Although I say the folk I’m with in Yellowstone know when and where to look for the wolves, it’s still far from easy to find them – not just because of a wolf’s ability to remain hidden – but because of the weather systems out here in winter.
It is obviously very cold here, with temperatures averaging -13 degrees Celsius throughout winter, at an altitude of approx. 6278 feet above sea level, so once the wind picks up (and believe me, it picks up!!) the temperature suddenly feels a whole lot colder, and that wind can bite even with numerous warm and windproof layers on, head to toe! You stand there staring down your telescope, trying to find a needle in a hay stack (i.e. a wolf on a mountain side) and you are hit with blisteringly cold winds and horizontal snow blizzards – it’s great!! (she says with a grin!!).
Of course, us humans have to bring equipment with us to endure these harsh unforgiving conditions, while the wolves (and the rest of the wildlife) are fully adapted to not only survive, but to thrive out here. Obviously as mentioned in previous posts (see: “Canid get enough of canids”) wolves have two layers of fur, their dense warm undercoat for insulation and their course outer coat for water and wind protection! They don’t need a fancy hi-tech ski coat! Their paws are webbed, with thick fur, and so act like insulated snow shoes (and obviously webbed feet are great for swimming too!). Their legs are long and their chests are slim and deep – both of these adaptations allow wolves to efficiently move through deep snow, which is needed when hunting prey or indeed trying to evade chase from other wolf packs! Now, I may have mentioned these adaptations before, BUT you cannot fully appreciate the physical complexity of wolves until you see them in the wild – it is truly amazing!