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Thread: Mount Zirkel WA second season trip report

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Currently Owens Cross Roads, AL
    Posts
    444

    Default Mount Zirkel WA second season trip report

    Just back from an extremely successful 8 day hunt into the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area in N.Central CO. All my scouting had been virtual, since my buddy Matt had recently moved to Ft Collins, itching for an elk hunt after 2 years in Japan. The deal was simple, I come out to Colorado with my fancy tipi and stove, and he’ll provide transportation and a logistical home base. Another chance to go elk hunting?...twist my arm, done deal. Only other condition was to provide some tutelage for Matt’s buddy Bill, a USMC Hornet pilot without much more backpacking experience than provided by Uncle Sam, but willing and raring to go. Good deal, always willing to indoctrinate a newbie. As military pilots we shared a common bond, with plenty of time for Army vs. USMC ribbing along the way. Bill and I cheaped out and bought leftover cow tags, saving $200, while Matt was able to pick up both bull and cow tags as a resident for $49. I loaned Bill my Longhunter Rondy, with the explicit instructions; “Don’t you dare fill that thing”, he packed well. We all felt the effect of a rapid ascent to 9300’, as we arrived the day before the season into camp. Initial 4 days were relatively mild, highs from 45-50 and lows in the mid 30s. Then came the snow and temps down to 6 degrees one night, and teens/twenties for the next few. Life became a bit more burdensome, as water froze immediately. Despite running my medium stove full out, the frost/snow line on the tipi stayed about 3-4’ up from the ground. For anyone interested, overnight temps averaged about 5-7 degrees warmer inside vs out due to body heat. Everyone got to dry clothes at night and wake up to a warm tent each morning, so life was good. Important, since every day began and ended with an icy creek crossing to and from camp. We endured a day or so of having to use the top zipper to enter/exit the tipi “birth canal style”, due to a frozen lower zipper. A little hot water eventually solved that issue. My Hanwags, Matt’s Kennetreks, and Bills Danners all faired just fine. Matt and Bill finally understood why I listed gaiters as non-negotiable on the packing list. The zipper on the older Browning gaiters I loaned Bill gave up the ghost on day 3 or 4, so he finished the hunt with my Kennetreks. I used my Sitka Flash gaiters with surprisingly good success for the whole week. Other gear notes; my woobie inside my slick 20 bag worked very well. Cant say enough about my Cabelas rain suede jackets, a little heavy, but well worth the extra bulk for a wind/waterproof jacket that’s light/quiet enough to hunt any day. Bottom line, we covered about 70+ miles over 8 days, and were into elk every day. Everyone had at least one shot opportunity. Bill learned a hard lesson of just how loud the metallic click of a safety coming off is to a giant broadside cow just 45 yards away…heartbreaking. Matt passed on some cows earlier, and the one good bull we found just didn’t offer him the shot he was wanting. My Ruger #1 in 9.3x74R performed admirably, breaking both shoulders and continuing on through that cow at 100yds; bang, flop, slide down the hill…DRT. The best part was running into two ATV hunters while packing out the meat (ATV trail borders the wilderness area). They had seen sign, but no elk….imagine that. I had to chuckle to myself, as I felt they likely felt sorry for me that I didn’t have my own ATV, and “had” to walk all that way into the woods.
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    Bill on the rocks..no fun at all
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    250g Accubond, 65g H4350 2400fps
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    Me, Matt and Bill
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    Me at ~ 10800, extra gear pockets on that handwarmer would be handy Patrick (mini-Koala?)
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    Matt(L) Me (R) on ATV trail packing out
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    Elk tracks in fresh snow
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    Matt and Bill crossing Goose creek on way out
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    Wake up Bill...elk naps never hurt, especially in the sun

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    7,326

    Default Re: Mount Zirkel WA second season trip report

    Great report, awesome country, congratulations.
    "Neither sport nor art should be unnecessarily cluttered and complicated."

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Where the fair wind blows
    Posts
    808

    Default Re: Mount Zirkel WA second season trip report

    Great report - thanks for sharing the experience. Maybe I missed it.... but was that a 8 man tipi and med stove?
    *
    Bitt






  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    eugene, oregon
    Posts
    4,515

    Default Re: Mount Zirkel WA second season trip report

    Looks like you had an outstanding trip (with meat too)!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Currently Owens Cross Roads, AL
    Posts
    444

    Default Re: Mount Zirkel WA second season trip report

    That's a 6 man and medium stove. We lost quite a bit of interior room when the snow/ice weighed it down, but still plenty to move around. An 8 man wouldve enabled us to keep all gear inside, but I doubt it would have fit in where we had camped.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    El Rancho Go Broko
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    2,780

    Default Re: Mount Zirkel WA second season trip report

    Good job guys! 9300 ft. I'm getting dizzy. How long of a pack did you have to get the meat out.
    Build a man a fire and he is warm for the night. Set a man on fire and he is warm for the rest of his life.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Currently Owens Cross Roads, AL
    Posts
    444

    Default Re: Mount Zirkel WA second season trip report

    Ed,
    Pack out was just over 5 miles downhill, not bad at at. Siwash worked like a champ.
    Spence

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    NY
    Posts
    5,005

    Default Re: Mount Zirkel WA second season trip report

    Nicely Done!

    Thanks for the update.

    Congrats on a fine hunt.
    “We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home, in towns and cities.” -Nessmuk

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Wyoming
    Posts
    260

    Default Re: Mount Zirkel WA second season trip report

    Looks like a good hunt!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    588

    Default Re: Mount Zirkel WA second season trip report

    Very nice! Looks like a fun and memorial trip
    The woods are calling and I must go

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