road, but no problem driving.
The snow is really beautiful on the mountains and slopes while the flats seem merely dusted.
The snowy weather has not dampened visitor numbers in the slightest. There are just as many cars at Trash Can and Picnic as there have been all week.
From Trash Can hill I find 4 wolves (2/2) in the R-V and a 5th wolf (black) tugging away on the old bison carcass. A young visitor named Ty finds a bear behind us up in the “inverted triangle”.
The wind from last night has not left us; in fact it has become stronger. We suffer through a number of really rough gusts this morning.
We joke that when the gust is finally finished, it feels like summer again!
Our resident fox puts in another appearance, right by the Middle foothill. He must be finding scraps out there to have stayed around this many wolves so long.
The black pup leaves the old carcass and returns to the R-V, walking near two bedded blacks. They misunderstand his arrival and get up quickly, thinking this pup has brought them food. They look quite dejected when they realize their mistake.
Eventually I get a count of 10. I decide to follow Rick again, to put in an effort to find the Junction adults.
My first stop is Lamar Canyon West. I find no wolves from here but I do see elk down in the flats; a bull and about 10 cows. I take that as a good sign! Perhaps the snow was a signal to the elk to finally come down into the valley?
At Elk Creek I spy more elk in the rolling hills beyond Junction Lake. At Lower Hellroaring I find a sizeable herd, perhaps 50-60 cows, tended by a single gorgeous bull. I am liking these signs!
Of course, seeing this beautiful landscape newly dressed in white is gorgeous, too.
Chloe & Becky have to leave today so I go back to Slough for a goodbye visit. We are joined by Robin & Steve and Larry & Linda, so it’s a nice reunion, however brief.
Once we send Becky & Chloe on their way we all drive to Trash Can to watch pups for a while.
Again there is a single black pup above the riverbank, and still lots of people watching from across the river, despite the snowy ground. Luckily though, nothing bad happens. The pups is gnawing on something and seems to not care about the humans on the other side of the river.
Out on Amethyst bench a pair of coyotes trail some pronghorn.
The Junction pups meander here and there in the R-V, in that listless, moping way. Some just stay bedded the whole time.
I go back to Silver Gate for a break and head out again at 5:30.
Instead of climbing Trash Can hill, though, I join Bill on Hubbard. He has the pups in view from here. He says the pups headed off to the west by themselves around 1PM, taking another excursion over the Divide to Crystal Rock just as they had two days ago.
They made another attempt to join the pack but were, again, unsuccessful.
I have six of them in view from Hubbard (4/2), coming back east. They stall out at the old bison carcass once again! These six are soon joined by two more grays. All eight are all gathered around this sad mess of bones and hide. And they are really going at it. One of the blacks snaps at a gray and then dominates another black. Hmm, is this a pup testing out dominant behavior or is this a yearling?
I see one black is already heading back east. He begins to mouse. I trust Laurie’s experience, but it still makes me sad to see the pups scrounging the bottom of the barrel for food.
I hope they find the adults tomorrow!
Once they get back to the R-V they sniff around a bit and then bed down for another lonely night.
Today I saw: a grizzly bear, bison, coyotes, elk, a fox, 10 Junction Butte pups and the spirits of Allison & Richard.