There is another 3 inches of fresh snow that fell overnight. I see fox tracks in Laurie’s driveway while I clear the car.
It’s 16 and cloudy, still snowing lightly.
As I approach Trash Can I see the crew driving east. I pull in at Dorothy’s to join Rick, Mark & Carol. No wolves here; the crew is trying to find them.
In the meanwhile, I find a fox to the southwest and a coyote to the southeast. Hmmm – now I need a wolf!
The crew stops by and Rick checks in with them. Apparently, the signals indicate that the Junctions have a carcass somewhere north of Secret Passage. Unfortunately, though, the snowfall is too thick even if there were a pullout that offered a view.
I ask about scoping from Longs? Jeremy says it’s a possibility, so I head there. I don’t find them, but I do find the hill they travelled up, so I’ve learned something at least!
I continue west and try Elk Creek and Lower Hellroaring, looking for the smaller group of Junctions. I hear a radio report. Come to Hellroaring.
Taylor is here with her guests. She’s found 1109, traveling alone. I see her, trotting just above the Yellowstone corridor, heading west.
It is still snowing lightly. We are all perplexed about the smaller group of Junctions. Where are they?
When 1109 goes out of sight, we regroup at Longs. Word is that the crew found evidence of a carcass (birds and coyotes) on Secret Passage thanks to the long view from Picnic, but the Junction signals have dropped off.
We do a bit of “hope-scoping” from here but do not find them.
Our conversation turns from wolves to a winter phenomenon we have all noticed. The frost heaves in the road. There are four or five spots between Hellroaring and Round Prairrie where repeated freezing and thawing under the road bed has caused severe buckling, resulting in lumps in the road, like speed bumps on steroids.
Some are quite high and if you are driving anywhere over 20mph, you really get a bounce.
There are two in Lamar Canyon, worse on the west bound side than the east. There is another just east of Longs; again, worse on the west bound side. Heading eastward, the worst one is between Lamar Bridge and Slough and there is another right at the Yancy’s Hole trailhead as you head down to Yellowstone River Bridge.
I ask if these bumps will settle down once the weather warms up and I’m told, yes, probably. I am documenting this so I can compare it in the coming years. As I spend more time in the Park without long gaps between visits, I find I notice this sort of thing.
Laurie & Dan head back to Lamar. I see Bob L at Slough so I stop to talk with him a while. He’s been having good luck with otters from an unlikely spot – Blacktail ponds! I continue east and learn from Laurie that the crew has had sporadic sightings of “ant wolves” from Picnic but they are about to move to Fishermans.
I pull in there and set up my scope. Suddenly I have wolves!
Two of them, a black and a gray, just below skyline, heading east.
Unfortunately, by the time people get here, my wolves are out of sight. Only one person saw what I saw. The crew goes to Coyote. There is a bison herd to the right. I see the wolves again, just left of the bison but they top out almost immediately.
Try as we might, we never see them again. I follow Laurie & Dan back to Picnic. Jeremy finds a single black north of Secret Passage and I see it briefly, before more snow moves in. It was an ant-wolf, in roughly the same area we saw them last evening.
Dan finds bighorn sheep a bit higher on the same hill.
Despite blue sky above us, more snow arrives so we head to Silver Gate for a break.
I come back out at 3PM. It’s warmed up to 28 and the snow has finally departed. I find the crew at Longs. They had wolves briefly from here but nothing now. We scope anyway and have an interesting chat.
Mark & Carol arrive and tell us about their snow-shoeing adventure. They went up to the old Rose Creek pen this afternoon behind the ranch, and came upon the tracks left by the Junctions yesterday. They also found a single track much lower that they believe was made by 1109.
The day has turned gorgeous and almost warm, since the wind has died.
We move back to Picnic but have no luck. Instead we see a herd of about 25 bull elk where the wolves had been. We also find an impressive big horn ram, much closer to us, posing on a rock to the north against a field of bright blue sky.
Laurie & Dan did not come out tonight, so I head in early to spend a nice evening with them, hoping for better luck tomorrow.
Today I saw: bison, coyotes, elk, a fox, bighorn sheep, 4 wolves (3 Junctions - 2 blacks and a gray - plus loner 1109) and the spirits
of Allison and Richard.