DAY TWO - Saturday, July 11

THE WAPITIS

I am up at 5:45. Some are up ahead of me but not many. I decide to wash up and change clothes at the VC bathroom because it’s so big and warm.

There is fog this morning (natch). But I stop at the double pullout and watch a lone grizzly grazing to the west in the telephone pole area.

I arrive at Grizzly Overlook at 6:45. Unlike Lamar which would be full of people by now, there are only a few here. I get a great spot and get out my stove to make coffee and treat myself to a warm water face wash.

Diehard Dorothy pulls in to join me. The fog is still quite thick and we can’t see anything yet. I hear Marge on the radio calling out sightings that simply cannot be. Dorothy and I head up on the hill to the west. Around 7:20 the fog burns off. We call Rick to let him know it’s burned off. He comes up.

There is a bit of mystery about Marge. She manages to see animals that no one else sees. You can be standing next to her when she sees it and you don’t see it. Weird. She calls in sightings over the radio. She says she has the alpha female and pups heading from the point to the east. Our view is not blocked from here, and yet we cannot see them.

Finally, Dorothy sees movement between the small cut bank and the trail markers. I find the spot quickly and see two wolves moving through an open area from left to right. I’m sure one of the two is 755. The other must have been the alpha female. I keep looking and then I see a black pup crossing the opening just where I’d seen 755. Then another black pup! Woo hoo! That’s all I see. They seem to be heading to a meadow with new growth to the right.

Marge says they are still there, but again, we cannot see them.

Now someone looks west and notices a grizzly – most likely the same one I watched earlier this morning. He suddenly appears in a gap between hills to our west. He starts moseying uphill on a route towards us. He’s not trying to get us, just moving slowly in our direction.

But Rick feels he has to lead by example so he picks up his scope and ushers us all off the hill. Earlier, a group of people had hiked to the next hill to the north to try to see wolves. Rick calls to them to warn them about the grizzly, and instead of vacating the hill, they move closer to take photographs. Rick goes closer and insists they leave the hill.

This griz has a collar but he/she’s not Scarface. That makes me wonder if it has a collar because it’s caused some trouble? Anyway, I have no problem leaving the hill!

We set up at Grizzly Overlook and watch a mule deer doe roaming in and out of the sandbox areas. Hmm, someone ought to tell that deer about 755’s fondness for deer meat. We see bison, sandhills, 3 pelicans, 4 swans, a bald eagle, and a bull elk still in velvet. But the wolves do not re-appear.

Around 10:45 I leave Hayden Valley and head for Silver Gate.

I meet up with Rick again when I see him doing telemetry at Antelope Creek. He asks and I agree to help him with a task – vacuuming out his car so he can loan it to the Super to use for a Michelin photo shoot. Michelin donated the car’s tires.

My reward for helping him was to meet some rangers in the Tower office. I had never been back here before. There is a horse corral and several cabins that I somehow never saw before.

I continue east. In Little America I see a coyote cross the road. I stop to watch it a while, along with many pronghorn and bison with calves. I stop again at Dorothy’s. It’s 75 degrees but no bugs! I talk with some visitors from India who say they want to see grizzlies. I tell them it’s a big late in the day for that and give them a few tips. Then I learn they are staying in Jackson tonight, so I tell them about Willow Flats and Jackson Lake dam.

I meet up with Rick again at Footbridge. He has pretty good signals for the Lamar collars in the Middle Flats to the south. We scope but find nothing. Then the signals drop. And shortly thereafter we see hikers on the Lamar River trail. Hmm, maybe the wolves saw them and bolted?

I go on to Lauries, where, by pre-arrangement, I have a shower and a nap in her lovely home. At 4:30 I head back out. It’s now raining a bit - on and off.

I get to Grizzly Overlook around 6. Dorothy and I take up our spot on the hill to the west and are joined by Kevin and Tracey and a cheery crew of visitors, including Hunter, his friend and his mom. It’s a bit windy up here to start with, but it dies down. I am able to return the favor to Dorothy (who spotted wolves this morning) by spotting them tonight. I had been scanning the sandbox area when suddenly I see a flash of white at the edge of the trees in the right sandbox.

I yell “Right Sandbox” but only a few folks up here know where that is. Kevin and Dorothy find them in time but I don’t think Tracey does. I then see a gray pup trotting across the opening, then a black pup. The two pups play a bit, then another black pup trots across the area. Then the alpha female returns from where I lost her. Then all four head back into the trees and out of sight.

It’s a beautiful night. I meet some very nice people – including a man from Oregon who is here with two of his brothers and their children. They were at Lake last night and then moved on to the Tetons. The man forgot his laptop at Lake and his neice said she’d go back with him to retrieve it, hoping she might see wolves by doing so.

Well, they saw otters at Fishing bridge and were nice enough to show us video. Dorothy and I told them all about the wolves. Unfortunately they were just coming up the hill when I yelled “Right Sandbox” but were unable to see the Wapitis. We tried hard to find them again but no luck.

Instead, we showed them a mule deer, the sandhills with colts, a bald eagle, an osprey and two grizzlies. All in all, a very nice night.

As dark begins to fall I head back to Canyon for another night.

TODAY I SAW: 3 grizzly bears, bison, coyote, sandhill cranes (including colts) mule deer, a bald eagle, elk, an osprey, pelicans, pronghorn, swans, 5 of the 6 wolves of the Wapiti Pack (including 755 twice, the alpha female twice, two black pups twice, and one gray pup) and the spirit of Allison.




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