Monday, October 31, 2011

A'Hunting, We Are Done

...with no furry animal accompanying us home. The Brick and Daughter #2 got shots at a gawky young buck, who just stood there while they were shooting at him. (Saying "Duh," according to D#2.) And a smarter, much larger buck, who took off during the shooting, then surprised the pop out of D#2, who'd tracked him around the hill, and expected him to keep going. She couldn't get a shot off again before he'd loped off.
    Ah well. They were shooting at 500 yards, which is Really Far.
We had a strange mix of environments. The first half of the week was dry and almost warm. (Didn't see a thing, except for two moose, a fox and a boatload of chipmunks.) The second part of the week began with a two-foot fall of snow and temperatures that plunged. Saw more animals, particularly toward the end of the week -- but still not at many as hoped for.  We saw few animals hanging in camps, and the hunters we talked to had also seen few animals, except for the very last day or two. Where did they go -- Florida??
    And no elk. Not one. (According to D#2, they have cloaking devices, a la Star Trek.)

Top that off with waking up to see your breath pluming out in a cloud in the camper. (Temps ranged from -12 to a high of 26, until almost the last day.) The first cup of coffee suddenly becomes necessary for fighting off frostbite, and wet boots (not to mention a wet sleeping bag, which I had nearly all week) become a Big Problem.
    It's either mud or snow -- or mud underneath the snow. An outfitter's tent, which the Brick had offered to bring out for a fellow worker, was found crushed and useless, the broken tent poles poking up through the fabric. We crashed through the ruts, and slid up steep trails, the mud on the wheels competing with the mud on the roads. More often than not, the Jeep needed to get chained up to make it up. (Not hills, for those of you further back east -- mountains. We camped at 8000 ft, and most of the hunting went as high as 10,200 ft. What are termed "mountains" back east are speed bumps, Colorado-style.)
    Then the denoument -- the Jeep broke down while we were there. Thankfully, the Brick and D#2 were able to nurse it to Silverthorne to have the left front axle replaced. ($450 and change.) It still needs the front drive shaft, which will enable four-wheel drive again. (At least another $350, plus whatever it costs to get it installed.)

But that doesn't mention what we did enjoy about the trip: being together, and talking as much as we wanted. Incredible scenery, with often a wall of fog that heralded the day and gradually faded out of the valley as the mountains sharpened in detail. No business worries for any of us -- and time to study and make plans.
    I loved that.

   I also loved going to the hot springs (Hot Sulphur Springs resort was on our way home). Taking that first luxurious hot shower, and sleeping in my own bed. Waking up to the smell of hot coffee (which I didn't have to boil in a greasy pan) and Charley le chien bouncing around. Reading the paper and chatting to the Brick nearby, toes warm. Being back online.
   All good things, too.

The 'waterfall' pool was incredible at the Hot Sulphur Springs resort, with a dozen-plus more pools to choose from. Try it with a snowbank nearby, and your nose wrinkling in the cold air...aaahhh.

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