View Full Version : Fine & Pleasant

Kevin B
09-23-2009, 12:56 AM
Ever take note of the exact time you realize you're a hypocrite? I uncovered that little nugget last weekend. Just after having stopped rationalizing it, I relayed it to my companion and attitudinal prop the morning after it set in on me.

My wife would have had 4, maybe 5 kids. We'll disregard the financial reasons that wasn't wise. We had two premi's out of 3. The last pregnancy was a disaster of pain, pre-term labor, worry and rushes to the Dr. Despite, about 6 mo's after #3 arrived it was as if none of it had ever happened. "Let's have more!" was the refrain, at least lets have one more. I tried 6 ways to Sunday to explain the horror show that last one was, the stress the angst but I was talking to a wall. I found it way past curious. Frustrating when it's soooo obvious.

Looking at a tarp ceiling, exhausted, dehydrated, demoralized and having had your illusions raped by a bushwhacking 4700 foot 4+ mile incline followed by 700 foot 1/2 mile scree field decline, irony gets defined. 4 miles is as you draw the line straight on the map, it aint no 4 miles.

The real irony is how every year you can find some far flung, beyond reasonable, honey spot (that maybe isn't) that you can dream into all that... with chips. Yet, find yourself looking at tarps and tents in remarkably similar states of affair and in 6 mo's romanticise them away to do it again, next year. I have a new appreciation of my wife, and her dreams.

I just had one of those 15 or so totally ridiculous type trips you might endeavor in your life. Made imaginable by personal desire and being a dreamer of far flung spots. Made possible by the right compatriot. This was the first time I was the Trailer in the Tractor-Trailer combo of the outdoors endeavor. I was pulled across the finish line when physically I'd about run out. I've been quit on and I've had my hunt squished by those who wouldn't or couldn't endure or share enough passion. Not this time.

Looking up from flat on my ass, Allen had the right instinct to ask if I'm "Good"? It's 80 degrees and 1:30. We've made it all of 400 yards up the grade and I've missed a foot plant on a log and slid on my back side 8 or so yards to where I lie. Yep, I'm good. (I fall, it's just who I am). Allen's humor is barely concealed. Exposing the male bonded nature to find humor, once real consequence has passed, in your buddy's predicament. Something we laughed mightily about nearly arriving back at the truck at the end of the trip. Laughing at his lack of choices, but to mock me. As would I or you, or any other guy to his pard after an oh sh#t moment ended well.

800 yards, I've had several hard pulls on my bladder, all the water I have. My fantasy is that this 20 year since decommissioned trail exists in whole, if not in part for it's entire length. I've really based my trip on it, because I've decided to disregard any facts that interrupt my fantasy (see pregnancy discussion above). The trail once found will lead to shangri-la. But, it's not there. PERIOD. There's an old road bed that's just as nasty as the non road bed ridge. So, we sally forth up and up.

After a tedious long bushwhacking pull, we make the upper grade where the ridge is finally narrow and high. The remnants of the trail do exist but only because nature reclaims these places more slowly. There's a 1/2 mile respite and a real and true morale booster. But we're now at 6:00 and we're still over 1.50 miles and 1700 feet from the highest point of our travel. It's still in the mid 70's and the bladder goes dry. It's a race now. Against dark and against water.

Our slope is timbered but dry. We cross onto a flank with a nasty steep 1/2 mile to the pass of side-hilling, slide alder and brush. Dropping into the bottom of the grade we assume the travel must be better and, maybe, there'll be water too. No. Now's where irony really gets a kick in the testes.

We've never been where we're going. It's arid and has been for a long time. We're going toward where the map says we'll find a tiny puddle, over the pass, without name and without number. Parched, exhausted and losing physical strength and mental will, what if that puddle is a mud cake? Next water is another 1000 feet down from our destination. I'm hitting the wall and we're still 800 feet from the pass and another 1700 down if we're wrong, from water. Later it's clear my pard was hitting the wall too, but he's the tractor in this gig, so he finds amusements and the positive. I'd say he lifted my spirits but it was more like prevented their collapse. Dark hit as we lifted out of a very steep canyon into the belly of a tiny cirque leaving 600 feet of talus and gravel before we cross over.

I've had it. But We're hours and hours from where we came and there's no water there either. Over is the water. We both know it and so Allen down shifts into low and heads up every so often to utter some sort of giddy up or how you doin to me in tow.

Finally cresting this ridge, it's dark. We've missed the right spot to cross over that would have been obvious in the daylight. We don jackets and headlamps and begin sliding down the scree fields of the other side. Sliding 8 or 10 feet, trundling stuff down the mountain was the deal. I'm asking Allen, the one of us with some idea how to work a GPS WHERE #(*& &*($ are we in relation to that WATER!!! It's 9PM.

Pond! "Did you say Blond?" NO, POND! Even when he's every bit as ecstatic as I am to get a fill, he makes light and only let's on later. We drink the water as fast as it's filtered. Good thing too because this is a very shallow track filled puddle that's had lots of stuff deposited on it's banks. It's 10 PM.

No one has to say anything about how the rest of this trip will go. The areas we had planned to hunt aggressively are over a mile as the crow flies distant and lose and gain 700 feet either side. We are now for 180 type deer or no way is it worth it. Maybe not then. It's super hot and nothing moves, nothing worth pursuing for sure. We take a day just to unscrew what we've done getting here.

It's a hunting thread I know. But there's no story of deer or the one that got away. No missed shots or blown out country. It was a brilliant destination. Nearly perfect in many ways. It has everything you want. Majestic views, big glassing country and clearly has deer. It's just an impossible place. One that in far less than 6 months I'll romanticise into a place that I have to figure out a way to hunt again, better, longer.

The difference between a fine and pleasant misery and a disaster is the right companion.

Thanks Allen

Ed C
09-23-2009, 05:18 AM
:D:D:D Chit I wish I could have been there! I've been on a few like that.
Great report. I'm still laughing:D

09-23-2009, 06:21 AM
Reminds me of a one-liner that I picked up somewhere and have hanging over a certain picture in my office ..... "Discomfort remembered is called adventure."

09-23-2009, 07:47 AM

I was anxiously awaiting an email from Allen's new Blackberry...big, red deer, hands wrapped around a wrist-thick main beam, 180" of excellence!

Sounds like a good and challenging trip. You are right though, Allen is a man of conviction, confidence and ability to keep his pards going when the going is beyond tough. Trust me, I know.

Glad you're home safe and sound.

09-23-2009, 08:56 AM
Great post Kevin. I've been there... though not with Allen.

Scoutin' Wyo
09-23-2009, 09:03 AM
Loved it, thanks for the great read Kevin!!

Jim N
09-23-2009, 09:17 AM
Great story Kevin!

David in OR
09-23-2009, 09:33 AM
Highly entertaining. Something tells me you'll be in there again. :)

09-23-2009, 11:00 AM
Great read. It's amazing what a great pard can do for your resolve.

mark s
09-23-2009, 11:43 AM
Thanks for the story! I find that 1 month is a more realistic period for reinterpreting an adventure.

09-23-2009, 12:16 PM
Kevin, your post was a fun read. Thanks for taking us along on your adventure, via print, even if I was able to sip on a glass of ice water while doing so. ;) You are right. It won't be long before the sting will fade and the next trip will be in the planning stages. We never learn, do we? Or maybe we do learn...that the benefits of such a trip far outweigh the misery and so we get back out there.

William Clunie
09-23-2009, 01:14 PM
That's exactly why we keep going out "there." Compared to the middle of the city, your discription of the outdoor adventure is pure bliss. You learned to desperately thirst before drinking, and to go out far enough to struggle to get back. You didn't shy from hardship, you dove into it headfirst.

Good job to you both,


09-23-2009, 02:20 PM
During a pause in what seemed like a never-ending veggie belay assisted ascension, I cavalierly muttered back over my shoulder to my intrepid companion fighting his way through some slide alder below, "You know Kev, this is so much better than if we were on an actual trail."

After obtaining a mostly secure position, Kevin muttered back in his own uniquely twisted brand of acerbic sarcasm replied, "Yeah. Once a guy does this, he'll never want to go back to trails."

And so it went.

I'm actually a little surprised that the only portion of my body that is sore are my stomach muscles...from seemingly non-stop chuckles and laughter throughout the trip. Mostly with him. Oftentimes at him.

Other than that, I've not much to add to Kevin's excellent report other than that I'll forever be grateful to have been able to share such a experience with a similarly deranged hunting companion who also pines away at opportunities to suffer through herculean backcountry trips that are much more reasonably analogous to receiving a barbed wire enema. (the "barbed wire enema" being one of many darkly humorous anecdotes I picked up from Kevin)

These types of excursions demand that your companions have many positive attributes in spades, chief among them being an outstanding sense of humor, even when the chips are down, and an iron-clad will to not let themselves or others down when the going gets…well, decidedly unpleasant. Having recently swung through some rough country with both of them, Kevin and Randy are at the top of a very short list of guys I would happily venture into the unknown with and back, anytime, anywhere.

Thank you Kevin. I'm looking forward to (and am already planning) another backcountry assault on the meager remains of our sensibilities. No really, you're going to really like the off-trail basin I've found. It's only...

And now for some pics that won't give away the whereabouts of this long-abandoned slice of mule deer heaven...

That which Kevin was staring at while reflecting on irony of it all - frozen condensation inevitably found on the inside of a para-tipi mere inches from one's face in the morning. These absolutely need a liner or a bivy-sack for extended trips. That's all I have to say on the matter.

Para-Tipi and Tarp Camp...we were expecting "better" weather that was forecasted for the hunt. Alas, just some rain and sleet during one night and part of a morning.

Different view. Note the exterior A-Frame pitch...the only way to go. Not having that center pole smack in the middle of the most valuable real estate makes it a whole different shelter.

The JetBoil cranking steam high into the cool morning air as it worked hard to provide us with enough purified drinking water. (The untimely failure of the water filter soon after we'd found the Blond, er...Pond, in the dark and began filtering water was yet another especially poignant moment of the trip. The onset of rehydration related retching and nausea soon after drinking said water was another.) The tarp is shown here with half of it untethered and tossed over the other half, thereby allowing easier access to the frozen interior of the para-coffin while we were packing up for the ex-fill...

The so-called Tractor enjoying a mid-morning warm-up before packing up to head out. The Kifaru Parka is one of those pieces of miracle gear that comes down the pipe from time to time. A Must Have piece of kit. I slept in what you see with a Doobie thrown over me on top of a Downmat 7. Temp gauge at 3:30AM read 27ish degrees. Snug as a bug in a rug as they say.

The Trailer posing next to an ancient trail sign while taking in the endless vistas. I've purposefully obscured the sign so that no one would seek out the exact location and similarly endanger themselves. If you look closely with a discerning eye, it's clear that he is attempting to hide just how eagerly he was looking forward to descending the next bottomless scree field...

09-23-2009, 02:35 PM
Randy what happened? I thouht you were gonna be in on that one! Looks like you were a man of reason, like me, as it sounded like a typical Allen, bushwhack from hell. Glad you guys made it out to bring a great story to all of us. Great read Kevin!

Lost Arra
09-23-2009, 08:41 PM
Great story guys!

I really like that external A-Frame tarp.

Since the tarp appeared to cover the entrance to the tipi I was wondering if you left the "door" of the tipi open to help with the condensation or if that would have any effect?

09-23-2009, 09:03 PM
We just left the top of the para-tipi open in an effort to aleve some of the condensation that we knew would settle. Quite frankly, there is just too much surface area, no stove to burn it off and not enough chimney effect to get it out. Result, ample condensation. We slept under the tarp the other nights, strung up in different shapes, with no condensation and perfectly dry.

Tarps rule unless there is the possibility of high winds and moisture. Even then they can be battened down considerably.

Here's a few pics of a different pitch at a layover spot while on a trip with Randy, that easily kept us out of the wind and pitter patter of a smattering of rain.




Lost Arra
09-23-2009, 09:27 PM

Great photos and beautiful location. It almost looks like a movie set for an outdoor film.

09-23-2009, 09:29 PM
Have you tried the new Kifaru CCB? (Condensation Catch Basin) Great for places that are lacking fresh water. Looks like you could have gotten enough for breakfast anyway. The G1 is nice, but the G2 holds more water and includes a siphon hose.

09-23-2009, 11:14 PM

Not much has been said about an August scouting trip into some magnificent high country that Allen I took a few weeks back. Suffice it to say we saw beautiful country, big mountains a couple of bears, gorged on several varieties of huckleberries, laughed our way through a great weekend and had plenty of water.

We also found our conditioning paid off after the Super Lunker Trout Lake adventure. We were tired, we put on, I would guess, in the neighborhood of 18 or so miles on our exfil, 6+ of that in the dark. We pushed ourselves to get out of the backcountry, we learned some things about ourselves and each other, that only the backcountry can teach you.

I decided after a long week, that with the lack of deer, let alone a legal buck, that I was not mentally prepared to to back into that country to hunt at this time. Perhaps in the future. Allen is truly a one of a kind fellow. He craves the adventure and challenge big country provides. I will undoubtedly follow along again on a trip of epic proportions. I doubt you'll see a lot of photos from our scouting trip due to the extreme top-security clearance needed for a full debrief and view of the photos:)

Kevin B
09-24-2009, 12:05 AM
The para-tipi is what it is. It's got nothing worse or better than any single wall enclosed operation as it relates to condensation.

We had it vented at top but otherwise we were in it zipped down because of what appeared to be the threat of a heavy wind and maybe snow. We could have flapped a door, but of course that'd have defeated the wind deflection purpose. Another night in a down drafting valley we might have been served with it rather than the tarp to keep a little extra air movement off ourselves. Everything is a trade off. Including the orientation of your camp and tarp/tent openings relative to the movement of air.

Everything being equal, and it never is, give me the six man. But for this trip the cost of the full 6 man outfit once we had committed to potentially needing a tarp as a permanent sleep where you find yourself camp, made it impractical. Everything has it's place and the better you can do to scheme out the conditions you'll face the better decision you can make on the shelter to weight conundrum.

09-24-2009, 06:44 AM
Great story guys. I'm sure you'll be heading back out soon. Nice use of the tarp. Is it homemade or commercial?

09-24-2009, 11:31 AM
Great story of a memorable trip. I remember talk of this trip at the rondi and it sounds better than you expected! Having more kids soon Kevin? Now I have to go and get a drink of water cause for some reason I am a bit thirsty.

10-01-2009, 08:04 PM
Great story, thanks for sharing. Glad to hear I'm not the only one that participates in the annual I-almost-died march to the honey-hole.

10-02-2009, 03:48 PM
Sounds like all you needed was a little more conditioning and a little more water.

10-02-2009, 08:49 PM
Perhaps to the former, though I a recent recovery from gastro issue was the likely culprit.

Absolutely to the latter.

10-04-2009, 12:49 PM
that looks like a real pretty area. looks like you got a great set up there

10-13-2009, 04:44 PM
Excellent stuff because it's oh so true!

I have a great mule deer spot in Colorado's Weminuche Wilderness that is just a killer to backpack into. It simply destroys me every time I make that hike. And every time I swear I'll not make it again. But I occasionally do. Winter seems to dull my recall of the pain. Hunting is a rather romatic thing, and often romatics disregard logic.