I was talking with a client the other day about the virtues of being a beginner, and how wonderful it is to be in a position to learn new things every time. The downside of this can be in the doing; the painful process of finding out the mistakes you made earlier.
Early autumn in the alpine forests of the Bob/Glacier complex might be my favorite outdoor location, period. Fog and a good dusting of snow everywhere facilitates an incomplete view and mirrors the pockets hidden in the forested, rocky folds.
What makes a good hike might make a poor hunting destination, a thought which occurred to me two hours and 3k into my 3700′ climb yesterday morning. I was well into the snow line at that point, and looking at a profusion of fresh deer tracks going down from the pass, of which this early in the season I could only legally on the far side. Surprisingly, I ran into a group of half a dozen young mennonites a few hundred yards short of the pass. They were packing out, hadn’t seen anything in the days previous, and had been camped at the spot I was going to hunt. Not good. A few hours investigating the basin pictured above found a lot of human tracks, and no deer or elk sign whatsoever. Later in the day, after the ceiling has risen just enough to let in a bit more sun and turn the snow to rain, I cut tracks of and followed a lone deer, which was heading up towards the pass. Feeling defeated, I went home.
Not matching destination with conditions may have been my first issue, but the more serious one was not matching gear with activity. By 1 in the afternoon, my legs and feet were soaked and the pace of still hunting and glassing was not near enough to keep them warm. With little choice I stopped and built a fire, and struggled unsuccessfully to find a way to make my equipment work for the rest of the day. For backpacking in 35 and spitting rain I’m pretty dialed, but hunting is a work in progress. I needed even more clothes than I thought, a means to dry off more easily (wood stove in the mid), and waterproof boots. Hunting and the wet footed approach do not mix in temps below 50.
Oh well, it was a good hike. This learning curve is not promising to be an easy one.