YELLOWSTONE IN MARCH

DAY 3 - Tuesday, March 18

WOLVES IN VIEW

I brush an inch or two of powdery snow off the car this morning. It’s much colder this morning but the snow has stopped and it’s very clear. I see fox tracks across Laurie’s front yard.

A bright moon is visible and the roads looks clear, with snow patches in the forested areas.

I just HAVE to see wolves today!!!

As we approach Round Prairie, I see wolf tracks in the snow along the road. We stop at Round Prairie and Doug tells me he believes they crossed to the north in the willows just east of Pebble Creek heading in the direction of Trout Lake.

Rick calls – he has Lamar signals on the north side from Soda Butte East. We spread out from Trout Lake to the cone, scoping to the north. Doug sees bird activity and a golden eagle in a tree. It’s frustrating to know they are so close and not be able to see them. But apparently, this is normal for these two.

Guess what? It starts to snow again. The moon is shrouded in a snow haze, making it look really cool.

At 7:00 it was only 10 degrees and by 8:50 it has only “warmed” to 11. We hear coyote howls to the south and find them along the creek bank.

As the day gets brighter, we have less faith that the Lamars will show up so we head west as far as the confluence. We see bison there, and ducks, but the moose are gone. By 9:07 it feels downright warm at 20 – and the snow has finally stopped, letting the sun out – sort of.

I hear a report of Junctions to the west.

As I drive I notice snow berms in Lamar where there were none yesterday. The sun comes out in full and it’s so great to see all the new snow on the ground. MO< We stop at Lamar Canyon West. Bob L is here, and I tell him how much my family loved his “She Wolf” film.

Apparently the Junctions were seen from Hellroaring for about an hour in the Tornado Drainage but are now long gone. The crew did not tell Rick so no one (including him) knew to go there.

We keep driving west and join Rick at the big Ski Lot. Kevin and his group is here, with their scopes trained in the Petrified Tree area, exactly where we were looking yesterday, when we had wind and snow in our faces. The 8 Mile “splinter group” is in that area, 763M and 821F and the third sister.

Laurie sets up and in about two minutes, she finds them!

Finally! I am no longer wolf-less on this trip. The day has become bright and sunny. Laurie says she saw a track in the snow and followed it until she found a bedded black and two grays, which is exactly the right color combo for the signals Rick had.

At first they are all asleep. Then the black and one gray get up and disappear into a gully. The other gray is still asleep. She is on her side. At one point she rolls on her back with her four paws in the air.

Apparently, signals for 755M and 889F are good in the Lost Creek area, which is not very far from here, but not close enough to worry anyone. No one gets a visual on them, though. Eventually the two that disappeared into the gully come back out and re-bed, choosing spots in which they are much easier to see.

I am delighted to watch these three wolves, and it turns into a three hours sighting. All our wolf-watching friends who stay in Gardiner come out to see them, as these are the only wolves in view. I think every single person visiting the Northern Range stopped at some point today for a look. It's always so nice to show folks their first wild wolves.

All the crews come by, too, and get to see them.

At one point I see one of the grays wagging her tail wagging at the edge of the gully. I think there must be an old carcass there, not fresh enough to attract birds but some bones ripe for chewing maybe?

Then 821F goes into the gully and the other two eventually move to the east out of sight. After a while she follows them, and that’s all she wrote. But it’s a real treat to see them.

Laurie & Dan head in while I follow, slowly. I stop at Slough and scope around. The sky has cleared again and the whole area looks amazing.

I stop at Confluence and find two moose in the willows there. Actually in the same place where I saw a grizzly in October.

Stop at Soda Butte East to look for the Lamars again. Rick comes by and stops long enough to tell me the signals are still good.

After dinner I head back out by myself. I have Laurie’s phone with me. I scope from Soda Butte East, scanning the area where I think the Lamars might be. I see birds in trees and a bald eagle. Then I catch movement, but it’s only a coyote. He moves northeast over a hilltop and shortly afterwards I hear a sharp bark-howl. Coyote. This goes on for about 15 minutes.

In the hour I was scoping not a single car came by. That’s March in Yellowstone.

TODAY I SAW: bison, elk, 3 coyotes, 2 moose, 3 wolves (763M, 821F and gray third sister) and the spirit of Allison.




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