I head out at the usual time this morning - to the tune of 46 degrees. I feel a cold sore developing on my lip along with a slight sore throat, too. Hmmm.
Just like yesterday, I start my day at the Confluence, and soon I'm climbing Geriatric hill with Kathie. She quickly finds a wolf!
It's 754, who has just popped up in the sage at the eastern end of the rendezvous. We watch him travel across the open area to the upper bank of the river. He moves right along the edge of the former river bank and then down into the willows. It looks like he's aiming for 21's crossing.
And sure enough, that's just what he does, but in doing so, gives over a hundred happy people a nice view of a wild wolf.
Kathie and I discuss how we might improve our chances of seeing the elusive pups. We consider heading out to DPH, but are not eager to find ourselves leading a parade out there. There are so many people in the pullout, we decide not to go.
Then we learn that Doug M is already up there and that Chris & Tom have accompanied him. They soon report a wolf sighting, but not one of the pups. Its a black yearling - with an orange road cone in its mouth!
Shortly after this, several wolves come into view above 480's Crossing from Footbridge. It's yearlings, of course. They are the most restless. I see 820, the uncollared gray yearling and one of the black yearlings. They seem interested in a bison herd scattered on the low hills north east of here.
The yearlings are not in any serious pursuit, but they cause a major traffic jam of gawkers. Luckily, this time, none of the wolves seem interested in crossing. They are just antsy at being cooped up in the den area all this time, tending to the pups, day after day.
One by one they head back west towards the den area. There is always a chance when this happens that the pups come down a ways to greet them, but...it doesn't happen.
A little later we see 820 again, in the same area, but by herself. She's taking a walkabout by herself to the east. She moves past the bison and continues, staying fairly high on the north hills.
I drive east and join Laurie and Dan at Soda Butte east. From here I get a good look at her. I meet a mom and her teenaged daughter in this pullout who are very interested in the wovles. The teenager is very serious; she is doing a paper on wolves for her school. And she knows that the wolf she is seeing is the daughter of the 06.
It appears that 820 might want to cross the road to the south, but with this many cars, she is likely to be thwarted. She turns back north and finally goes out of sight.
A bit later in the day I meet Tom & Chris and Tracy & Kevin at the Institute. I am taking them on the short hike up to the Rose Creek pen. It's kind of hot for a hike but we make sure we take plenty of water.
At first Tracy is apprehensive (probably due to a worry about bears) but in the end I know she is really glad she went. I take it slow (I am not a fast hiker anyway!) and we enjoy the journey. I am grateful to Ballpark Frank for showing me the way all those years ago.
There are gobs of wildflowers and of course I show them the huge elk rack near the creek. We take lots of photos, and enjoy all the butterflies, as well.
When we get to the pen I can feel the appreciation of history here. Since my last visit, even more trees have fallen over the fence and the vegetation inside the pen makes it nearly impassable. But I am really glad the Park decided to leave it here. It is history.
We take a break in the shade and eat some lunch, and we temporarily lose Kevin, but he returns soon. On our way back we see a sage grouse with eight babies, more butterflies and wildlfowers, and we see a flicker and a robin.
And my friends love the view of Lamar Valley and Druid Peak from up here, too.
Once we get back to the Institute, I encourage them to join me in Rose Creek where we take off our boots and have a cool soak. We have to wave off the skeeters here, but it's worth it!
I soak my head, too and find the temperature has risen all the way to 87!
Then off we go our separate ways and I find another shady spot for a nap.
Around 6PM I meet Tom and Chris again at the curve east of 480's crossing. There is rampant speculation that tonight we will see pups! Instead we see one of the black yearlings out in the flats to the south.
This intrepid wolves quickly crosses the flats, splashes across the river and then crosses the road between the parked cars. Then, on her way up the hill she suddenly wheels around and grabs a ground squirrel! Aha! With this tasty prize in her mouth she proudly heads north back to the den.
Shortly after this, three wolves materialize out of their hiding spots in the high grass below the trunks of some aspen. And somehow I miss a brief glimpse of pups - Laurie is in a slightly different spot and she saw three of them, two grays and one black.
As the light fades, I see the three adults move uphill and quickly out of sight.
We stick around talking a bit more, then I head east. Just past Soda Butte East I see the uncollared gray yearling cross the road from south to north. I stop at the next pullout and watch her a while.
Kathie pulls in and we commiserate a bit, as we both missed seeing the pups! But we are rewarded with the sight of a black bear climbing the hill below Trout Lake.
TODAY I SAW: 1 black bear, bison, butterflies, elk, a sage grouse with 8 chicks, a flicker, a robin, 6 wolves of the Lamar Canyon Pack (including the 06, 754, Middle Gray, 820, a black yearling and the uncollared gray yearling) and the spirit of Allison