DAY SIX - Wednesday, September 13


I leave Silver Gate at 5:39 on my last full day for a while. The sky is overcast and it feels chilly at 31 degrees.

As usual, my first stop is at Dorothy’s. We hear distant howling from the back of Jasper Bench but have no visuals. Many people decide to climb Cardiac Hill, but I just can’t convince myself to do it today.

Around 8 AM, Gary calls from Hubbard. He’s spotted a collared gray wolf in the flat, heading west towards Amethyst. Thanks to him, I find it just as it reaches the bottom of the bench. I lose it and find it again higher on the slope. See? I don’t have to climb that hill to see a wolf!

At the same time, Michael sees an uncollared gray near the back of the bench moving east. I get lucky and find that gray for just a split second, as it disappears behind a boulder.

I see Gary’s collared gray once again as it nears the Jasper Creek drainage.

For a while, we have nothing in view, and more people decide to climb the hill. I scope around from the lot, finding sheep, a few elk, sandhills, pronghorn and bison, including a very thin-looking bull.

Michael finds his gray again on Amethyst now, still heading east. He moves to Hubbard and I join him there. We watch this gray travel slowly and steadily down the bench. Michael says “that’s 907F”. Yay! I am always glad to see her.

At the small fan west of the big fan she stops near the treeline. She seems to have found something small to eat, maybe a cache from an earlier carcass? She sits down to eat, becoming harder to see in the high sage.

She takes her time with her meal, then gets up and heads back west, this time following a sneakier route just inside the treeline.

When she enters the thicker trees of Amethyst drainage I lose her, so I head to the Ranch. Rick and I scope from here but we never find her.

Missy and Andy arrive and join us. We see three coyotes by the river and a bald eagle perched in a cottonwood tree but never find the wolf again.

I take Missy and Andy to Dorothy’s so I can orient them to the area. I point out the line of trees at the top of Jasper Creek, or at least where it connects to the unseen rendezvous meadow. I name it the “scrawny grove.”

Around noon a rain squall arrives, sending us into our cars. We head east. Missy and Andy need to walk the dogs and check into their motel and I need to do my stretches.

We reconvene at Dorothy’s around 5PM and continue searching for Junctions. We find the usual sandhills, elk, bison and pronghorn. Then Missy finds a bear up on the slope we call The Bell! Yay Missy! The bear moves up higher and higher, all the way to skyline so lots of people get to see it.

The rain has left a very pretty mist on the mountains, wafting here and there.

Then Krystina radios for us to come to the Confluence. When we arrive, we find she has spotted 1341F, bedded right across the Soda Butte, east of its confluence with the Lamar. We are wide-eyed but stay very quiet as we set up our scopes.

Wolf 1341F blends into her surroundings extremely well. If she doesn’t move, it is truly hard to see her, even though she is barely 100 yards away. She’s almost too close for my scope. I use my binoculars for most of this sighting.

She seems restless and keeps looking across to a sharp bend in the creek, full of willows, rocks and driftwood.

She gets up and moves closer, re-beds, coughs, and scratches a bit. I look at Missy and Andy. We are so happy to be seeing this!

A visitor arrives from the east (but doesn’t stop) tells us there are two coyotes just below the road right at the bend and that he thinks he can smell something dead there.

1341 gets up again and crouches into a stalking position. She crosses two shallow channels of the creek and disappears into the thicket. The coyotes burst out on the road-side of the thicket and stop in the road, looking back.

We can’t see the wolf anymore but alas, two cars drive to that spot and stop to look. We know they will spook her, and sure enough, she comes out quickly, walking back west along the sandbank actually getting closer to us.

A family with two kids has stopped. I lower my scope to give them a look. A few people try to go past us on foot with cameras, but Krisztina stops them. She explains the wolf will leave if they do that. She helps them find the wolf from her position and they are happy to get photos from there.

1341F beds down again on the sand, blending in again. She stays here quite a while, even lowering her head onto her paws for a brief nap.

Darkness is coming, and now that she’s flushed the coyotes, she will get some kind of meal very soon.

Around 7:45 I can’t see well enough anymore, even this close, so I quietly thank Krisztina once more, hug Missy and Andy and drive east. I think the smile on my face lasted the whole way.

Today I saw: a grizzly bear, bison, coyotes, sandhill cranes, a bald eagle, elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, four Junction wolves including 907F, 1341F, another collared gray and an uncollared gray, and the spirits of Allison, Richard and Jeff.

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