We stood together on the river bar at 2500’ watching as the two Super Cubs shrank into the horizon. We had planned and packed for this trip scrupulously; the flight service allowed only fifty pounds of gear per person and we intended to pack enough food to stay a total of 18 days if that’s what it took. We ultimately ended up with forty-three pounds of food, which left us only fifty-seven pounds of weight left to accommodate our packs, shelter, sleeping gear, and cooking equipment.
If ever a trip required paring our gear down to the essentials, this was it! Bad weather in another hunting area delayed our flight service some, and we didn’t arrive on the gravel bar until nearly 4pm on August 9th. Luke and I quickly reorganized our gear, selecting enough food for 7 days of hunting before caching the remainder at the airstrip inside our bear fence. It was after 5pm when we finally started hiking.
After hiking for about two hours through thick brush along the creek drainage, we covered about 3 miles before the creek necked down to a canyon. Luke spotted a sandy "beach" along the water just below the canyon, and we opted to set up camp for our first night out.
I had previously accompanied Luke on several Dall sheep hunts, one of which was successful, but weather and fate had never cooperated to allow me a chance at a ram of my own. With the opening day of the season approaching and a coveted sheep tag in my pocket, I was ready to hunt!
The next two days were spent gaining altitude to get above the brush and hiking farther back into the drainage. We made a more permanent camp on the third night at 5800', on a flat ridge line that miraculously had a trickle of water nearby.
Glassing that evening, we spotted rams that looked promising several bowls further back and about two miles further away, and we made plans to move that direction the following morning, day four of our hunt.
We planned to only be away for the day, but took supplies to bivy out if necessary, as is our habit. Our bivy supplies included a lightweight shelter, insulated "puffy" coats and pants, our short inflatable pads (which fold into chairs for glassing), and one down quilt. I packed enough food for us to comfortably stay one night away from the tent: one freeze dried entree each and enough snacks for two days. Later I would wish I had brought more.