More from the mountains:
Day 12 Wednesday May 4th
Decided I had walked most everywhere close where I could get without too much snow, so I thought I would do something else. Walking through melting spring snow with layers of frozen stuff under it is like wading in knee deep wet cement or mud. All I know is it is hard on my knee. After breakfast and folding some of the laundry that had “freeze dried”, I hung the rest in the tent, loaded Betsy, including an extra gas can and headed for Smart Creek. I had recalled seeing what appeared to be diamond willow in the creek bottom years ago but I had never really dug around enough to find any. It was 13 miles to the point up the creek on an old trail/over grown logging road. I spent the next 3 hours tromping around in the creek bottom. There was snow, water and snakes all around. I trudged around trying not to get wet. Ok! So I was joking about the snakes, they would have been snow snakes anyway, and the snow was not everywhere, but where it wasn’t often there was a little bit of water, it was melting today. I did see a beautiful coyote, lots of mice, some mulies and a lot of pretty country. I managed to bring home 9 pretty nice pieces of diamond willow. I was wishing I had taken the chain saw as there were some bigger very interesting pieces and I was using a bow saw which are not the best and they get bound up easy, I may go back while on thie trip or in the future. Studied for a while when I got back, ate supper and then came in to work on my book. It is going slow and I need to move from the story line to something with a little more excitement at this point and I am having a little trouble bridging the gap, need to think more about it. Unlike when I walk I thought to much about diamond willow and was looking at each bush and avoiding the water etc so I didn’t let my mind run as I often do. Tomorrow! Looks like the weather should be decent – cool and 30% chance of rain but it gets worse toward the weekend. Ok time for beddie bye. Oh I meant to say as I was loading up the stiff to head to Smart Creek I started singing in my mind, “to Smart Creek I will go, to Smart Creek I will go, Hi Ho the Dairo, to Smart Creek I will go. Couldn’t get it out of my head. Funny what happens when you spend lots of time alone huh.
Day 13 Thursday May 5th
Today was a great day! It was cold last night I had a hard time getting warm as I went to be, then about 4 am I heard the wind come up and the trees swaying and the tent and tarp flapping, not near as much since I lean poles up around the tarp and tent, but suddenly it was warmer. When I woke up this morning it was still windy, but it was a warm wind. It was overcast most of the day, but warm and windy, by warm I mean relatively, I think it probably reach the high 40’s or low 50’s up these canyons, compared to where we have been I thought I was on South Beach in Miami with my sweetie and the Bowmans. I was already to go jump in the ocean again. Careful it has cooled off considerably again tonight, and I heard raindrops on the tent, I went out and sure enough, not snow, but rain. It has stopped no however. I said it was a great day! In fact score one for the good guys, I mean a great one for the senior citizens, and achy joint crowd and in particular for me. I have whined about the PAH’s (professional antler hunters in case you have forgotten). They were here the first weekend I came and they found between the four I talked to ten elk antlers, I saw four of them. They walked the obvious and some not so obvious places, and I have found their footprints in most of the places I have walked. Well today I walked one of the side hill they had covered, only instead of going right up the open south facing slope on the mountain, I went up a little creek in the bottom, there was still al little snow in this bottom, but I figured they had covered the open areas (at least near the old logging road) , so I go for about `/2 hour up the bottom and notice that up a side canyon there is an opening. Now I have walked this hill before in fact some of the rocks from the cabin came form here, but I had always walked in the open so I have never seen this side canyon with an opening, neither did the PAH’s. I crossed the creek and worked my way up until I was in the open and out of the snow, I started up him at an angle with a play to work left to right and then back going up 40-50 feet at a time so as to cover the whole of it. This also gives me a view of the area from below and above. I was about 5 minute into my first crossing when I saw above me on the hill – in the open an antler. I worked up to it, took a picture before I picked it up. A nice though small 5 point at least two years old as it was bleached pretty well, not rodent chew marks on it however – nice. Well, now that is excitement, when this happens it is like seeing elk during hunting season, about the same kind of thrill, only you don’t have to be quite and you don’t have to sneak along – you can walk right up to them. Well, I carried that critter and continued up the hill, back and forth, back and forth until I reached the heavy snow near the top. As I looked down from the top I could see another small ridge sticking out off of the one I was on again hidden from the larger slope and running at an angle from the main south slope, but it was open and snow free. So I decided to work my way down the southeast edge of the opening I was on, in and out of the trees as the snow would allow. On the way down I just happen to glimpse another antler up under a juniper bush. I had walked to within 10’ of it on the way up, but my angle was wrong and I couldn’t see it. Score another for the good guys, the senior citizens, the achy bones crowd. This one was pretty good sized, also a couple years old, also bleached, though not as much since in behind the bush, but chewed by critters on the 5th and 6th points, the 6th point being about ½ gone. No they were not new, no they were not perfect, but I’ll take em any day. Yahoo for the old timers, the whiners who can hardly move in the mornings, the guys who have to almost step on them to see them (well then that is everybody), but score two for the good guys. Yea two, two, two. Renewed my enthusiasm for walking where the PAH’s have walked and doing it smarter. Yahoo! After bring them back, I rode up the road and developed a little bit of a plan for the future, if it keeps melting I will be able to access a couple more spots, where I don’t think the PAH’s went, because they don’t like wading in concrete any more than I do. Studied as per usual and worked on my book it is 10:28 guess it’s time to brush the old teeth, check my phone for messages, put things away for the night, say my prayers and climb in bed.