I have in mind a place “Out There”, that I would like to go check-out .. A place no more than a dozen miles in from a relatively accessible trailhead, with not that extreme of an elevation gain, nor so treacherous, as to be un-doable as a Solo Trek – ‘alone’ in The Wilderness.I am thinking about doing this Outing over a 7 to 10 day period, depending on the weather, and other variables that might limit or prolong the outing.
The long-range weather forecasts look favorable, and both Aerial and Topographic Maps of the area are readily available, so that is good.
I will be taking 3 ‘bags’ with me.
1. USGI MOLLE II Rucksack, on MOLLE II Frame.
2. 3-day MOLLE “Assault Pack
3. Small “Basics/Trekking/Survival” day-pack
The Main Ruck will be the foundation for All the Gear and Provisions I will be loading In.
- The lower ‘closed’ section will hold the MSS Black Sleeping bag, and the Goretex Bivi bag, along with the Main Shelter Tarp (10X12 Etowah) and Auxiliary/Ground Tarp (6X8 Brown “Poly-Tarp”), and Ropes/stakes/etc., and the Hammock, with Ridge Line And Tree-Straps attached and a Woobie, used as an under quilt.
- The Upper half, will hold my Clothing, Cooking Gear, and Food, and just about everything else.
- Under the top flap will be my Pack Cover, and Poncho/Rain-Gear
I will take along my 24Watt foldable Solar Panel, 20k mAh battery backup, my Kindle-1 reader, and Emergency Backup Cellphone.
Also, small Hanging “LED” Lantern, Candle Lantern (with extra candles), and Flashlight
* SpyderCo Tenacious, clipped inside “Strong-side” Front pocket …
* Swiss Army “One Handed Trekker” , in weak-side Front Pocket
* Small Gerber Hatchet
* ESEE-6 Knife
* Gerber KuKrI
* Small Saw
* Small Shovel
* SS MessKit – with SPORK, pot-grabber etc
* Metal Cup
* “MSR “Multi Fuel” Burner” and Fuel?
* 10X12 Etowah Tarp
* 6X8 ‘secondary/ground’ Tarp
* Tree Straps and Ridge-line
* Hammock with light UnderQuilt
* Lines and Stakes
* GorTex Bivi Bag
* Black MSS Bag
* Puffy Top and Pants +Over Socks and Beanie
* Stuff Sack filled with extra clothes or ‘duff’ for Pillow
* Water Bag/Bottle
* Sawyer ‘mini’ water Filter with Bag, Syringe and straw
Miscellaneous Emergence and Survival related items, in small “Kit” bag
OK .. On to The Outing
Heading Out (Day 1)
My Wife takes me up to The Trailhead – We walk around, munching Huckleberries and Salmonberries, and enjoying the Clean morning air.
The Dew has mostly ‘burned off’, and it is time to head out.
I Hoist my pack, and get everything cinched up, to my liking, and I snag a Kiss, and I am On My Way.
After about a half mile I take a short rest – to ‘catch my breath’ and re-adjust my Pack – I take a good chug of water, and then Back On The Trail.
The route carries me along a ridge-top for another couple miles, to where the “Secret Cut-off” is.
The first hundred yards or so, below the cut-off, is Very Brushy (I am glad I waited till the dew burned off), and then it becomes your typical Elk Trail – Over and Under and Around and Through the varied terrain .. Dropping down into the Valley below.
It is rough going, but takes no more than a half hour to reach the Valley Floor and the River.
Now, I head Up-River along the beautiful flatland adjacent to the River, then back into the wooded area, Bush-whacking along another Elk Trail for another mile or so, till I abruptly come upon an open area with an ancient Cabin .. And 2 kinda stunted Apple Trees. (Someone had encamped/lived here for many moons)
I removed my pack, and explored this unexpected find.
I take advantage of this stop to eat half of one of the “Roast-Beef, Cheese and Sprouts” Sammiches I have carried along, for the first day’s nourishment, and brew up a quick cup of Pine-needle Tea. (I sweeten my tea with Fireweed Pith)
Unfortunately, there are no apples on the trees, But, the Salmon berries and Thimble Berries are abundant, so I enjoy this added treat, along with my Sammich and tea.
After resting up, and “refueling”, I again “Load Up”, and head on Up the valley, the ‘trail going higher and higher out of the valley, to where it comes upon a Suspension Bridge, spanning the valley and crossing the river.
Across the bridge, the ‘trail’ heads on South, but I descend again down to the Valley floor, and for about a half mile I Bushwhack my way through the heavy brush and fallen timber, till I come across another Elk Trail, heading the right direction ..
*whew* .. Much Easier Going.
About another hour on the Elk Trail – roughly paralleling the river, I come to the area I have been considering.
The area is heavily wooded, and pretty Brushy, but with enough open areas to make for a good camp location.
I picked a spot, that would actually get some ‘morning’ Sun (“Morning being a relative term, this deep in the valley), and I strung a ridge-line between 2 suitably spaced trees, and hung my Tarp and Hammock ..
I Hung my main Pack up in a nearby tree .. Grabbed my “Walkabout Bag”, and went exploring.
As I expected (from Many Hours of poring over the area Topo map) not far off, the terrain opened up into a large valley meadow – The East side of the meadow followed the river, while the West side was sided by a Very Steep Valley Wall ….
And … on the NW edge was a Most Unexpected sight .. What turned out to be a HUGE Elk Super-highway .. Worn into the mountain-side over Many Dozens, if not Hundreds, of Generations of Elk descending to the meadow, to browse, sleep?, and Water.
The “Cut” itself was at least 30 feet wide, and perhaps
10 feet deep, at the point where it opened up onto the meadow.
The ground in and around the meadow was torn up enough, to tell me that The Elk herd had recently been here.
I scouted out a suitable “hide”, to use to conceal myself, and gathered some ferns and Moss, to improvise a comfortable “Sit-Upon”, and then went back to my Camp.
Evening was fast approaching, and instead of building a fire and cooking a meal, I just used my Can-Stove and Pot, to brew up a pot of Coffee, and as darkness started to settle in, I took my Coffee (and remaining sammiches) and made my way back to the “Sit-Upon” Spot I had put together, and settled in for some “Look/Hear/Smell/Feel” Observation Time.
It was getting a lot colder, and I was glad I had dressed appropriately for the conditions.
As it got dark, Many “Night Critters” made their appearance .. Most notably, a medium-sized Badger, that lumbered by .. taking only a passing notice of me, and with a quick “woof”, passing me by.
Night-Birds were flitting around, squeaking and twittering .. And from a little ways off I heard a tree limb break and fall to the ground, frightening what sounded like a couple “roosting?” Grouse.
I had hoped to see The Elk enter The Meadow, but it didn’t seem to be happening.
The Full Moon rose high enough to somewhat light up the Valley.
I finished my Coffee and Sammiches, and as weariness crept into me, I apparently dozed off.
I woke with a start – at High Alert – and without moving or making any sound, I tried to zero-in on the sound that had awoken me. ..
…. “Crunch Crunch Scrape .…”??
Peeking out thru the “blind” I saw what was making the noise – Large Elk were milling around, not more than 20 feet from where I was .. The sound coming from their hooves crunching through the frozen water and grass.
One Magnificent Buck was Staring intently in the direction where I was, and although He hadn’t raised any warning, He was Alert and somewhat nervous.
I stayed absolutely still – barely breathing – and watched as the whole Herd seemed to be settling in for the night .. one by one laying down, while the Bucks kept watch.
O K .. So, How was I going to get away from here, without causing a big ruckus??
I wasn’t .. I could see no way of extricating myself from this arena, so I snugged my “Woobie” tighter around me, pulled my wool watch-cap down around my ears, and quietly watched and listened.
At some point I fell asleep again, and didn’t wake up until dawn was breaking .. The Elk were stirring, and going to the river to drink .. Still crunching the frozen dewy grass.
I watched until at one point, apparently a signal was given, and the whole herd casually moved towards the upper corner of the meadow, and the “Elk Super Hiway”, and with little care or effort, they all exited the area.
I was Very Stiff and Cold, but I stood and watched as the last few marched up the incline and out of sight, and I made my way back to my Camp
As the day fully arrived, I noted that the sky and clouds were looking pretty heavy, and I expected it to rain, so I “tightened up” my camp a bit, and prepared for possibly a Rainy day in camp.
I quickly scavenged a goodly amount of firewood, and got it under my Auxilliary/Ground tarp, to keep it as dry as possible, and I Made another pot of Coffee, and some Breakfast – My Favorite Camp Breakfast is Instant Oatmeal, loaded with Butter and Brown Sugar and Raisins (or other fruit, if it is available)
By Noon it started raining. I adjusted my Tarp, in order to “channel” rain water into my “Rain Cachement”, and within a couple hours of rain I had about 2 Gallons of water, which would fill my needs for a couple days, without having to go get water from the stream or the river.
I kicked back in my Hammock, and enjoyed listening to the rain on the tarp, and the branches near me.
I had a couple of ChipMonks paying much interest in what I was doing – and getting out of the rain, under the corner of my Tarp 🙂 .. I Really Like ChipMonks! I was tossing peanuts down to them, and they were filling their cheeks as full as possible, before scurrying off to their homes, with their bounty .. only to return shortly begging more .. lol
I Always bring a bag of Seed/feed with me, to share with visiting critters.
It rained throughout the day and into the night, so I pretty much just lounged around Camp.
For dinner I made another of my favorite meals .. Spam diced up into bite-sized pieces, and boiled in a pint of water, and then Instant Mashed Potatoes stirred in, making a yummy Hot meal. Along with that, I had made up a bunch of Bisquits, eating some of them with the meal, saving some for morning, and sharing some with the critters.
I was pretty tired, and after dinner, I snuggled into my Sleeping Bag in The Hammock, and faded away into a sound sleep .. Not waking till morning had broken.
Today I was going to go Foraging .. Gather some roots and tubers, Gather some Thimble Berries and Other Berries, Gather a bunch of Greens, And, I was going to try my luck at “hand-line” Fishing.
After Breakfast I grabbed my Trekking Bag, and went Wandering. I spotted larg patches of Miner’s Lettuce and Sorrel (sour clover) and a few other “Greens” near the camp, so I didn’t bother looking further, and would forage them later in the day.
I found a likely spot to try my hand-line, and after digging some grubs and worms, I gave it a try .. Within just a few minutes I had a Strong “nibble” – that took my bait, and that brightened my prospects of a Fish Dinner.
After donating a couple more grubs to the hungry beasties, I finally got a bit “Hit” .. I “Set The Hook”, and started bringing it in … It fought hard, but I had a good hook in him, and it didn’t take long to tug him up on the bank .. Nice .. About 14 inches of Beautiful Rainbow Trout.
I put him on an improvised “stringer”, and dropped him back in the water .. and settled back to watch the river go by. Something caught my eye, and I went to look .. Across the feeder creek I watched a Beaver busily dragging branches into the water and tugging them Up-stream along the creek?
(This would bear some exploring maybe tomorrow)
—————————— End Part 1 ——————————
( Part 2 to follow in future post )