We start from Gardiner at 7:17 today. 21 degrees.
Slept great. Clear sky, sliver of a moon. Pronghorn at the entrance. Gardiner Canyon has snow but not a lot. We scope from Boiling River. Becky gets a call on her cell. Lamars are on the bison carcass east of Soda Butte and 8 Mile wolves are being seen on the Blacktail.
We go to S Curves. Richard has found the 8 Mile Pack way up on a snowy slope. At first he saw three and had it confirmed by Carl. Then they went out of sight. We pass around cookies, yak, then suddenly a gray appears, walking across the slope. The gray wakes up several former ďrocksĒ and suddenly we have six wolves walking uphill! Some people count as many as 13. The light is in our eyes so I have trouble deciding if they are black or gray.
I watch them stretching, moving up the hill. Some of these wolves are really large!
We lose them over the top. Then I see one black moving among the black rocks. There are heat waves and I donít think people believe me. There is another gap of no sightings, then Richard finds them again, in the spot where I had seen my black! Well, a little bit higher. When they appear this time I count 9.
Rick comes by later and confirms these are 8 Mile wolves.
We also see a moose family; a bull, cow & calf in the willows below us, just where we had seen two of them last night.
It's now 10:52. I am headed into Lamar.
Floating Island Lake is frozen, snowed over and lots of tracks.
Lots of bison in Tower Flats. Lamar Canyon is all snowed over. Canít see water or otters. Beautiful Lamar Valley and Druid Peak!
Two coyotes in the flats below Dorothy's. They cross Rose Creek.
A jeep is off the road across from Hitching Post. We stop and I get out my mats. Many people gather to help. My mats are now full of snow but the guy trying to drive it out is too much of a cowboy and keeps making it worse. Finally a guy in a truck with a tow strap arrives and gets him out.
Itís 3PM, 19 degrees. Sunny and bright. We find both the carcasses that we were told about. One south of the road east of Soda Butte and another to the north, but see nothing but birds. The Lamar wolves have still not found the elk with scabies, or if they have, they donít want it.
Lots of discussion about what wolves can smell or not in winter and frozen meat.
We see a bighorn on the knob above us. A gray jay, and many bison.
We decide to stay here and sit vigil at the bison carcass. A couple joins us Ė the manís name is Travis.
At 5PM I pack up my scope. Becky packs up hers, too but Chloe takes her time. Travis suddenly says Black Wolf - between the trees! And sure enough down they came. 5:06PM! They were up in the trees the whole time.
The Black female is still full of vim & vigor. Big Gray is nonchalant. Both look very healthy. She poops, then goes to the carcass, even stopping to stalk the birds, then charges in, scattering them. She eats for about 10 minutes. He comes down to the flats, beds and waits for her. She comes back to him, ambushes and jumps on him. Lovely sweet greeting. Then she flings herself into a snow bank to rub and he follows her. After this I really cannot see anymore.
Story & her dad plus Juliet & Phil got here in time to see them. We all revel in the sighting.
Itís a long, long drive back in the dark, but totally worth it.
Itís really cold tonight. My car temp reads 3 degrees! In Gardiner Canyon we have to stop for a duck in the road!
Dinner at K Bar. Great pizza but had to wait a long time.
Today I saw: bison, 2 coyotes, elk, a gray jay, 3 moose (including a calf), pronghorn, bighorn sheep, 11 wolves (including 9 members of the 8 Mile Pack and the two remaining members of the Lamar Canyon Pack (Big Gray and the Black Female) and the spirit of Allison.