All photos by
Tim Springer
Christine Baleshta

    We saw the Slough Creek pack today - seven members, three blacks and four grays. One black was limping. Another limping wolf. Monday, the alpha female of the Agates and today a member of the Slough Creek pack. Makes me remember how tough it is to be a wolf. So many things could happen: stepping on something, being injured during a hunt, a confrontation with another pack. I hope it's a small thing that will heal quickly. We reached Lamar Valley about 7:30 a.m. A beautiful day, but aside from the bison and elk in the prairies and hillsides, nothing going on. Rick was getting some signals, but no visuals. We drove past Slough Creek and through Little America to Tower. We looked for black bears and saw none. Back to the Lamar and staked out at Coyote and waited. Rick was getting more strong signals from the Slough Creek pack. We faced the hillsides north of the road and watched. And watched. We even heard a low, muffled howl, eerie and mystical. Finally, a black wolf appeared high on the ridge, but for only a minute or two before disappearing. Then a few more wolves appeared. Little by little more members of the Slough Creek pack appeared, high on the ridge to the east of two bison. Grey wolves lying in the sun with a black or two. We watched the wolves walk over and behind the ridge, hidden from our view, and then reappear again. It was hard to keep track of how many wolves there were or what color. When the Sloughs seemed to disappear for good behind the ridge, we wandered east to watch the grizzly sow and her coy. They were even closer today. They foraged in the fields near the Institute, not paying attention to anyone, barely lifting their heads. Even the cubs have silvery backs. Earlier today we watched another sow with three cubs of the year far away on one of the slopes across the river, east of Jasper Bench. They were so far away they were not much more than tiny dots, but bear cubs are entertaining animals at any distance. We hiked up the Cache Creek trail this afternoon and turned toward the river. Looking down from the top of the cliff we saw three otters on the bank, what appeared to be two kits and their mother. They scurried out of the river onto the sand where the young seemed to playfully harass their mother. Then suddenly they ran to the river and slipped under the water. Something must have spooked them. We heard crunching sounds, like something walking on tree branches. Something like a bear. But we never saw anything. On our way back we followed the trail down to the river. The mud near the water was covered with bison, elk and wolf tracks. Now we know one place where the Druids cross the Lamar.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

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Yellowstone Experiences 2004