There is very thick fog in the valley as I make my way to Grizzly Overlook. This is typical for Hayden Valley. I am always surprised that we donít get morning fog in Lamar more often. I suppose the difference has to do with the layout of the land.
But being this early, I get a very good parking spot. I say hello to Susan and George and to my delight, here are Rhonda and Dora! They usually only visit around Christmastime so itís great to see them here. They have newbie friends with them who donít like to get up early. I love that they came out on their own anyway!
We wait out the fog, which finally clears around 8AM. Susan finds pups to the right of the two trees in the antler deadfall. A couple of bison meander through and two of the pups dash quickly to the safety of the trees. I see a total of 3 gray pups and 1 black pup.
Rick & Doug & Kathie arrive from Lamar. Apparently there were no wolf sightings on the northern range. They all climb the hill, which is still too steep for me. It is a better view from up there, though. They report being able to see all five pups.
When the pups are temporarily out of sight, I amuse myself watching various sand hill cranes, geese, an eagle in a tree, and for a while, a grizzly mom with two cubs almost at skyline.
Later in the day we get a report of Wapiti adults near LeHardy Rapids. It sounds like the alphas crossed the road to the west somewhere in that area. Kathie & I take a drive south and scope from Trout Creek looking over the broad meadows to the west, hoping to see the adults. Itís very windy here and we have no luck, but we do meet a visitor who saw the Wapitis crossing the road near LeHardy. The photo I see is definitely a wolf, not a coyote, and very likely one of the Wapitis.
I end up back at Grizzly Overlook and catch a glimpse of the pups one more time. By 10:30 the day has warmed to 64 but it feels much warmer. The sun is bright and the sky is cloudless but weíve lost the wind. When the pups are not in view, George spends his time picking up garbage with a stick that has a nail at the end.
I spend a little time with Rick & Kathie talking about Nateís book as well as the kerfuffle between well-meaning visitors and ill-informed hikers on the Howard Eaton trail.
But itís time to head back east. I need a shower!
As I drive through Little America it appears to me that the land is drying out. Sage slopes are turning golden. I guess fall is coming early this year.
I have a nice break in Silver Gate, a nap and a shower and a call with Laurie. I tell her I am staying at Canyon again tonight.
I head back to Hayden and arrive at 5:45. By 6:30 we start seeing pups. Rhonda and Dora are here again, this time with their friends.
The pups romp and play hide and seek in the sage. They deftly avoid a bison who walks through their playground. I am sure I see four but others see five. There are also elk to watch, walking picturesquely through the river. One visitor has a Celestron sky scope which is really cool to look through. Very wide field.
The pups have been on their own all day, and perhaps for part of last night. We keep expecting an adult or two (or mom) to come back and feed them but they do not. Honestly, the pups seem fine but they are probably hungry. Some visitors worry out loud about them, which is natural. A little girl with her mom comes over and asks me about it. I tell her I think they are big enough to stay safe. They have hiding places, and they know things now. I tell them for all we know, the adults might visit at night when we canít see them, and perhaps they are even better fed than we know.
Itís a bit warmer tonight than last night and we have a few more bugs.
At 9:20 the light is too dim for me to see so I say goodnight to Rhonda and Dora. They stick it out a while longer.
As I drive north I find a huge bear jam near the corrals. Apparently it crossed the road. I never see it and never find out whether it was a grizzly or a blackie. People are pulled over every which way, out of their cars. Itís too dark for me, so I keep going.
I get settled in my spot and konk out for the night.
Today I saw: 3 grizzly bears, bison, coyotes, mule deer, elk, four Wapiti pups and the spirit of Allison.