The chill last night has given way to a much colder morning Ė itís only 27 degrees. I donít mind, of course. I have the clothes for it.
And there are stars this morning. I grin as I recognize Orion.
As usual, I climb Exclosure hill and right away find wolf shapes playing in the yellow grass. A few stars are still visible to the west when the howling starts. Oh man, such howling! It is gorgeous to hear.
And it seems to go on forever. More puppies come into view and soon I can see wolves everywhere; some bedded, some standing, some running. They howl again! This song goes on for almost 3 minutes straight! (I record it!)
As the light grows I start to count. 6, 10, 16, 17, 18! And yet another howl begins. So gorgeous.
I can tell that some of the voices are coming from the forest behind the foothills. The alpha male and 1047 are both walking past the tree trunks, heading a bit west. I see other adults bedded in other spots in the eaves of the forest.
Two pups start romping and playing out in the yellow grass. They toss a piece of hide and play tug of war.
I grin to myself. This is why I came here. To see this. This is exactly what I hoped to see and Iím seeing it.
Itís an absolutely beautiful day. Bright blue sky. Some wispy clouds now forming. 48 degrees.
Besides the wolves, I notice a pair of cranes in the eroded area. Up on Specimen a bull elk is silhouetted on skyline.
I turn back to the yellow grass area and see Junction puppies playing, surrounded by their attentive family, not a care in the world.
I say goodbye and thanks to Laurie & Dan, Maureen and Rick, Susan and Reve and all my other wolf buds.
I head west, reflecting on my good luck. The Junction Peak Pack is now the second largest pack in the history of Yellowstone, perhaps in the history of modern North America. The largest pack, of course, was the 37-member Druid Peak pack (in 2002). And Iíve seen both packs in the very same spot!
Today I saw: bison, sandhill cranes, elk, 34 Junction wolves and the spirits of Allison and Richard.