DAY THREE - Thursday, September 21


After another rainy night I am expecting fog today. It’s 42 degrees at 5:30AM. Sure enough, there is a lot of fog on the drive in this morning. Soda Butte Valley is quiet and misty.

I pull into Dorothy’s, seeing only two other cars. It’s quiet here, too, and no howling. I continue west, figuring I’ll try my luck outside Lamar today.

The road through the Canyon is very muddy, making my car shimmy a little, but I get through.

At Slough, since the campground road is still open, I drive down to Doug’s lot, where I spent so much time this spring watching the Junction den. It’s just light enough to see so I set up my scope. I hear no howling and find no wolves, but I do see bison and geese.

I sip my coffee as the light grows. This is such a beautiful spot, full of wonderful memories. It’s a great, quiet way to start my day.

At 6:40 I continue west, stopping to scope at Lamar River Bridge, Boulder Hill, Petrified Tree. I drive past Elk Creek and check in with Doug M at Lower Hellroaring. He has nothing yet.

I go on to Hellroaring Overlook, happy to find the view mostly fog-free. Some wisps still hug the highest slopes but most of the other areas are clear enough to see wolves if they were there. But I find none.

I head back east and discover that Doug has moved to Elk Creek. I join him and we chat a bit. We find nothing in Yancey’s Hole, nor Flat Top, nor Junction Lake. When I turn my scope to the hills and plateaus on Specimen I am surprised to find quite a bit of snow!

One hillside has ungulate tracks through it. I can see snow on Druid Peak, on the Norris fingers, on Abiathar and Avalanche. Nice! I find it interesting that at road level all we had was rain, while the peaks have whitened.

“Winter is coming” I say to myself.

Doug finds sheep on the cliffs and a coyote in Yancy’s Hole. I find two elk. After a while, Doug heads back west and I move to Petrified tree. Still no wolves. Taylor has been driving back and forth several times. It seems she is having trouble finding wolves, too.

Someone radios from Lamar of a single black wolf below the K meadow.

I head that way, knowing I will likely arrive too late. I hear an update while stopped at the Yellowstone Bridge light, that the wolf is now in view from Trash Can, heading west.

I reach Dorothy’s and find Laurie & Kathie, but they tell me I’m too late. It went out of sight in the usual place towards the back of the bench.

Kathie thinks she might go to Hayden. We remain for a bit, chatting and scoping, scanning constantly for movement. There is still fog lingering at the back of Jasper Bench, and up on the higher slopes where I’d otherwise look for bears.

We do have bison and pronghorn to watch. One busy-body male pronghorn is antsy, corralling his females and at least one fawn. He chases any male that gets within 200 yards and seems to want his harem to stay in a tight group.

Rick is still up on Cardiac Hill. I learn later that his screenwriter friend Zach and his son were up there with him.

We head east for a break.

The day remains gloomy and everyone else chooses to stay in for the evening. They all saw the single wolf, but since I missed it, I choose to head back out around 6:15.

A light rain is falling. I see a fox just before Warm Creek.

Soda Butte Valley is quite empty. There are no cars at Footbridge. Just one intrepid fisherman at the Confluence. Thick fog remains on the upper third of the hillsides.

I see Gary and Celia on Trash Can Hill, scoping underneath their umbrellas. I join them and find they have two bears near the foothills. I manage a peek at the bears but I don’t stay long, though since I have no umbrella! But I thank them for making my drive worth the effort!

I head back to Silver Gate through drizzle, gloom and fog.

Today I saw: 2 grizzly bears, bison, coyotes, elk, a fox, big horn sheep, snow, and the spirits of Allison, Richard and Jeff.

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