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Thread: Upward, into the snow

  1. #1
    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Default Upward, into the snow

    Tomorrow's the day.
    My gear has been checked and rechecked, and my pack is packed but I'll probably tear it down again tonight just to be sure (don't want to be boiling socks again). I was surprised to be under 50lbs with my bow while not taking any shortcuts on gear, and for a cold weather hunt too.

    So it's time to climb up into the gathering snow and log yet another episode in my quest to take a mature Dall ram. I had hoped the weather of the past couple of weeks would hold just a bit longer...but it was not to be. After all, it is nearly October.

    No matter. While I'm not as physically stout as I'd like to be, I feel good. (I broke my ankle last year and have not quite fully recovered. That put the damper on my aerobic training.) Good news is I can walk with a heavy pack so long as I'm careful where I put my feet on rough ground. My plan is to follow the sage advice of an AOD member: I'll walk slow and drink a lot of water.

    Mentally, I'm more prepared and I've got far better gear than in hunts past. I will be warm and dry (for the most part).

    I know my chosen spot pretty well. I have hunted it before. There are rams in that valley. It's up to me to do the work, stay tough, and hunt hard (and smart).

    All I ask for is a good stalk and a clean release. (and maybe a bit better visibility)

    Best of luck to my fellow DS-140 tag holders. See you all in a week (or maybe less;-)
    If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today

  2. #2
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    O yeah is it ever going to be cold. We hiked in our base camp last saturday so the heavy hauling is done and in nice weather to. Forecast is supposed to be cold and wet so definatly glad I packed in my carharts.

  3. #3
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Well, I hope you guys are enjoying unexpectedly warm weather. I just walked out to my truck and was surprised by low 50 degree temperatures and some patches of blue sky. I was actually thinking of what a nice opening day it was for DS140 permit holders. I've awoken to a foot of snow on this hunt, so this has got to be better. Good luck to you.

  4. #4

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    This hunt is totally dependant on weather.....good luck out there. Either way you get to hunt sheep in the Chugach Mtns. of Alaska....pretty awesome in my book.

  5. #5
    Premium Member Wyo2AK's Avatar
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    Hope you're having a great hunt, Erik. Been thinking about your hunt and wondering where you are up there. Wishing you the best of luck. I'm sure you're just about as prepared as you can be. Can't wait to hear all about it over a beer sometime when you get back. I'm out of town the 8th through the 12th, so will get in touch with you after that.
    Pursue happiness with diligence.

  6. #6
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    hope to hear some results when you come down! bet it is downright balmy up there, though probably howling something fierce for archery.

    do tell.

  7. #7
    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    I got back late last night.

    Got a late-ish start Thursday, and after a 9 bike ride, a river crossing and clambering up along a pretty good trail through 1,500 vertical feet of alder thickets and devil's club, I made camp on a small, not quite flat bench. I had a nice view of the lake and Bold Peak.

    It rained most of the night but my little Mountain Hardware tent did fine. Next day, Friday, the rain countinued as I climbed up the remaining 1,500 feet to the hanging valley I would hunt in. I gained the mouth of the valley around 2pm and saw a huge black bear on the far (west) side of the valley.

    I also saw two decent fullcurl rams on the slope above me but they saw me first, so they were safe. I kept pushing into this valley to make my camping spot; a nice smooth flat spot nestled between 3 big boulders, and right next to a spring.

    I got to this spot around 5pm and pitched my tent just as the wind picked up and light rain turned to snow. I got camp set up and pulled put my gear--everything was wet. Not soaked but wet-ish. Not that big of a deal since everything was synthetic or fleece. My sleeping bag was clammy but warm.

    So far so good. The plan is to be up at first light and glass as a few inches of early snow won't keep the rams from feeding.

    I don't bother to heat water for supper; a couple of snickers, some cheese, a handful of tylenol and a litre of water, and I settle into my bag. The wind is buffeting the tent pretty good but nothing extreme. At 2100 a gust flattened the tent. I got up put my boots on and re-erected the tent. I rolled some big rocks into position and tied off my guy lines to them. I was out for about 20 minutes and had to strip to shake the wet snow out of my clothes so as not to bring all the wetness into the tent with me. DOH! moment--should've worn my jacket.

    At around 0200 it happened again. This time I just did what mountaineers do in high winds--left the tent collapsed so it didn't come apart. Sleeping in a collapsed tent in near-hurricane force winds does not make for a good time or much sleep.

    I awoke at 0500 with the weight of 2-3 inches of wet snow on me so I sat up and pushed it off. Good news is the wind had abated mostly. I actually slept at this point, achy hips not withstanding. I got up at 0900 to assess the damage. I have to say getting dressed under a wet blanket is neither easy or fun.

    Anyway I crawled out of the tent and into some pretty heavy snow. The winds were back up and gusting to 40 or 50 mph. I also realize my right ankle is not right. This is the one I broke last year and while it bothered me a little on the hike and climb in I was able to compensate by careful foot placement; which is fairly easy to control when you're going up. My concern was the decent. Could I keep my dinged peg from turning and being seriously reinjured? I was having doubts. I could still hunt and I could build a windbreak wall for the tent to deal with the wind, but if I killed a sheep could I haul it down the mountain?

    I decided I couldn't and at that point it became clear that to stay any longer was an exercise in futility. So I broke camp and as one final insult the wind picked up my tent and carried it off...about a mile. It was like a scene from a movie; tent tumbles 300 yards and stops until I get about 10 feet away when the wind carries it several hundred yards further. It eventually came to rest in some rocks at the foot of a pass. If it slipped again it was gone forever. My luck held and I got it back and trudged back to my pack.

    I got everything stuffed and cinched, shouldered my pack at 1215. I took one last look around, swallowed my pride and started down. The alders sucked as usual but did provide lots of handholds. I made it to the river at dusk and what was a shin-deep crossing on the way in was mid-thigh on the way out. The last 9 miles of smooth trail was a 9 mile limp. I tried riding the bike but the derailerbroke and the bike was stuck in high gear. I had to push along the flats and uphill but could coast the downhills. My ankle is swollen and pretty stiff but I made it back to my truck at 2130 and home about an hour later.

    So all in all, a pretty average Alaska hunting trip.
    If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today

  8. #8

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    From your description I would guess that I hunted the same area as you when I had that permit....twice. I bent tent poles twice and let my tent go flat the second time.

    At least you got out.....those late season sheep hunts are a crap shoot.

  9. #9
    Premium Member denalihunter's Avatar
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    Erik! Great story! Even with the weather, at least you got out and gave it a try. I think you made a good choice with that lame peg of yours. Hopefully it will be in good shape next season when you are hunting the TMA. I plan to be there since I can finally put in for the draw again!
    Claude
    Experience Real Alaska! www.alpinecreeklodge.com

  10. #10
    Member kylemac's Avatar
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    Erik,
    Good story – I think humbling experiences like that keep us real.
    Great close -- “a pretty average Alaska hunting trip”
    Thanks for sharing.
    Regards.

  11. #11
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    Smile

    Congrats on the effort. I had similar experiences this year sheep hunting minus the snow. Rain, fog and alder were on the menu. Nobody but a sheep hunter could understand why I have pictures of sheep but no sheep. They dont consider approaching darkness, alder patches, changing weather, fog, hypothermia, etc. Quite an adventure anyway which is part of the lure of sheep hunting. Next time, different weather different story. Fun anyway right?
    “I come home with an honestly earned feeling that something good has taken place. It makes no difference whether I got anything, it has to do with how the day was spent. “ Fred Bear

  12. #12
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    Smart move to get out when you could. Hopefully next year you'll find some sheep.
    I'd agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

  13. #13
    Member AK NIMROD's Avatar
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    great account of your average Alaska hunt. the tent i bought many years ago (82) was decided because it was used for expeditions and would stay together in 100 + mph winds . heavy (9.5) but when i was 30-40 it was not problem. at 61 i would have younger guy carry it at least part of it. (if i ever do a mountain hunt again) highest winds i recall were in PWS on an Oct goat hunt guess gusts 70+ ,Northface VE-24 is the model.
    Glad you made it down and home safe and sound.
    RETIRED U.S.A.F. CAPT.; LIFETIME MEMBER NRA; LIFETIME MEMBER ALASKA BOWHUNTER ASSOC.
    MASTER BOWHUNTER EDUCATION INSTRUCTOR; MEMBER UNITED BLOOD TRACKERS; POPE & YOUNG MEASURER

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    Nightmare glad you made it back. maybe youll get another chance

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    Default heart breaker

    To go that far just to turn around. Tough choice. Good decision. Golly, if the WX had been a bit different maybe you stood a chance. Glad you tried and happier you made it out in one piece.
    ARR

  16. #16
    Member Marc Taylor's Avatar
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    Dude... Sorry to hear about your busted effort. Good on you for knowing when to say when.
    There's always "next time"! Yay!

    Taylor

  17. #17
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    Good for u to turn back when u still could man!!!! It takes a lot to swallow pride some times but it got u home safe!!!!!

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Akhardwater View Post
    Forecast is supposed to be cold and wet so definatly glad I packed in my carharts.
    How did those "carharts" work out for you? I can't imagine.
    "96% of all Internet Quotes are suspect and the remaining 4% are fiction."
    ~~Abraham Lincoln~~

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