DAY SEVEN - Thursday, April 21

BOTH SIDES NOW

No new snow this morning.

I arrive at the ranch just after 6AM, in time to see a bear leaving the carcass. Paul and Frank are at the barn. They confirm no wolves in view.

So, I go on to Slough. No sooner do I leave than Frank calls one black just showed up.

I continue to Slough anyway and see a single black at the north den. Doug had two others earlier, but we only see the one. We check the Crystal side but find nothing, so back to the ranch we go.

I join Frank and Paul at the barn and see their single black walking in the gully area. Then a thick snow squall comes through, obliterating our visibility so we retreat to our cars to wait it out.

A flock of small birds arrives, flitting and landing, lifting and landing all over the ground in the barn area. Through the blowing snow we can see ghostly shapes of bison moving in single file in a long line, traveling east to west, in the flats south of the road. It looks like a scene from the distant past, something that has occurred year after year for thousands of years. And we get to see it, too!

Once the squall passes, I hop out and set up my scope again.

The uncollared black emerges from the gully with a tasty morsel. The wolf moves up the old riverbank, covered with snow yet again, and sits down to chew on it. I start to hear a single voice howling, unseen. Itís not the yearling.

Eventually I find the howler, a black collared wolf, bedded near the one remaining cornice, where several wolves slept off their meal yesterday.

This wolf turns out to be 1276F

Michael moves to Midpoint to see her better. A few minutes later he radios that he can see many more wolves bedded to the north!

Looks like the Junctions crossed the road last night.

I pack up and head east, ending up in a dirt pullout between Midpoint and Picnic. I find them right away up on the hill, just west of the three trees.

I watch a black and a gray moving west and quickly disappearing. To the east of this pair, higher on the hill are five bedded wolves, two gray and three black. One of the blacks is a cocoa yearling who gets up and walks a bit east, deciding to mess with a small bison herd.

The bedded wolves begin to howl, answered by 1276F on the south side.

After about 5 minutes the bedded wolves get up and move west, following the route the first pair took. I see a few alerted elk ahead of them but nothing develops from that.

Meanwhile, someone radios that a collared gray just crossed the road from north to south just west of Hubbard.

I move to Hubbard and see 1276F nearing the road herself. The benefit of seeing her this close is that we can see she is lactating. It seems too early for her to be this far away from her pups. Laurie says they still need her warmth in these temperatures, but she also thinks 1276 is sharing a den with 907 and that perhaps the mothers are taking turns.

I eventually find the collared gray who crossed. It looks like 1340M. Itís moving directly towards the carcass. I also see the cocoa yearling we saw earlier. The yearling is moving north, as if following 1276F. But by now there are many more people lining the road, so the wolf turns back to the carcass.

The day has warmed to 39 and the snow is rapidly disappearing.

I lose all my wolves so I go back to check any activity at Slough. Itís quiet at both dens so I donít stay long.

When I get back to the Ranch, some people have located the cocoa yearling on the north side. Itís howling. I can faintly hear more howling, also from the north.

Eventually a black and a gray appear, but too far away for me to tell who they are. A few more wolves appear on skyline, just a head here, or a back there. They move further north and out of sight.

Itís almost noon, so probably time to head east. As I descend the long hill towards Baronette, I see a moose in my rear view mirror, crossing the road!

That counts, right?

Today I saw: 1 grizzly bear, bison (and calves), elk, a moose, 10 Junction wolves (including Alpha male, 1048M, 1276F, 1340M, 1341F, black 2 yr old, cocoa yearling, uncollared gray and two uncollared blacks) and the spirits of Allison and Richard.

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