DAY TEN - Sunday, April 24

MORNING AT SLOUGH

Another light dusting has fallen overnight. The sky seems lighter than usual today, perhaps because for once itís not snowing!

I stop at Coyote but see no wolves or bears, but on a boulder near the split rock I find an eagle.

I continue to Slough where I find excellent visibility. I end up spending the next 3 hours watching wolves from here.

My first wolf is a black, bedded by the single tree left of 890ís. When it gets up, it reveals a previously unseen gray there as well. This gray pins the black. We now notice a collar (1341F). She pins a two-year old black twice this morning.

Throughout the day, more and more wolves appear, for a total of 8 (five black, three gray).

The twice-pinned black ends up at the sage den, going in, coming out and then bedding above it.

Two uncollared yearlings show up soon after this (fluffy and skinny). They both grovel their way to the Alpha female, submitting appropriately to her.

Then the limping black (thermal girl) arrives and is promptly pinned by 1341F. I am confused by 1341ís continual dominant behavior. Who does she think she is? Sheís only two and sheís not a mother. I guess itís just her personality. The only wolf she appears submissive to is the Alpha Female.

Another black appears in the willows at the bottom of the cliff but I canít remember who this is. (1048Mís signal is in Lamar, according to Jeremy. We see neither cocoa yearling today so they may be keeping the old boy company).

The Alpha Male arrives at the Eastern Trees. He may have come in from elsewhere, or he could have been bedded out of sight the whole time. When he shows up, though, several previously unseen wolves make their appearance when they rise to greet him.

The limping female comes out of the natal den, down the hill to the Alpha Male, soliciting a feeding. She is quickly followed by the Alpha Female, who also emerges from the natal den. She is greeted by many wolves but I donít see her get a feeding (she probably did, though).

She and the Alpha Male walk together and bed near 890ís tree.

Someone reports seeing 1048 near the Soda Cone, chasing a bison calf with no success.

Around 10:30 I say my goodbyes. Itís time for me to head east to pack up and clean.

I am very happy though, since I finally had the kind of multiple hour wolf-viewing morning I had been wanting all week.

Later I learn I missed another sighting of 1228ís mate in Round Prairie, this time at the western end.

As I head east from Pebble, I see a bull bison in a wallow just off the road to the left, on its back, kicking its legs out. With no one behind me, I stop and watch him roll in the wallow, then violently kick his legs out once again.

But then he rolls quickly to his feet and gallops like a bullet onto the road, continuing to gallop for another 100 feet. A car coming the opposite way sensibly stops and the bull slows down. But when the bison reaches the car, I hold my breath as the bull lowers his head and swings it AT THE CAR.

Whoa! Whatís up with this fella? This is rut behavior but itís April! Luckily it does NOT make contact and just walks past the car.

Yikes. I donít want to get too close to this bull! Something pissed him off. Not sure what. The woman in the car makes giant eyes at me, in relief, I guess. I stay where I am, waiting for the bull to get out of the road. Luckily, he moseys into the trees, as if his fit of pique never happened.

I now see blue sky above and bright sun on the mountains. Looks great!

I leave Silver Gate around 12:30, with many thanks to L & D.

I see Jeff, Bill and Frank at Coyote so I stop to say farewell. They saw three wolves from here, earlier but only one cocoa yearling remains in view. I get a brief glimpse and thank them for my ninth wolf!

Looks like Laurie was right Ė they have a carcass here somewhere behind the trees.

I stop at the Osprey nest and see one adult.

I stop at Slough again and check in with Paul. He reports another pinning by 1341 of a black. I see a black at the sage den and the Limping black moving down the hill through the willows. She goes to the Alpha Male and greets him.

These are all wolves I saw this morning so my count remains at 9 for the day.

I say goodbye to Paul and head west. A huge herd of bison jams the road above Yellowstone Bridge so I have to wait a bit. I realize I have not been west of Boulder in a whole week!

At Floating Island Lake I spot a red tail hunting.

The temperature rises to 46 as I wind through Gardiner Canyon. I stop to say goodbye to Allison, letting her know how grateful I am for this trip.

The mountains in Paradise Valley are simply stunning, with twice the snow they had on my drive in. The area certainly lives up to its name today!

Today I saw: bison, a golden eagle, elk, a hawk, an osprey, pronghorn, 9 Junction wolves (including AF, AM, limper, 1341, fluffy, skinny, one cocoa yearling, plus 2 more blacks and the spirits of Allison and Richard.


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