No signals in Lamar (natch) so we continue west. My first stop is at straightaway where I join a crowd already here. The Junctions are in view on the south side of the road,
Jan and Bill are here so I scope with them. At first I see the wolves bedded near some rocks in a patch of forest. It looks like they may have gotten a meal last night and are now just rousing themselves from their post feeding nap.
They head east, slowly, and we all get a nice long look at them. There are 10 total. Some of them start trending downhill as if they want to cross, but there are now cars lining all the pullouts so they give up and head back west and slightly upslope.
At one point they stop on the big ski slope hill – the one with the trail down the middle (west of Specimen trail). Half of them are east of it and half are west but they are all close enough for me to have 10 wolves in my scope at once. I try to take a photo but it doesn’t work.
I learn that Annie has to have a kidney removed. Actually that’s a relief.
Nate joins us and I see him talking with Rick again.
I stay on 890 to try to get to know him. He has a pale white bar on his chest like 302. He carries his tail regularly, not straight out or high like 21 did. I notice, though, that the un-collared male yearling DOES carry his tail high (like 21). His black tip tail has a white spot next to it, which makes the black tip stand out all the more. He is a very dark gray. The gray pups are similarly dark like he is. The two black pups very dark, very handsome.
Un-collared “Swoosh” is lightest, very light on her shoulders. For whatever reason, I did not focus on 870F very much this time so my knowledge of her has not increased.
I am so happy to have this nice, old-fashioned wolf sighting.
We eventually lose them in the trees. Many of us have agreed to accompany Mark Cooke when he visits with the Montana Commissioners just outside the Park at noon. Apparently today is a planned day in which all nine commissioners (who make the rules for the wolf hunt) are available to their constituents. We head west and meet in a Campground just north of Gardiner.
They are not particularly friendly or open and honestly, I feel like I am intruding on their day. But it’s a start. A half-dozen other local folks are here, too. The commissioners seem to know them already. When I see that, I feel like less of an intruder, but I still don’t feel comfortable. I’ll do better next time.
I learn that the commissioners have meetings in Bozeman which are open to the public so I will get that schedule and start attending those to get to know them better.
Now I say goodbye to Laurie – until Christmas – and head back to Bozeman.
Today I saw: bison, elk, mule deer, 10 wolves (all Junction Butte) and the spirit of Allison.