|Map with location of the trail in relation to the northern range of YNP.|
We set up scopes alongside the others, then listened in on some conversations. No wolves had yet been seen or heard, and Rick McIntyre, the man who tracks their movements via radio collar, was not there. But even if the wolves had been present, we would probably not have seen them thanks to a thick blanket of fog that rolled in over the plateau. It wasn't long, however, before one of Rick's assistants got word that Rick was getting signals from the Little America region of Lamar Valley--an area east of Tower Junction where large glacial erratics dominate the landscape. We gathered our gear and joined the caravan.
|Lori and Lisa on the left with other wolf watcher at Blacktail Plateau|
We had a few delays on the way. Not far from the trailhead we came across two young mule deer bucks having at it about 50 feet from the road. The sun was not yet up and the lighting terrible, but I shot away anyhow. I had never seen bucks sparring before. The clatter of their antlers filled the dark morning as grass flew and pebbles clattered down the hillside.
|Mule deer sparring within sight of the road!|
While the thought of wolves pulled me back to the van, I just had to spend a little time with these two bucks, who were hopped up on testosterone and charging across the hillside.
Farther down the road, as the sun began to climb, Lisa spotted a black bear ambling along behind some pines. We stopped again, thrilled to see this beautiful beast.
As we made our way towards the Lamar Valley, the landscape opened up to show us the sunrise.
Next: Lamar, Gardiner, and back to Lamar.