As we skirted around Lobo Hill, headed east from the Kelly Campus, the moon was rising to our right. The morning was much warmer than the day before. Luckily, a firm crust was still in place across Upper Meadow as we headed towards Turpin Ridge. Five days ago, Brian Welsh – a community member at the Kelly Campus on sabbatical – and his mother saw five wolves in the general area. A little investigating uncovered a recent elk carcass. Tracks and scavengers were all around. This morning, a little less than a week after this initial viewing, two graduate students, two faculty, two AmeriCorps interns and Brian headed back towards the ridge.

As we walked, flickers called in the distance, and the sun rose above Coyote Rock. Continuing our adventure, we came across coyote, fox and wolf tracks traversing the ridge. We recreated our best understanding of events leading to this elk’s demise based on signs and evidence in the area. It was a relatively old bull – teeth warn down and pedicels where antlers were dropped this winter.

A quick look at our watches initiated our travels back home. After all, this per-dawn adventure was for our own wanderings and wonderings – to connect us to this place. We needed to return to the Kelly Campus to create similar connections to nature for our visiting elementary students. Our two Graduate students went right into a team meeting to prepare for the departure of 40 students from Spring Creek Elementary, and the AmeriCorps interns had to prepare for the arrival of 50 Jackson Elementary 2nd graders. So goes another day in Ditch Creek – connecting ourselves and our students to the amazing wildness of this drainage.