July 05, 2001

No sign of Explorer yet. Hare and Musk Oxen scarce too - wolves may be elsewhere in the thousand square miles considered their territory.

Mech and Medwid: After spending 4 and a half days of searching for wolf track/droppings we have begun to become pessimistic about finding Explorer. We have checked all the usual travel routes along the creek bottoms and other areas and have found only the sign of one wandering wolf that shows signs of not being familiar with the area. For example it passed within 1/8th to 1/4 mile of two intact musk ox carcasses without even checking them, as if it did not know they were there. We believe that if Explorer and her mate had been frequenting this area as they usually do at this time of the year, they would have found the carcasses and fed on them. However their territory covers a thousand square miles or more and maybe they are elsewhere in it. We have not seen any more hares than the one reported earlier, and not many more musk oxen so this may explain the wolves' absence. During this past winter the snow was particular deep and seems to have had a very detrimental effect on the prey. We have now found a total of 5 musk ox carcasses. Two of them were eaten by wolves in fall or winter but the other three died in late winter or spring and are still intact. Samples of the bone marrow fat on two of the three indicate that they starved to death.

This is an especially cold year. Last night almost broke the low temperature record for the day and it snowed in camp last night and this morning. Pockets of last winter's snow remain throughout the area with fresh snow lingering in the higher elevations.

There appears to be a greater than usual number of arctic foxes in the area and one has been a regular visitor to camp.

Despite the colder than normal temperatures the various arctic flowers bloom brightly in widely scattered patches. We discovered an outcropping with petrified wood from trees that lived some 50 million years ago when the climate was vastly warmer. Fossils of marine organisms abound here. Signing off......

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