I’m out early and find it snowing lightly; I see Rick leaving and I head out at 6:23. The road is slightly slushy.
I stop at Confluence. Rick is already up on the hill – he has the Lamar Canyons heading south in the snow-fog. He knows they are about to go out of sight so I climb up as quickly as I can. Through his scope I see 6 black ghostly shapes for a split second.
By the time I get my own scope up they are lost in the white out.
Rick saw all eight, I only saw six (all the black ones!)
Some folks had driven to Trash Can and were able to see them for a little while but they were out of sight quickly.
The snow is quite wet this morning; it’s almost rain. Finally at 8:30 it stops and the sun comes out. Laurie and Kathie and I scope in many places but find nothing.
Dusty calls from Hellroaring. He had two grays going east. We drive that way but do not find anything. Calvin and Lynette call from Swan Lake Flats. They have four 8 Mile wolves in view from there.
We head that way. At first Laurie & I stop at Elk Creek to try to find Dusty’s grays as they could be coming through the Junction Lake area. I notice the high peaks are picking up a nice new dusting of snow.
Just as we are passing Liberty Cone in Mammoth, Laurie relays that Calvin & Lynette called: their wolves have gone out of sight. Arggh! And of course, then we get another message that the Lamars made a surprise return, reappearing in the rendezvous back east. Agghh!
Those who remained in Lamar were able to watch them playing.
Another report from Dusty at Lower Hellroaring. This time he has both grays and blacks chasing elk far west of Hellroaring. There is still lots of fog, and according to Dusty, the wolves disappeared into that fog!
We get all the way to Slough only to be told the Lamars have gone back out of sight – they are off Cache way again. Aiii!!!
It’s just one of those days!
We go back to Lower Hellroaring to scope for a while. Calvin & Lynette join us, finding nothing, and then we all head east again.
Finally around 11 AM Calvin finds the Junction wolves between Curve and Boulder. I set up below Boulder hill and watch them walking in the rocks above the Bison ford.
The weather remains unsettled, a bit of misty rain and a bit of wind.
I see five Junctions for sure; two blacks and three grays. Laurie sees two more grays for a count of 7. They are very hard to show people because they are far way and mostly bedded. They seem as though they have a carcass nearby; they look fit and full. I watch them walk and sniff and explore, along with lots of bedding.
The collars are 907F (GPS collar), 870F (alpha) and 890M (alpha). I’m not sure which others were there.
A little after 1PM it starts grappling heavily. Laurie, Kathie and I head east.
They both head in while I brave the wind on Trash Can hill a while, looking in the r-v and out Cache way. I see no wolves – only bison, and a lone bald eagle in a tree.
I drive back west and set up at Curve, watching the Junctions for the next 3 hours. At one point 870F comes down the rocks to where 890M was bedded under a tree. She sits next to him with her head resting on him, which looks to me like a lovely, affectionate gesture. Then she gets up and moves east, joining two other grays there. My count is now 9 wolves. Yay!
I also see two of the blacks come down to pay homage to 890M.
So, after a “just missed ‘em” morning, it turns out to be a nice long wolf sighting, although fairly mundane. And once the grapple stops it’s actually a nice evening, punctuated by the fact that two friendly guys from Spain were able to see their first wild wolves.
At 6:40 I head back to Silver Gate. The sky looks clear now.
Today I saw: bison, a bald eagle, elk, 15 wolves (6 from Lamar and 9 from Junction Butte) and the spirit of Allison.