More good wolf watching today. Although we saw the Agates very briefly, racing around the slopes of Antelope Creek chasing a couple of Slough Creek wolves, they were so far away they appeared as black lines on a landscape so we did not stay long. In Little America it seemed that we found the two Slough wolves running away from the Agate Wolves. From the Slough Creek parking lot we were able to watch six other black wolves from the pack at the top of Crystal Creek. There was lots of beautiful howling. The wolves lifted their heads, all facing west, noses tilted in the air. Sometimes all that could be seen was their ears. Beautiful singing. It seemed like they were looking for someone, or waiting for someone - maybe the two Slough Creek wolves chased by the Agates.
   In Hayden Valley No. 540F, the alpha female, of the Hayden Pack was tucked away with two subordinate wolves in some trees across the Yellowstone River. We cannot get over how white she is - and we are grateful, because the pack would be difficult to find otherwise, their grey coats fading into the yellowing grass and sage. It was almost noon and the wolves were mostly bedded down, getting up only once in a while to circle and then lie down again. We left them to sleep while we tried a new hiking trail.
   The Ribbon Lake Trail runs from Artists Point parking area through meadows and forest adjacent to Hayden Valley. There were lots of recent wolf tracks and some bear sign. We could see a silver grizzly grazing on a far hillside across the road. Approaching a very large meadow Tim spotted a chocolate brown lump rising out of the tall golden grasses. It looked like it could be a bison. Eventually it lifted its head solving the mystery - a grizzly. Although we were downwind, we backed into the trees away from the trail. It wasn't until we were on the other side of the meadow that the bear realized we were there and what we were. He stood on his hind legs to sniff the air and peered around. He did not like the message and loped into the trees.
   We continued down the trail and then deciding it was too late to finish the loop, turned back, singing all the way. We saw gray jays and Clark's Nutcrackers. The bear was gone on the return trip and we were both relieved. On our way back up the trail we watched harrier hawks in a mating dance. They dove and twirled in the sky flying upside down.
   Returning around 5:30 p.m., we found the white alpha female still bedded down with a subordinate. It seemed like they hadn't moved at all and weren't going to. We were about to leave when we heard a faint howl in the distance. The white female picked up her head and her ears perked up. The howl came again and she lifted her head answering. Out of the trees appeared three more wolves, a a mix of light and dark grey. The subordinate wolves are much darker than I remember. It could be their winter coats. They were all very excited, wagging tails and licking faces. Quickly all five started traveling south along the river and we raced to the next turnout to watch. We followed the Hayden Pack as they continued south along the Yellowstone River until we couldn't see them in the fading dusk light.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

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Yellowstone Experiences 2006