DAY SIX - Friday, June 18

ALL EIGHT PUPS!

Itís colder than usual today.

My morning at Slough starts with a black adult near the Eastern Trees, followed by a gray at the opposite (eastern) end of the Flower Hill.

The gray moves east and is quickly followed by the black. Suddenly we see more wolves ahead of these two. Looks like a hunting party is heading north.

My count is 7 with two grays. The wolves move slowly up the very steep hill and top out at skyline, well above the trees of the Diagonal Forest.

Back at the den I find an uncollared gray babysitter adult moving to a new bedding spot in the early morning sun. I wouldnít mind a bit of that sun myself. Itís warmth has not reached us yet.

Five gray pups emerge from behind the Flower Hill and swarm the babysitter who is wonderfully tolerant. All three black pups wander over, too, finally giving me a full count for this trip. The pups wander all about, exploring, hopping, chasing, making for very pleasant viewing for old timers and newbies.

Someone radios that an uncollared black adult is heading our way from the Lamar Bridge area. We look to the flats in anticipation, but I find a black bear instead of a wolf. Missy finds the wolf, much to the right of the bear.

We follow its progress up the Lion Meadow trail. When the black arrives above the ďgoal postĒ tree we are rewarded with the heart-warming sight of 8 hungry puppies running to greet it. A single gray pup gallops straight across the gully ridge; two blacks and three grays run down from the eastern trees, followed by the final black and gray for my second full count of the day.

The hungry pups surround the arriving wolf in a frenzy of muzzle licking and tail wagging. The adult feeds them once, and continues quickly across the den hill to the Eastern Trees. All eight puppies follow the gray in a lively parade. They all disappear behind the Flower Hill where we are fairly certain a second feeding occurred.

After a bit of a lull we hear coyotes howling to the northeast. It takes a while, but we find them in the river flats below the horizontal forest. I see three of them, running fast, chasing something. Most likely they are after a pronghorn fawn, since there are several adults on alert in the area. But we donít see them catch anything.

A bit later, I see one of the pronghorn chasing one of the coyotes in a VERY serious way, but the coyote escapes.

Itís my last day for a while, so I talk with Jeremy down by the cars, resting my hiking pole against my back bumper. I bid farewell to my friends and then head east.

On my way through Lamar I see Rick up on Exclosure. He has a single black wolf in Chalcedony fan. I see it briefly from the road but decide not to hike up the hill.

I see Bill at Footbridge so to say goodbye for a while. He has a courting pair of grizzlies to show me.

I continue to Silver Gate, do my packing and cleaning.

On my way back I have a big black bear jam above Phantom Lake; itís the sow with two coys. People are parked every which way and one overworked Ranger is trying his best.

I get a quick glimpse of them, thanks to a van that stops in the road right front of me (on a curve on a hill). I just put on my flashers and pray.

I stop in Mammoth to say farewell to Allison and get back to Bozeman with ease. Only after Iím back do I realize I left my pole in the Slough lot. Oh well, I hope whoever finds it gets some use out of it!

Today I saw: 4 black bears (including 2 cubs), 2 grizzly bears, bison, coyotes, sandhill cranes, elk, pronghorn, 17 Junction wolves including 9 adults (AF, AM, 1048, 907, 1276 and others), plus all 8 pups (3/5), and the spirits of Allison and Richard.

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