Longitude: 114-07'03'' W.
Day 27 Thursday May19th
Today I took a fairly easy walk and then stopped and talked to a forest service guy and a PAH along the road where I came off the hill. Interesting conversation about things going on in P burg ranger district and what the government wants to do. The forest service is considering any USFS land to be theirs like they are a corporation, they are beginning to no longer look at the forest as “Public land” but their land which they are trying to set up some guidelines that are going to be very hard to live with. The forest service guy said it is crazy what some of these people want to do and it is coming from the top down. He says they used to put out pubilc notice for things and they are going to do away with some of that and just do it. He said it is getting hard for an outdoorsman to work for them, because he can see the garbage that is going on. He hopes Obama will be out along with his cronies and that we can get some people in their who realize how much of the west is public land, belonging to the people not to the government. I found some rusted metal strips (100’s of them) near an old mine (Brooklyn) I found them on a side hill yesterday today I went back and got some for bird house roofs. Don’t know what they were for? Real thin and some 4” x 10”, some 6” X 12 OR 14”, some 4” X 16”. Many deteriorated beyond use, but as I dug down there were many good ones as well. I am getting a stack of things to take home, antlers, some juniper, some diamond willow, some metal, a rock from my camp site, good thing I had extra room on the trailer when I came. Plan to take a bath before I go to bed, I have counted my clothes and figure I can make it without washing them. The weather today was pretty good a little cool, but not too bad. It is forecast to rain the next few days I hope it isn’t when I pack up it will just make things harder. I am running a little low on some items, but I did pretty well on my planning. Read Mosiah 3-6 tonight, and some in my novel. I am going to go and write on my own book and then bath and head for bed.
Day 28 Friday May 20th
Rain all night and then during the day, I thought about just building up the fire and staying warm, when it rained for 2 days Sunday and Monday a couple of weeks ago all I did was sit and try to stay warm. I decided I can’t do that today I only have few days left so I put in my rain gear and went for a walk, 1 ½ hours up below logging road on Royal Basin found one quite old antler, But I can use parts of it so I was happy. I came back to camp and decided I was already wet and may as well keep at it so I went back to a side hill that is steeper than a cow’s face, I was sure it had been walked but I had looked at it from the day I got here and was determined before I left to walk it so I did , it was steep and nothing 1 ½ hours up above into the rocks and almost over the mountain.. As I was up there I saw the Professional Antler Hunter from P-burg go by in his truck, he had found a nice five point just below where I had been walking yesterday and was still looking for the 7 point he had found the first half to a month ago., so when I come off the hill I drive Betsy up to where he was headed and see where he is parked. I had spent two days on that side hill and I thought well he isn’t going to find the 7 pointer there, then I walked a little below the road 1 hour on the way back. I found an old steel wheel (about 2 ½ ‘ in diameter), off a tractor or machine they had used to either log or mine with, I thought that would be cool at home or at the lake and I climbed down thinking I would pack it out of there. Hum, the dang thing was so heavy I could hardly stand it up let alone carry it out of there, as I was looking around I also found the hub, about 8” in diameter even it was to heavy to want to pack it out. I got back total 4 hours walking and was wet and cold. I started a fire and began drying myself and things out, 3 ½ hours later it is still not all dry, I was wet from head to toe even with rain gear one, I think some of it was from the inside out. I hear a truck coming so I dress and go out and it is my PAH from P-burg. He pulls into my camp and I go out, I say did you find it? He motions me over and he has 6 nice antlers in his truck one huge 6 point. I had just walked that last week, I walked below a skid road and he told me he walked above. I couldn’t believe it there was not that much room to some cliffs above and I inquired, He says that was the secret the things were right against the cliffs, he also found a few deer antlers and bundled them together and hd them he couldn’t carry everything. I talk to him more and gain more and more respect, he is a logger and in the spring collects antlers, he has done it for many years 40 or so. Raining hard out there right now, come one clear up! Anyway back to my friend I find His name is Bob LaTray, he has a garage full and a warehouse in Anaconda full and those are just the big ones, he sells all the 5 point and smaller, even 6 point unless big, I find out he finds 500-600 antlers a year and then buys more and sells them back east for chandeliers makers and other craftsman, he gives me his card “Antler Seekers” there is picture of a pickup full of antlers and his name. He has two gold claims, he owns a section of land just north of Yellowstone by Gardner and he leases it to an outfitter who rides it every day in the spring on horseback and gives all the antlers to Bob as part of the lease – he adds another 300 or so a season. Suddenly my 11 antlers seem a pittance in comparison. He tells me it gets in your blood, well it already is in mine, I think I had found about 30 deer antlers at the most in one year, old and new. I have found only 5 or 6 elk antlers other than pieces and some on skulls until this year. Now I have found 11 and I want to get back out there, It is raining right now 9:12 pm but tomorrow is my last walking day, I will stay Sunday and then Monday plan to leave. Monday is the 31st day, I miss my honey, if the weather was nice I would feel some disappointment, I wish I would have realized where I should be walking sooner, I have covered a lot of country where there were no antlers, Bob never goes home with noe, he travels to given places throughout the western part of the state looking, his average day is 4-7 antlers mostly new ones, he knows all the ranchers and people where he walks and walks on private and public land. I got a couple of ideas from him as to where I want to try. He put 2 kids through college on antlers alone, plus bought land etc, antlers 15 years ago were worth a lot, the Chinese were buying all you could find no matter what the condition as an aphrodisiac, I guess that has slowed down some must not have worked like they thought it should. That and bear spleens, I guess they were worth enough guys were shooting bears taking their spleen and leaving the rest – sad. I wouldn’t know a bear spleen if I saw one on the street. I shot a bear while this was a big deal and left the spleen and the rest of the smelly guts where they were, like I said I wouldn’t know one if I saw it. Guess I could have figured it out, but whew smelly and … oh well Bruno is up at the cabin on the wall, no spleen there however. This has been a once in a lifetime experience,I think about it, by the time I am done typing I am ready for bed since I let the fire go out to save wood for a day like today when I can’t go out and get dry stuff. I lay down at night after my prayers, completely relaxed, usually read a novel for a while and then I am get tired put it, my glasses and my headlamp to the side and go to sleep. I have sometime awakened at night to a noise, often the wind, rain, snow, or mice and sometimes some other animal. I usually go right back to sleep, in the morning, I lay again thinking about home, about the day and finally get up, a little stiff but not bad, my legs and back have really not hurt a lot more here than at home. Some days like today my knee actually feels better, even with the rain and the cool weather. Bob says they old irrigation ditch, actually a canal for the mines that runs by P-burg and through Maxville is an excellent place to dig up a bucket of two of dirt to pan, the canal is dry, he says it is excellent, I would like to try some places around here, but right now I have antlers on my mind. I am where they winter, not a;; but there must be a bunch of bulls around because I know of 35-40 antlers from this drainage in not so bug of an area. I walked out of the drainage to no avail, I also walked to high in spots and up to many canyons etc, but I sure saw some wonderful contry and got some good exercise. I thought about it one day as I climbed a fairly steep ridge, up and up and I hardly slowed down, uphill has been better on my knees, side hill which I have doen a lot of and downhill which occurs every time you go uphill hurts them the most. Wind wise I have felt pretty good, another month and I might just beat Tenell and Holly, huh! Especially if I didn’t get any more food, I would really have to ration, but I do have left more than I thought I would. If I were to do it again, I would bring more juice, and a few more dried fruits and more talking rain, that is probably all. Oh maybe more sunflower seeds, and more peanuts roasted and salted in the shell., well it is still raining and I want to work on my book for a while so I guess I better quit. Rain is picking up, heavy big drops, couple weeks ago it would have been snow.
Day 29 Saturday May 21st
Not raining this morning so I got anxious to get out walking, went up Royal Basin again and walked up and around the end of mountain so I could see to Hall, back toward P-burg and over across to Henderson Mountain and Black Pine Mountain, beautiful area some parks, lots of rock outcropping and pretty fair timber around some big firs like this country has and lots of lodgepole. Great walk no antlers but well worth the trip. Later this afternoon I went up Wyman and got 30 or so more diamond willow, some of it so so but some of it pretty good. If the creek wasn’t so high I could have gotten to more, but the water is running everywhere. Loaded the 4 wheeler, the willow, a rock, the metal, the juniper logs and an starting to get ready to go home, pretty sad, except I miss Saundra and puppy, everyone else as well. Hard to believe I have lived a month of my life in the canyon, in this tent, have walked nearly every day but Sunday missed one because of extreme rain and snow. I will be interested in my weight when I get home. My pants are bigger, but that maybe cause when you wear them for two weeks they stretch, I change underwear and socks and shirts regularly, but my pants get so dirty walking through the brush and on the side hills, in the rocks etc, that they look worn 2 weeks on the first day. Tonight while I was loading the trailer, the three deer who have spent the whole time in my camp, tried to go in the tent, I talk to them every evening and they just look at me, they act like I am not here. They hear other noises and turn and look and walk a ways, but they don’t leave when I talk or move around, they are used to me. It’s a doe and two year old fawns. They are funny, they will walk right through the edges of my camp and then go the other way, they leave before dark, but I don’t think there has been an evening they haven’t been here. As much as I like them there really isn’t enough room for me, mice and three deer in the tent so I told them they had to sleep somewhere else, one must have been upset cause she tipped over my wood block I wash up on. They tried to drink out of my water bucket, I just filled so I can take a bath. Well, I will be short tonight and write again tomorrow, so I can write on my book.
The 2nd most beautiful site in Montana is Butte, Mt in your rear view mirror.