DAY FOUR - Friday, September 22

TWO BEARS, THREE WOLVES

Once again we had all night rain. But when I head out at 5:30 it seems to be taking a break.

My drive in is once again full of fog.

Rick and Maureen and I decide to stop at the Ranch this morning. Itís still dark but right away we hear howling coming from the back of the bench. Many voices.

Doug Mac calls from Confluence, reporting two grizzlies and a gray wolf on an old carcass.

We move to Geriatric and climb up. We find one bear quickly, then the second one, darker than the other, walking towards the first bear.

Then I see the wolf Ė a collared gray (perhaps visiting Hawks Rest wolf 1347M), just north of the first bear. I only see it when it climbs up a low knob.

The darker bear passes behind the area and disappears into the trees.

We hear a radio call that wolves are now being seen near Jasper Creek at the front, west end of Jasper Bench, so we climb down and drive back to the Ranch.

I was expecting to see these wolves move east up the valley but instead they headed north across the flats. With the help of othersí directions, I find them in the flats just west of the Amethyst waterfall (Fairies Fall).

Itís two black wolves. Their movements are bouncy and playful and I suspect we are seeing the pup and a black yearling escort.

There is a month-old bison carcass on the slope below Dorothyís which provided some great viewing in August. These two wolves seem to be headed there. Dozens and dozens of people and cars now line the road as the two wolves approach.

But when they get to the bottom of the hill, they seem to change their minds. Itís a lucky break for us, because the wolves remain in view. It they had continued on that route, we would have had to move.

Instead we watch them romp and travel through the high grass and sage of the valley floor, heading back home. They quickly reach the river, and we watch them swim it. They both pop out right about where the Mr. Moose took his tumble on Wednesday.

They climb the hill, first angling east, then turning west in the ďgapĒ between Amethyst and Jasper. We lose them but those at Dorothyís can see them a little bit longer.

After this I return east and climb up Exclosure Hill, hoping for another glimpse of the collared gray.

Iím not up here very long before the rain returns. Umbrellas start to pop up, but I only have my raincoat and hood. I stick it out a while, and I do see the dark grizzly once more back in the tree line. But I donít find the wolf.

Still, itís been a decent morning for such a gray day, so I decide to go back to Bozeman a bit early.

I say my thanks and goodbyes and head west. I stop at Slough to say goodbye to Kathie and then continue west. The rain increases.

But it doesnít stop me from appreciating the growing fall color. The trees at Aspen pullout are now orange and the color throughout the Blacktail plateau has greatly increased.

Itís just beautiful.

I say farewell to Allison up on the OGR. My last wildlife sighting is of some grazing elk among the rolling hills at the Main gate.

Today I saw: 2 grizzly bears, bison, a coyote, elk, a fox, 3 wolves including 2 Junctions (the black pup and a black yearling) plus visiting wolf 1347M, and the spirits of Allison, Richard and Jeff.

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