Iím out at 6:00. Itís 29 degrees which feels really warm.
My plan is to stop at Footbridge to listen for howling from 1239 or 1109. I arrive to find Rick here. He says he was told yesterday of a second howler to the south so I agree to listen for that, too!
Rick goes west and I stay and scope a bit. The dawn is lovely but I hear no howling, only the sound of a duckís wings as it flies west.
I continue west all the way to Dorothyís where I see Mark & Carol. We look for wolves. Some visitors at the west end of the lot find three foxes hunting separately in the flats. I see them, too, and show Mark & Carol.
One of the three makes a catch and gobbles it down. All three foxes are walking atop the crusted snow like Tolkienís Elves.
Lamar looks beautiful as a lovely sunrise begins.
My next stop is at Lower Hellroaring. Rick has found the Junctions! They are down low near the bottom of the Tornado Drainage. I see seven of them: six blacks and a gray.
The crew is at Upper Hellroaring with a second group of Junctions in view. They two groups have been howling back and forth.
The group I see includes the alphas, 907F, 1048M and 3 black pups. They begin to travel west, through the flats, with the pups playing lightheartedly as they go.
They move towards an area called Little Cottonwood drainage which is where the rest of the pack is already bedded already. After a few minutes, the crew arrives here. Jeremy and Taylor show me the second group. I see 9 of them but there are several more than that.
The easiest one to see is a bedded black. Then four more appear from the left. Then I notice additional wolves coming up a steep, sandy hill next to a large conifer. Some of them seem to be exploring the sandy area.
I check in with the traveling alpha group. They pass the Tornado Drainage and go out of sight around the corner of a forested hill. A little later I spot three of them half-way up that hill, heading directly for the ridge where the rest of the pack is. We watch their progress as they go in and out of small clearings between trees.
Eventually my high count rises to 21 (Jeremy had 23).
I learn from Laurie & Dan that Calvin & Lynette were at North Butte this morning and found 1154ís group to the north. They followed their progress east for a while but they are now bedded.
After an hour of pleasant wolf watching here at Lower, I decide to follow Rick and climb a snowy hill in order to see the 1154ís group.
Itís quite a treacherous walk but I take it very slowly. Luckily, I donít have to go too far. I set up my scope and with Rickís help, I see them bedded in snow on a flat topped hill. I recognize the beautiful gray male and 1047M. I also see big, beautiful black 1273. I end up seeing 7 of the 10 in this group.
I make it back down the hill and Iím glad I risked it.
Everyone has gone east so I head that way, too. I find Laurie & Dan and Carol and Mark at Hitching Post, out on the rolling hills. Carol made an amazing spot of a small fresh carcass to the north, below the ledge trail.
Some visitors told her they saw two gray wolves, one collared, in that area earlier today. They couldnít find it from the road so Carol took a chance looking from the rolling hills.
It looks like perhaps a deer or a big horn sheep. Of course we suspect Mollie wolf 1239, with or without an accomplice, but perhaps 1109 took it down herself?
At the moment we only see a pair of coyotes, so we know wolves are not likely around anymore. One of the coyotes walks up the hill slowly and stops to wipe his bloody face in snow.
We notice a bull moose in the willows near the creek to our left. Itís a beautiful day, but a tad windy.
We decide to pack up and head into Silver Gate for a break.
I go back out around 3:30PM but see nothing as I cruise through Lamar. Just past Aspen I see a silvery-gray coyote sleeping in the sun. Very pretty.
I find the crew at Lower Hellroaring and get caught up. The Junctions are still bedded in the same spot but we all expect them to move pretty soon.
Right at 4:30 they start to stir. We see a bit of nuzzling and the alpha female gets in her daily dose of pinning.
Several wolves start to head down the steep, sandy cliff they were exploring earlier today. I fully expect them to retrace their steps and show up near the Tornado Drainage. But they trick us and do something else, which is to almost immediately disappear.
Ack! No! We all scope mightily for almost 45 minutes but none of us can find them anywhere. There is so much country that canít be seen due to one thing or another, but itís a bit frustrating.
Jeremy checks signals and finds them weak.
Several people head to upper Hellroaring to check from there, but no luck.
They probably went low to the river corridor.
So, I pack up and return to Silver Gate. I stop at Confluence East to scope the area where Carol found the carcass. I am pleased when I find it from here but I only see birds on it.
Today I saw: bison, coyotes, elk, 3 foxes, 1 moose, bighorn sheep, 28 wolves (including 21 Junctions plus 7 from 1154ís group) and the spirits
of Allison and Richard.