More from the month in the mountains:
Day 4 Tuesday April 26th
Was slow getting out of bed this morning as it was cold and I could see through the holes in the ole green tent that it was overcast – unlike Easter Sunday when the sun shone through the holes as it rose from the east side of my tent. I ate a light breakfast and gathered things up putting them in my pack. I drove the mule (4 wheeler) up the main canyon for 3 or 4 miles to where I had noticed a bare ridge running up the east from the road. It was probably ½ mile above the road where the trees thinned and the opening began. I had seen it on Monday and determined to walk up it. I have it so hot in this tent tonight I feel like I am getting tired quickly (it had been a cold day today and I was chilled so I split more wood and decided to build a fire early to get it comfortable inside as I typed - looks like I got carried away. Back to my walk – before I got off the mule and hid it in the trees I saw several (6 or so) sets of suspect tracks along the road in the fresh snow – wolves a small pack – I started wishing I had brought the 44 but it was back at the truck. I walked for 1 ½ hours steadily as my knee and left foot allow up a fairly steep ridge and around into the next canyon. I was disappointed when I came to man tracks in the mud – fresh. I bet it was the fellow I talked to Sunday night for P-burg who has a garage full of antlers and walks these canyons every spring, it was a single track and I saw no others so I am pretty sure it was him – he had found 6 elk antlers that day (Sunday) and I bet he3 looked this side hill over well. I was already part way up so I decided to continue and realized that no one person can cover it all sufficiently to find every antler . Unfortunately I did not find anything, but interesting country and some real neat big ole fir trees that had fallen over years ago, plus a lot of real nice rocks. My total walk was 2 ½ hours, my feet and knee hurt so I decided I would ride the mule to a couple more spots and just look around, in both cases I came to deeper snow than ole mule could handle even in 4 wheel drive, but I think I will go back to one and leave the mule and walk over the ridge hoping to find some open ground out of the snow on the southwest slope – perhaps find an antler or two – unless already covered by someone. Met a man with a knarly beard and hair and a mountain man hat on a 4 wheeler on my way back to camp – we visited a while and he told me he has lived here most of his life – just out of Maxville and rides up these canyons almost every day. I thought I caught a whiff of him as we talked, but maybe it was me. I looked at him and realized I was headed his way. He told me he had not driven a car in 14 or 15 years and hadn’t had a drivers license or a telephone for at least that long. He has a daughter in Anaconda and 3 grandchildren and a few other family members scattered around. Said his daughter worries about him always driving around alone up in these mountains, so she finally convinced him to lea ve notes as to where he was going (he said it probably wouldn’t help, by the time they found him the wolves or the bears would have him. He has a few standard notes and pulls the right one out and leaves it on his table when he leaves, sometimes he changes his mind and goes elsewhere so ??? He swore a lot and had a gun - but seemed friendly enough. He ask if it was me camping down the road and I told him yes. His name was John somethingorother. I finished reviewing my book to this point was the first time I have read what I had written for a long time – it needs a little revision especially since the characters and streets are too familiar – need to change it a little – other than that – not to bad of a start – now I can continue on with it. SO far there is a Prologue and 4 chapters. I will begin chapter 5 tonight . The fire has dwindled to tolerable and my feet are a little cool. My battery is down to about 1/3rd left – with all the electronics I really am struggling to keep them usable – I tried to use the video camera tonight and it was dead will try to charge it and this computer sometime tomorrow - I think I best start the truck and let it run a while to keep the battery up as I steal power from it, gas like dollars signs floating in the air – oh well at least the air is beautiful (kinda when the sun comes out) – but the scenery is definitely beautiful . Best write on book and head for the ground (I mean the bed).
Day 5 Wednesday April 27th
Last night as I was typing away on my book the lantern burned out and I realized that I will only get 3-4 nights out of a 1 lb bottle – I do not want to bring the 20 bottle into the tent – nor the hose – to many connections and I would rather use the little bottles which I think are much safer & take less room. Upon my realization that I had only 3 1lb bottles left I decided since it was pretty cold and my =feet hurt from yesterdays walk that I would take the truck & trailer with the four wheeler on it to P burg to buy some more bottles, fill the 4 wheeler with gas and buy a few bananas. This may seem like and unmountain man thing to do, but then again even Jim Bridger went to town to trade etc. I figure a good part of why I am here is to write on my book, study the scriptures, and keep a record of what I do so bottles of gas are essential to what I am about. I also ate at the Stage station in P-burg a lunch special turkey salad sandwich and taco soup. That is the first warm thing I have eaten since Saturday as I was leaving town and had a dollar cheeseburger and a dollar spicy chicken and 2 for a dollar apple pies from McDonalds. I have not felt like cooking anything, it gets to cool at night to want to be out and I don’t have a lot of room in the tent although I could and probably should cook on the stove. Part of the whole truth is that I have not gotten everything organized yet and I have yet to find everything until I really want to dig for it, I have been content to eat an apple, drink some juice, eat a peanut butter sandwich (not peanut butter and jam), eat sunflower seeds and a few other cold goodies that are in the top of my boxes. When I have used some of the stuff it will be easier to arrange things for now my days have been make sure I have enough wood, go for a walk, write in my journal (this), study, write on my book. I have been quite content with this so far and as the days hopefully get warmer I will adjust accordingly. After going to P burg I came back and rode ole Betsy up the main road to Princeton (5 old cabins a couple occupied) then on up the creek. I wanted to try and get to the old Princeton Mine but I could not. It is a good thing I didn’t try my original plan, I got into snow 4 or so feet on the level and 6 feet drifts, the only reason I could go on was that there was a worn snowmobile and four wheel trail up the middle of the road. It has melted a little and so I often sunk and thought I was going to be in trouble as I was about 7 miles from anything and walking in that much spring snow is very difficult. I did however get to the Little Gold Creek turn off which was still several miles and a couple thousand feet below the pass I originally had planned on packing everything into. As it is with the weather I did the exact right thing in setting up a base camp in this meadow – just below the greater amounts of snow and still get a little sunshine, being out of either canyons. On the way back I decided to take the trail up the power line – generally the gate is closed. It is a steep as visible from the Princeton road 4 wheel trail. I started up it and one committed had to go like crazy as it steepened quickly around the bend and slopped dramatically down to my left, it got steeper and steeper with no where to turn around so on I went giving it the goose, not daring to stop – Jake would appreciate this as we did the same over the hill from here a couple hunting seasons ago. Once you get started sometimes the only safe course is to continue – otherwise you could be in deep do do. Well I made it up and found a great place to walk on open bald ridges south facing above the Princeton road. I took a good 1 ½ walk and covered considerable ground up and around a large bowl, in and out of the trees. I did not find any antlers as I think the profession antler hunters (hereafter PAHs) got there first. I did not realize until I had met several here that there are such a group – there have been four I have talked to in my wanderings and they had the antlers to show it. They just had to beat someone else to their favorite spots and so far I am sucking the hind teat as the old farmers say. I am too little too late, but I will keep at it for the joy of the beauty I see and the antlers are just a bonus if I find them. It suddenly occurs to me why I have found fewer and fewer antlers every year. There are those PAHs who spend a lot of time and they are locals who know where to go and watch the weather etc and head out just right. It appears here I am about a week late, however they can’t have covered it all.
I have seen some beautiful rocks and big old knarly fir trees. I have found several rocks on todays walk that are deeply pitted like some I have packed home, wind, snow and rain beaten and parts of the rock must be softer as it is eaten away leaving deep holes in the rock. One looked like a minute arch from southern Utah. The rain and wind had eaten clear through and there was a fist sized hole forming an arch above. The whole rock (the above the ground portion) was about 5 ½ feet long and 2 ½ to 3 feet high it was magnificent – would love to have it, but just the visible part made it impossible for even a superman like me to haul it out, go thing I couldn’t drive to it. After the walk on the way down the hill I decided it was a good thing I had used the latrine before I came or there could have been trouble. As it was I hung on to my hat and boots and leaned way uphill on Betsy and headed down the hill. Since this area is open and much easier on this knee etc I plan to attack the same place again in the next few days - maybe several times. Heaven forbid I would do it after another of our little snow storms – so I will watch the weather. It has been considerably colder on some nights than others – although I have slept warm. I stepped out a minute ago and it is clear as can be with beautiful, bright stars overhead. Why can’t it be clear like this in the day instead of always fighting itself from snow or rain. Easter Sunday was by far the nicest day, but I will assume nicer weather must surely come my way although it looked like on my phone the rest of the week is going to continue as is with tomorrow possibly being the worse. Highs in the mid 30’s or so with snow and “freezing mix” as the weather man (or woman) likes to say. Well I best quit I want a bath (a sponge bath) and I still have a little to do it is 10:45 my latest night yet I have sometimes been asleep an hour ago I best hurry.