Today I am up and out at 6:30 following Carolís advice. I see Rick leaving. Itís very dark which means itís still cloudy. There is a bit of frost on the car but my heater takes it off, quickly.
Well, we have enough light, but still no wolves in sight. Itís now 8:22. I spend some time up on Geriatric hill with Charles, Mark & Carol. Rick says 965M is out there to the south somewhere but we never find him. I hear that last night the Junctions came down to the river and then crossed the road to the north near Rose Creek.
We see elk and bison and some serious cloud cover. I go back to my car and try scoping from Trash Can for a while, but donít see anything. We all reason that the Junctions could head west back to the Slough area.
Just then we get a call from Stacy. Heís found the Junctions, bedded on the Peregrine Hills. I head there and arrive in time to see four of them: a black bedded on a rock and three grays below him. There is talk of a carcass, east of Junction Butte in the draw that leads to the Buffalo Ford.
We get a bit noisy in the lot and the wolves move off to the north. Uh oh. So now we spread out to try to find them. On Alanís suggestion, I go to the lower lot at Slough, while Richard goes out on Bobís Knob. Rick scopes from Lamar Canyon west. He finds them at the Round Tree and I find them shortly afterwards.
My high count is 16 wolves: Five black and 11 gray. Many wagging tails. A few other folks down here scoping with me think we see a bear eating berries somewhat close to the wolves, but we never see it clearly. It turns out it was a bison in the willows! Hah!
The wolves begin to run into the flats, tails high. Iím told there is Prospect scent here from a few days ago. They mill around, sniffing, then proceed along the flats and then begin to climb. They wander onto a rocky knob just below and east of the old Slough den area. They cross that knob and disappear into willows and forest, then return to mill around and eventually bed. We watch them for four hours until finally one by one they get up and move into shade and out of sight.
In between wolf viewing, I also see a beaver swimming in the creek and find both a golden and a bald eagle perched in trees.
While the wolves are settling down on the knob, a disturbed coyote barks at them from below. He keeps up his insult-laden tirade for nearly an hour. Several of the younger wolves stare down at the poor creature, thinking dark thoughts, but the coyote keeps up its defiant barking. I think his intent was simply to keep them from sleeping. I keep expecting the pups to head downhill and chase him but they donít. Finally he gives up.
Another visitor clearly wants the wolves to ďcome this wayĒ so he can photograph them. He does manage to get a photo of a coyote, and he wants to believe it is a wolf. I decide to be kind and let him have his fantasy. Later he shows the same picture to Steve and Richard and they tell him itís a coyote.
Before they fall asleep, though, the wolves give us a beautiful howl. Oh, it sounds so nice in this spot. I manage to get a photo of them on the knob through my scope.
While we are here, we hear a confusing report of some sort of carcass near the Soda Butte cone. Someone checks it out and lets us all know it is a blue heron caught by a golden.
I end up staying here at Slough all day. We have a tailgate party. Some of the nicest people are here, and itís very pleasant out Ė not too cold. Laurie & Dan finally arrive at 4:30, they got the car started and charged up, and did all their shopping. After they head out, I leave around 5:40, wanting to help my hosts unload.
Of course the wolves wake up again around 6:30. They romp, rally and head north, but I miss that part! Instead I am heading east. I stop to scope at Footbridge by myself for a bit. Itís so nice to be here all alone in this place so full of wonderful memories.
The high mountains are now crowned with bright white snow. The golden hour is at its peak. Wow, so beautiful.
Today I saw: bison, coyotes, elk, pronghorn, 16 wolves (Junction Butte. Including 890M, 970F, 968F, 969F, 911M and lots of pups) and the spirit of Allison