Monday, October 22, 2012

Yellowstone: September, 2012 Chapter 4

Day 4: Sunday, Sept. 30th: 6:30 AM. This was the morning we had waited for; the one we had spent so much time and effort trying to experience. We arrived in the dark to Round Prairie, a few miles upstream of the Lamar Valley and home to the confluence of Pebble and Soda Butte Creeks. Immediately, we knew something was going on. Rick, already there, hurried over to our truck and told us that the entire Lamar Valley Pack was just 150 yards away, barely visible with binoculars, howling loudly in the dark. I leapt out of the car and clumsily readied my camera equipment. After lots of activity in minimal light, I was able to capture some noisy, low quality photos of several individuals wrestling and marking territory around their perimeter. 6:55 am: After a tremendous exchange of howling between the adults and the pups, a lone adult wolf leaves the others to bed down the pups stationed to the north. "Middle Gray", a female of 2.5 years, is a member of the Lamar Vally Pack. She is one of seven adults and daughter of the alpha female. We learned that this wolf often does the leg work for her mother, the Alpha Female, who has lost the use of her right hind leg. We watched her calmly calculate how she could avoid the growing crowd while still getting across the highway to the pups. She cautiously ran within 50 yards of us, crossed the creek and sprinted across the highway into the trees. The light was still low, but I managed to get a few photographs of her. As the other 6 adults took off on their hunting trip, Middle Gray returned about 40 minutes later, using the same route as when she crossed the first time and ran to join the others on their hunt. We could hardly contain our excitement. I will let the photos speak for themselves.

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