The moon today looks fuzzy, which means it’s cloudy.
I notice a bit of diamond dust twinkling on my way in, like I’ve seen on past winter trips. I theorize that the prevalence of these sparklees is related to the freshness/coldness of the snow.
A pretty pink dawn begins behind me. The crew is not at Hellroaring, though, so I continue west. Eventually I stop at the Children’s Fire Trail with Mark & Carol. We hear tales from other visitors of wolves further west on a carcass.
Hmm. During this year’s mating season a new group of wolves was formed, consisting mostly of former Junction Butte wolves, led by the beautiful gray male (now 3 years old). He met up with two 8 Mile females, 1154F and an uncollared sibling and I guess those females really liked the look of him. (Who wouldn’t? He is one of the handsomest wolves I’ve ever seen). In this new group is former alpha 1047, plus 8 other former Junction wolves, mostly males, including notorious 1273M.
It is this group that visitors are talking of.
I decide to check it out. I continue west until I find the Nat Geo truck with the swivel camera (yes, they are still here). The driver is checking email, though, not looking for wolves.
I scope a bit but find only elk. There are a lot of them, so it certainly makes sense for a new group to settle here and set up a territory. While I’m here I see my first pronghorn of the season.
Around 9AM I decide to head back east. Kinda looks like this might be a wolfless day for me.
I stop at Lower Hellroaring because it’s sunny and nice. I scope the spot where we had Junctions yesterday and find a pair of skiers out there. Then I notice a while pickup truck in the lot with government plates. I put two and two together and realize the skiers are the cluster crew, heading out to check yesterday’s carcass in the river corridor.
I continue east, enjoying the sunshine and the sparkling snow.
As I head down the hill from Elk Creek I see cars pulled over and people looking south, where the actual creek runs down from above. The people have spotted moose bedded in the thick trees – 4 of them!
There is no place for me to park but no-one behind me, so I stop and catch a quick glimpse of them before I continue on (truth be told, I only saw 3 of the 4).
I keep driving east and as I come down Hubbard Hill I see cars filling the lots at Picnic and Trash Can, plus a dozen people up on Trash Can hill.
I ask a man what people are seeing and he says “a gray wolf”. He is looking towards the old Druid Rendezvous.
I find a parking spot and trudge up the hill. Happily I find the wolf, a pretty collared gray which I find out later is 1239F of the Mollies pack.
I radio Mark & Carol to let them know.
Just before 1PM I decide to head in to Silver Gate. On my way I see a moose at Confluence as well as a sweet bedded coyote.
I rejoin Laurie & Dan who ended up staying in Lamar today. They found out that 1109F (former Junction) was somewhere near the old Druid Den area so they looked for her. Apparently, these two females were heard howling back & forth to each other for a while. I feel bad for 1109. She did not seem to have any luck this mating season and her pack has cast her out. It’s a sad wolf mystery.
Today I saw: bison, coyotes, elk, 2 pronghorn, bighorn sheep, 4 moose, 1 wolf (Mollie 1239F) and the spirits of Allison and Richard.