Today was a short one in the park, home by 11 a.m., but filled with the kind of activity I had been dreaming of for months – the Lamar Canyons came home and decided to come join us for a visit.
Hoping for some type of photo op, I was in the park by 6 a.m. and in Lamar before 7 because there was no traffic on the road. The morning was cold and felt a little hazy but I am not sure it was. Rick had signals on the Lamars but had not been able to pin them down when I arrived. They were somewhere out there.
And then Lizzie reported some howling on the west side of the ledge trail. So, I went to the east side to see if they came that way. Waited forever but nothing. And then I heard that they had howled some more but it wasn’t audible at my location. So, I went west a little and then decided, no, they were going east. Got back just in time to see some big horns fleeing for their lives. Could not see the wolves but the way the big horns ran down under the ledge trail and huddled together, up tight against the rocks, made me certain that the Lamars were there. And then three rams were starring in that direction from ram hill and I eventually guessed that they had already dropped down into the den hill. So, was driving back and forth, hoping for a glimpse before they disappeared into their hill.
And, then Dan reported that the wolves were being seen right back where I had been waiting. Now, it has been a long time since the Lamars have come anywhere near us, let alone down the front of the hill near Hitching Post and so I did not expect to see them for long. Laurie let me see 926 standing on the hill, next to a tree and she looked so beautiful, blended in with the landscape. A mad rush to get my camera and tripod out, leaving my hatch open, which resulted in a dead battery when all of the excitement was done.
And then Laurie said that 926 was coming down the hill but I could not see her as she blended in. But, there she was coming down to see us. Except that a man was down the road and so she went back up and did a detour, which was too bad because he cost us some good photos of her. She made her way across the road with no problem and then went behind the rolling hills where we suddenly heard some upset coyotes carrying on. I thought that perhaps there was a carcass there but evidently not.
Before long Twin came down the hill, though I could not see him either. He came down and decided to sit and howl for awhile, because of the guy in the road. Rick went and retrieved the wayward photographer and Twin sat there howling for the longest time. Mottled howled above him and I heard a howl to the east. And then Twin came right on down, not far from us at all. Far enough but considering the Twin dots we have been looking at, this was a treat.
And, as Twin passed by, 926 came into view and for a moment they stopped and looked at one another. And then the each went their separate ways. I can’t figure these two out – maybe they are still trying to figure out each other.
Meanwhile, we had at least three coyotes yipping it up behind us.
Then 926 went closer to the road and proceeded to call the others down. It was time for the Lamar Canyons to hit the road.
Dark Black made it down but he went the long way in order to avoid us. He is getting to be a brave boy! Now we had seen all but Little T and I was beginning to get worried about her. And then Twin came out to join his mate where she had been standing and howling. They had a brief greet and she decided to go the way he had come. Twin followed begrudgingly. He is moving slow and at times limping on his right front foot. Nothing bad but he is an older wolf and seems to have a few aches and pains. Rick told me that a vet that was here the day Twin rolled down the hill thought that he had just stumbled and lost his balance and nothing more, so we aren’t terrible worried about that any more.
I want to say a few words about 926’s mange – as you can see, she still has some bald spots. Her belly has been bald for months now, with the skin looking like leather – black leather. I am guessing that she was frost bitten and probably endured a lot of pain in the process. We are lucky she has survived but I am beginning to wonder if her fur will grow back in those spots. Most likely, from what I have read, she must have gotten wet when it was really cold. She does have new fur on other parts of her body and so is showing signs of recovering. And, she has definitely gained weight, but does not look pregnant and neither does Little T. The two would have a little more than a month to go so not time to worry yet.
The wolves disappeared behind the rolling hills and so I went a short ways out to look and was relieved to see Little T. She must have been the east howler and evidently snuck across the road while we weren’t looking. Now, everyone was there but Mottled and he was still howling on the hill.
The wolves went up on the bank in front of Twin there and continued to the south, leaving Mottled behind.
There they go! And Mottled was still howling.
Well, Mottled is getting a little smart these days because he finally made his way across the road, without no one seeing him, and I spotted the boy just as he rounded the trail to go out of sight! That was a special moment, knowing that they were all together and heading out for their next meal. And, a good time to go home.
I know that the Prospects were seen today and were still chasing the Junction pup some but not connecting. And, they had another carcass. I do think that the Junctions also came into view and so it was a good day for wolf watchers.
Hope you enjoyed these moments with the Lamar Canyon pack.