goat.jpg I just got back from the toughest adventure I have ever experienced. My cousin Scott and I flew out of Homer on Sunday to Port Dick on the Gulf of Alaska. We hike .5 miles up 700 feet through the most brutal vegetation I have ever seen and it only took us 4 hours. Oh yeah, it rained the whole time. The next morning we woke up to 25 degrees, wrung out our clothes put them back on, and started hiking. We spotted our first black bear after 20 minutes as soon as we got into the tundra. We decided that we had to pass on the nicest bear I have ever seen because we couldn't imagine hauling out a goat and a bear.
We continued up to the top of the ridge and spotted a Goat a mile away on the next mountain. We decided that the only way to get to him was to come up from the bottom. We hiked toward him for 2 and a half hours including lowering our pack and sliding down into a creek bottom. We approached the goat from behind a hill across the valley and he just stayed put as we crested the hill 435 yards away and 22 degrees uphill. I shot him and he stumbled down the hill 50 feet where he stopped and laid down before he died and rolled down the hill towards us. He finally stopped 290 yards from us.
We hiked up to him and got to work getting him caped out and boned. A bear followed us to the kill and circled us at about 25 yards. We were hollering at him and put a little pepper spray in the air to get him to back off a bit. He watched us from about 100 yards. We loaded up our packs and started walking with 100 pound loads. We had to find a new route out the valley that we were in.
As we started up the ridge after hiking 2 hours with our heavy packs and seeing 5 bears the wind kicked up to 50 or 60 mph and the rain started coming. We knew that we wouldn't make it back to camp and decided to put up my 2 man tent and hunker down for the night. We used our packs full of meat to guy out the tent. The wind drove the rain right through the single walled tent and by midnight our down bags were totally soaked. The wind was swirling in our valley and would flatten the tent from one direction and then the other 10 seconds later.
The next morning everything we had with us was soaked and my pack had to be 120 pounds with all the water and it was still blowing like crazy. Gusts to 80 mph? As we crested the ridge Scott was knocked over by a gust. As we headed for camp we veer a little too far left and discovered that we were 150 feet below camp and at least 1 ridge away. We decided to keep heading down to sea level with the goat. We hiked right down a creek because the vegetation on both sides was so slick. It eventually we left the creek and headed over a ridge and start down the steep stuff. We rappelled down from 400 feet 40 feet at a time. We would lower our packs and then simul rap using trees for anchors. We would pull our rope and drag it to the next tree and keep on going. We finally made it down to sea level 26 hours after I pulled the trigger and 7 hours after leaving our soggy tent.
We set up my 6 man tent at sea level and had dry sleeping bags. We dried out for the evening and dreaded going back up the next day to pack out our high camp. It was still raining and gusting to 50mph. On Wed we wrung out our clothes and headed back up the mountain with light packs. The going was good and we climbed an 80 degree slope by climbing on mossy roots. We made it to camp with great route finding (probably luck) in an hour and a half. The wind had broken a pole on my tent at high camp. As we were getting packed up it started to hail and blow again. We headed back to sea level with light 60 pound packs we were able to get further down before we had to rappel the last 300 feet. Our last rappel landed us in knee deep salt water, we were so wet that it didnít even phase us; it was only a little colder than the rest of us. We called the pilot to discover that they could see 50 feet in Homer and couldnít come get us until the next morning. We went in the tent and didnít get out for 18 hours until it was time to call the pilot in the morning.
We got picked up in a 20 mph wind in the rain on Thursday morning. This was by far the craziest conditions I have ever been in and the hardest thing I have ever done. It truly made packing my caribou a mile down a mountain last month feel like a walk in the park.