DAY TWO - Sunday, May 1

RAINY DAY WOLVES

Itís another cloudy, snowy morning in Silver Gate as I head out in the still dark. The temp is a pleasant 37.

When I reach Trout Lake the snow turns to rain. Uh oh, could be bad visibility today. And, as confirmation, Specimen Ridge is shrouded.

At 480ís crossing I spy two bull elk in velvet trotting north on the north side of the road. I think they may have just crossed the road from the south.

I pull over at Footbridge and take a look around, wondering if 1228 or her mate might be hunting in the vicinity. But nothing develops.

On to Slough I go only to find the den area very foggy.

I check in with the early birds (Doug, Frank & Rick). Nothing yet.

But we get a radio call from Doug Mac. He has Rescue Creek wolves in sight from Rickís pullout. I manage to get there in time, seeing 3 wolves, a black and two grays. The first two are headed west, while the second gray goes east, checking out a small herd of bison.

He loses interest pretty quickly, and turns, following the first two who have gone out of sight.

I move to Elk Creek and join L & D. Laurie puts up her scope and instantly finds a collared black (1273M) bedded on a low berm visible through the trees.

Then I see more Rescues, emerging from the tree line west of 1273. Oh man, they are REALLY close! The lead wolf is the beautiful alpha male. Next I see an uncollared black and two grays (according to Laurie, 1272M and 1278M, probably the same three I saw from Rickís). They move through the edge of the meadow to the west. At first it looks like they might want to cross the road, but they change their minds and disappear into the trees.

More clouds roll in and rain begins to fall.

With no more wolves in sight, and the rain beginning to pour, I head back to Slough. Visibility here is still bad so I try Crystal. Itís a tiny bit better here so I wait out the rain by having breakfast and coffee.

After my second sip, visibility improves. Taylor and Luke stop by and Luke finds a wolf right away. Itís big gray 1339M (who has been missing from the Junctions for about a month). He is wandering about, eyeing some bison who have come to visit the den area.

I am delighted to see a familiar truck. Itís Larry & Linda from Green River. Hugs all around.

We watch a while, then get a welcome call from Bill. Heís at the Institute with wolves in view. We pack up and go there.

By the time I get to Lamar Bill recommends going further east, so we end up at Trash Can. The rain has stopped for the moment and I have 4 Junction wolves in view: a black, 2 collared grays and an uncollared gray. They are testing bison directly south. Then Laurie finds 1048M further west of these four. As he gets closer, the four wolves run over to greet him.

While we are enjoying this sighting, several other watchers at the barn are amazed to see a big grizzly wander down from the hills right into the cabin area behind the barn.

The bear sniffs at various doorways, standing on the cabin steps. Luckily, no one is IN those cabins. Bill is in his car but continues to report on this bear as it continues its inspection. Ranger Big John arrives, at first shooing the people back to their cars and then making an attempt to shoo away the bear.

After meeting 1048M, the Junctions move west. They stop at the old carcass for a while. The black yearling pulls some morsel from the gully carcass, carries it to a bit of remaining snow on the ground and sits down to gnaw on it.

A collared gray moves up the old riverbank, wanting to cross the remaining snow patch. The snow is very mushy, though, and the wolf stumbles a bit, creating a mini-avalanche. Soon the wolf chooses a safer route, gaining the top of the bench where there is a clear trail.

After this, the rest follow. They are now atop Amethyst bench, steadily moving west.

The Institute Inspector Bear responds to the hazing by crossing the road south. I suspect he will head for the old carcass soon.

I move to the barn and enjoy hearing everyoneís story about Inspector Bear. The Junctions come into view again on the saddle at the eastern end of Jasper. Their arrival causes a bison herd to bunch up but nothing comes of it.

And sure enough, the bear is now at the old carcass. He goes straight to the spot where the black yearling had bedded, gnawing on something. The bear picks up whatís left and chows down!

I move on to Dorothyís and reconnect with Larry & Linda, just as they lose the Junctions at the back of Jasper. Looks like they are on their way back to the dens.

So, we head to Slough once more, this time to the north den.

We are in time to see the Alpha Female enter the natal den.

Around 11:20 the rain returns so I decide to go in for a nap.

Druid peak is shrouded spookily as I drive by, proving it was named well.

Every day I drive into the Park gives me a new view of it, even in low light. I know the area very well, but every day is different, depending on the amount of clear or cloudy, and each dayís amount of atmospherics. When Norris and Specimen are shrouded, the valley looks entirely different from when they are starkly visible. It is always gorgeous, and always offering a new version of itself.

Right now, heading east, the high peaks of Thunderer & Abiathar, are shrouded so they look different, too! Itís just amazingly beautiful. It calms and enriches me and makes me grateful that I get to live here and see it.

Back in Silver Gate, I get a quick nap and chat with Laurie & Dan. As we are prepping dinner, I look out the window and see the fox in the driveway again, just like last night. She heads towards the road and a car stops. The driver gets out with a camera, trying to get a photo, but the fox evades him, circling back west, making his escape through thick vegetation near the propane tank.

Today I saw: a grizzly, bison (including calves), a coyote, elk, a fox, pronghorn, 12 wolves from 2 packs; 5 Rescue Creeks (including AM, 1273M, one uncollared blacks and 2 uncollared grays) plus 7 Junctions (including AF, 1048M, 1339M, 1340M, 1341F, skinny yearling and one uncollared black) and the spirits of Allison and Richard.


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