DAY EIGHT - MONDAY, JUNE 11

A WOLFLESS DAY

Today is much cooler (34) and itís overcast again.

In the still-dark, I can see a bull moose in a marshy meadow a little west of Warm Springs.

Round Prairie is sporting a bit of fog this morning. Itís very pretty. And from Footbridge, Specimen Ridge is shrouded in wispy clouds. Very nice.

I scope from Footbridge a while but do not find any of the Lamars. I move to Hitching Post and join Rick for a walk out to the rolling hills. Since we saw 926 carry away so much of the carcass last night, we are pretty sure very little is left.

Scoping to the south, we do see bird activity, including one immature bald eagle.

We scope all over the north but see nothing moving, so we head back to our cars and split up. Rick goes back to Footbridge while I set up at Confluence East. Itís so peaceful here. I scope all over, and see several elk trotting briskly through the old Druid R-V.

I watch a lone bison running down the western shoulder of Norris. There is a herd of cows and calves below it, peacefully grazing, but this one bison gets them all excited. Soon the whole herd is running across the low hills.

I continue west and stop south of the Ranch. People are seeing the sow with two up on Ski Slope, so I watch them, too.

Then I hear a radio call of wolves being seen at Slough. Laurie, Dan, Doug, Rick and I all arrive too late. Apparently two black Junction wolves were in view for about an hour. They were last seen in the yellow grass meadow heading east.

Itís frustrating to miss a sighting, as they are so few and far between, but sometimes you canít hear a radio call from Slough if you are east of Picnic.

So we content ourselves watching a muskrat swim in the flooded bends of the creek. We also see a flicker and several cranes.

After a bit, I suggest we try to find the Crevice Lake wolves from Lower Hellroaring so we head west.

There is a lone swan on the melt pond below the Peregrine Hill.

We set up on the north side of the double lot and look for wolves in all the spots weíve seen them before. Itís pleasantly chilly and we all have our down coats on. After a while, I find a grizzly bear way out in the open meadow, full of yellow flowers. She has two cubs of the year. I think this must be the bear family I found from Upper Hellroaring two days ago. The cubs are so cute. We show them to anyone who stops.

While we are watching the grizzly, a black bear appears in the meadow behind us. Then a second bear appears; this is a courting pair. So, between the grizzly family to the north and two black bears to the south, a bear jam develops. Several people park hurriedly, leaving their tail end in the road. This is a double lot, with plenty of room, but people go nuts. As people come around the curve from the west, they see the jam and slow down, creating a potential rear-ending situation. Then along comes the family whose driver stop as right in the road and abandons her car (with her family in it). This driver, a woman, rushes over with her camera to take video of the bears. I call her back and ask her to please park so the three cars behind her can keep moving.

She gets back in, drives about 30 feetÖstops and abandons her car a second time. I am about to call her back again, but Dan intervenes, suggesting that instead I come back and watch the grizzly.

And of course, heís right.

Around 11 the grizzly goes out of sight so we head back east. We have two more bear jams on the way back to Lamar. One at Elk Creek for a black bear boar; a second at Lower Elk Creek for a mama moose & calf.

As we enter Lamar, the overcast sky makes the sunlight opaque and gorgeous. Lamar Valley is just so beautiful!

I stop once more at Round Prairie and find a mother goat and her kid up high.

Back in Silver Gate I nap and read more pages of Rickís book. We have a brief hailstorm and then the rain starts. It pours down steadily all afternoon.

When itís time to head out again, the rain has become a drizzle. I drive Rick again but Laurie & Dan come too. We drive slowly through Lamar, stopping here and there but find no wolves. We continue to Slough and are happy to see a clear sky here.

Out to Bobís we go and set up our scopes. We find much beauty and the company is terrific, but we see no wolves.

As we head back, approaching Hitching Post, I know we are all hoping for a repeat of last night, but the Lamars elude us tonight.

On east we go. As we are approaching Warm Creek we see a flagman and flashing lights up ahead. There has been an accident ahead of us. A passenger van is way off the road in a meadow to the south and a red pick-up is on the road with rear-end damage. Several men in safety vests are letting traffic by, one lane at a time, while LE talks with someone in the road.

It does not look like anyone is badly hurt but probably shaken up. Itís impossible to tell what happened although I suspect a moose or bison may have been involved. Itís not dark yet but the rain might have been a factor.

Today I saw: 3 black bears, 6 grizzly bears (including 4 cubs), bison, coyote, cranes, a juvenile bald eagle, elk, a flicker, 2 mountain goats (including a kid), 2 moose (including a calf), a muskrat, pronghorn, a swan, no wolves and the spirit of Alison.

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