CLIMBING TO MEET THE SUN
Darkness was beginning to break as the cold crisps breeze of this early fall morning gently fondled my face. It was invigorating and relaxing as I worked my way up the rig from the canyon below, so I could be on top before sunrise. I was so excited about spending the next 10 days in the mountains of the Apache National Forest of Arizona.
My backpack was filled for the day with my snacks and most of all my coffee tradition. Yes, I have a tradition I go through while packing in the mountains when I am hunting. I take a small burner and canister of propane to make my coffee, that I drip, one cup at a time. I would after some hours of moving through the mountains trying to spot black bear, take a break and set up what I call, my little mini camp. There is nothing like leaning against a rock or ponderosa pine with a fresh cup of hot coffee, taking in all the view that these mountains and the wild life have to offer. It just reminds me of how great God is when I see all that he has made and the wonderful way in which he made it.
The sun was climbing the mountains to my left as it was trying to break over the top and through the saddle-backs. I needed to make it to the highest point on the rig before the sun reached the top. I got there just in time. What a breath taking view as I stood there in the quite of the early morning getting ready to glass the country side that lay beneath me. A man can feel like a king on a mountain, as he sits on top the world he can see. At the same time he can be very humbled by the view, as well as being alone and having the privilege to be in such an awe inspiring place.
I found myself quit winded from the fast climb, because I wanted to be on top of the rig before the sun started peeking through the valleys and canyons. I had to work all summer getting myself in condition for this adventure and the hard work was paying off because I caught my wind quickly. The morning was beautiful but was not productive at all as I glassed all that morning looking for a black, cinnamon or blond image lumbering up and over the rocks and through the junipers and ponderosa pines.
It was now 10:00am and no luck, so I move back down into the canyon below me and decided to move along the bottom of the canyon hoping to find or spot a bear trying to bed up for the day. I stopped when I reached the bottom of the canyon and set up one of my little mini camps along a beautiful clear stream, to drink another cup of coffee. Just about the time I started to put my cup of coffee to my lips, five coues deer flew past me. Wow!!! What a sight to see deer moving at such speed over rocks and fallen timber, like an Olympic speed skater on ice making the final curve to finish the race. My first thought was a cougar! A cougar must have spooked them because I saw some cougar tracks as I was coming down the side of the canyon.
So I just sat there for a while to see if anything would come along. After about 20 minutes I decide to pack as quietly as I could and move in the direction the deer came from. I had my 300Wby and was using a 180gr Nosler Accubond and was hoping for some action. I had a cougar tag as well as a black bear tag.
I must have moved up that canyon for over and hour and covered some 300 to 350 yards, maybe 400 yards. All of a sudden I heard rocks bouncing down the canyon above me. My heart went up into my throat as I flick off the safety. I dared not move anything except my head and the muzzle of my rifle as quickly and quietly as possible. I looked above me, while having this image of a cat leaping in the air right on top of me. There he was, looking right down at me not 30 yards above me. A bear was staring right at me and had been watching me for a while. At first I thought, "boy, I am in a world of hurt if I shoot and he comes down on top of me much less if he is not dead when he gets here."
But relief came quick as I realized at that moment, the bear was only about two years old and weighed maybe 70-90 pounds. You know, it is amazing how intense a moment can be when you encounter a wild animal and you are alone and miles from anyone else. I just stood there and watched him get all excited and worked up over me being in his backyard. All of a sudden he took off and climbed up that side of that mountain like he was running on flat ground. Made me realize just how powerful and fast a bear really is and especially what a mature bear would be capable of doing.
I did not get a bear on this trip, but it was more than worth the effort and hunt. Just to be on an adventure and have this special time in the wilderness and experience not only the moment but also to even learn more about myself. There is nothing like climbing to meet the sun on a cold fall morning in the mountains, to begin a great day and wonderful adventure while stopping from time to time for a fresh cup of coffee
Here are some pictures from that day: