Tod's Blog

Adventures with family & friends and other things I'm passionate about…

You’d Think We’d Know Better

Posted by todblog on October 21, 2012

October 14, 2012

My son Jacob frequently talks about having a bucket list. It’s a list of things one wants to do before “kicking-the-bucket” (dying). I don’t have one. If I did have one, I could scratch one item off that list.

It started about a year ago. A couple of friends and I got to thinking about going bow hunting for elk in some remote back country for a week. Of course thinking about it a year prior and looking at Google Earth from a soft ergonomic desk chair makes everything seem like a piece of cake. As the months passed by and it got closer to committing to buying the elk tag, I began to wonder if I was cut-out for this trip. I started thinking about the TV show- “I Shouldn’t Be Alive” and the real-life accounts of people who had close encounters with death only to survive by using their dull Leatherman knife and eating worms.

Nah, not me, I wasn’t ready for TV. I was gonna be smarter than that. I was going with some experienced partners. Andy, my college house mate was involved with Search & Rescue in high school and after graduating from Oregon State University, he spent a lot of time in third world countries conducting geophysical surveys in some rugged remote terrain. To him, the outdoors wasn’t something to fear, it was there to explore and conquer. Leo, the other suspect, is also no stranger to remote back country life and has put on a lot of miles backpacking in the Sierras and other remote destinations. I was in good company with nothing to fear, except that I found myself breathing hard after tying my shoe laces (Note to self: ditch the laces and get velcro straps). Luckily I had time to get in shape and I started working out several months before our trip (watching the Outdoor Channel while on the tread mill and/or lifting weights). I was determined to get fit (or close to fit) for the upcoming “death march” to elk camp.

Gearing up was also a challenge as I needed to find backpacking gear for this trip. Andy and Leo bailed me out by bringing extra gear for me to use. I had the basic stuff like sleeping bag, pad, tent, stove, mess kit, water purifier, canteen, etc. What I lacked was a good backpack. Not too big and not too small. The big packs had a tendency to want more stuff in ’em. For food, we needed to pack in seven days worth of meals. We got two cases of assorted Mountain House dehydrated meals, trail mix, protein bars, oatmeal, coffee, jerky, spices, and olive oil. The Mountain House dinners were excellent and a far cry from what they used to be like. It was easy to make (add boiling water to foil pouch, seal and wait 9 minutes) and they tasted great. Water was not going to be an issue since our campsite was next to a natural spring. This would be huge as a nearby water source meant ample water for drinking, cooking, dishes, and showers.

As much as we tried to minimize the weight of our packs, it was a difficult thing to do as we had food for seven days, clothes, camping and hunting gear. Lifting the fully loaded pack off the ground I said, “this is stupid” and I put it back down. Nobody felt sorry for me because my pack was the lightest. You see, I made a scouting trip a few weeks earlier and stashed some of my gear at the campsite with the help of some friends. I placed my things in a couple of dry bags and hoisted them up in a tree. That reduced my load for the final walk in but, in the back of my mind I wondered and hoped that my gear would still be there waiting for my return. Would it be found by other people or trashed by bears who detected food morsels in the bags? Leaving my gear in that tree also meant I was now committed to this backpack bow hunting trip.

After making final preparations and saying our good-byes, we hit the trail and began our hike up to elk camp. What took me 2.5 hours a couple of weeks ago, now found me taking just under 5 hours. At 3/4 of the way up we began to physically “run out of gas” and had to take breaks every 50 yards or so due to the incline, the rising temperature from the mid-morning sun, and just plain low energy reserves. Once we got to camp, it was a tremendous relief as we dropped our packs one last time. Andy, whose pack looked like it had a kitchen sink in it said, “That was a hump by anyone’s standard”. Nobody could argue that. What we pondered with each backpacking step was that our cumulative ages totaled 163 years- you would think we’d know better. Apparently not.

About an hour later, we decided to make camp and got settled into our new home. Little did I know that day would be the kickoff for a week of bow hunting boot camp- waking early, hiking up and down steep hillsides and crawling through dark timber thickets in pursuit of elk. We hiked our butts off covering a lot of ground and learning new areas each day. The early evening sunsets were breathtakingly awesome to behold as we lounged around a camp stove enjoying our gourmet dehydrated chow. After recapping the day’s events and making plans for the next one, we found ourselves crawling off to our toasty warm sleeping bags and “sawing logs” by 8pm-ish. That’s way earlier than I’m used to sleeping but, that and ibuprofen and chondritin was just what the doctor ordered. By the end of the week, I poked a new hole in my leather belt to take up the slack from losing almost 10 pounds. It actually felt great.

As for the hunt, we all saw and had opportunity at elk but, Leo is the only one who convinced an elk to come home with him. Congratulations Leo!


One Response to “You’d Think We’d Know Better”

  1. Uncle Howard said

    Todd: You indeed have unique life, like no other I know. What’s important is that you enjoy this life stile


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