Shortly after entering the Park, we almost run into a couple of cow elk on the road. I don't know whether they were standing there or jumped onto the road - I was watching two young bulls sparring on the south side of the road when suddenly the cows appeared in front of the car. Tim slowed and stopped in time, but one poor, startled cow stumbled in her scrambling and fell to her knees. She recovered quickly, but I'll always have that vision in my mind of this graceful creature struggling to rise to her feet.
    The Slough Creek Pack is in the Druids' old rendezvous site. I counted 14 wolves spread out over the area. A gray is missing. These wolves are descendants of three packs - the original Crystal Creek Pack, the Rose Creek and the Mollies. 490M, the alpha male is a Mollie with his brother 489M. The old alpha female, who was never collared, was a Druid and so the genetic makeup of the Yellowstone wolves is complicated.
    489M is "Uncle Bubba" according to two friends. He has a very comfortable position in the pack, always a place at the table, very capable (he has taken down an elk by himself). 377M is the beta wolf, also very capable. There is a beta female, a gray wolf, no number that I recall.
    Fall is a quiet time in Yellowstone, in many ways. The subtle preparation for winter is obvious to those who look. Bears start moving toward their winter dens and are less visible. Elk begin to migrate down from the hills into the valleys where it is warmer for winter grazing. The wolves follow them. The aspen and cottonwoods change color and the entire Park glows bright yellow and gold. The ground squirrels are absent, having already dug underground for their nine-month hibernation. Changes are marked as much by what is not seen as what is seen.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

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Yellowstone Experiences 2006