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.

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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.

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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.

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Oh well, it was a good hike.  This learning curve is not promising to be an easy one.