“Home” Blazing*

*Home Blazing – not to be confused with “green blazing“…at home. Read on for an explanation.

Every since our plans to hike the CDT have been put on hold, the desire to continue our training (frankly any form of training) has been a struggle. In my last post for The Trek (Post-(poned) Trail Depression), I like many other intended 2020 thru-hikers have been fairly dismayed, if not depressed. Luckily our (my) pity party was relatively short lived…once I figured out what I was actually experiencing.

Since our (my) “enlightenment” we’ve gotten a bit creative with our training, and I have added the Strava app to my phone as a way to track our “Home Blazing” exploits.

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During this whole COVID-19 thing, we never stopped hiking (except for that week it rained constantly). As I have stated before, we are blessed to have an expansive back country of hills within walking distance of our house. Normally we wander the designated trails and power company dirt roads. However, with the extensive (and unusual) rain we’ve had up until recently, traversing those trails were a no-go…unless of course you like walking in mud the consistency of moose snot. And if you can walk without skating, said mud will then cake up onto the bottoms of your soles till you feel like you are hiking in uneven platform shoes, and/or have made your own adobe brick. Not fun, and very annoying.

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But even as the trails dried out, we were subjected to a yellow tunnel of mustard plant overgrowth, and the encroachment of other green grow-ey stuff. While beautiful, this meant (especially in these areas) that as we have entered “snake season”, our ability to avoid them became even more precarious.

Enter our latest term, “Home Blazing”, where we have created routes around our neighborhood streets.

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This is not to be confused with the often distasteful term of “Yellow Blazing”, wherein in road walking is done to avoid hard trail miles, or even miles at all. We were trying to keep up with our mileage, if not increase it, to insure that our feet are going to be ready to thru-hike once this pandemic subsides sufficiently. We were not only prepping our feet, but our minds for the plethora of what is considered the “dreaded” road walking that makes up a good portion of the CDT. This road walking, mostly on cement sidewalks, is/was BRUTAL! In mapping out routes we turned to Google Earth. We found we could make loops and add hills without getting our feet muddy. But also on Google Earth we discovered that we may have discovered how to circumnavigate the perimeter of our city, and turn it into a unique challenge once the trails dried up, and the paths were “widened” of the encroached vegetation.

We broke the route into sections, to get a more accurate measure of the mileage and difficulty ( our trail “system” is devoid of switch-backs, and our city is anything but flat). A 6 mile section, even a 4 mile one will have you huffing and puffing. For those who are familiar with the first “dreaded climb” of the PCT out of Hauser Creek, it makes that look like a cake-walk, with a third of the elevation gain. To date we have completed and mapped all but two major sections of our intended “challenge”. One section, the beach route has finally opened, but we are waiting for the trails within San Onofre State Park to open up, to be able to complete this proposed “challenge”. Our goal is to complete it in one day, of which we expect it to be somewhere between 23-26 miles. We won’t truly know the actual mileage until we do it.

Some part of me hopes it is 26.2 miles, making it one “mean” marathon.

Posted in Backpacking, Calilfornia, Day Hikes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Girls Trip – Cancun baby!

**So I had planned to post this last year, but well, things got a bit hectic and I never got around to it. In some ways I am glad that I didn’t, especially with all the current uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the stay-at-home orders (worldwide). This trip wouldn’t even be remotely possible now.

This particular adventure, while it involves Cancun (and Vicky’s 60th birthday), is more so a celebration of friendship. Not everyone was able to stay for the week, but the fact they showed up…even if it was for a day or two, says a lot.

It’s amazing how friendships, forged in college, (we all swam and played water polo together at UCSD) can stand the test of time (and often politics).

Alumni game…old age and treachory triumphed over youth and vigor behind us

This year however, we (and everyone else for that matter) aren’t going anywhere, so like many, the only way we can get together is via ZOOM.

Photo “borrowed” from Lori

And with Vicky’s birthday on the horizon…again, I thought it fitting for us to revisit yesteryear.

Happy Birthday Vicky!

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From bright white snow to bright white beaches.

This week was a collegiate reunion and week long landmark birthday celebration for my swim and water polo teammate, Vicky. Seeing as she is the first of our teammates to “age up”, she gets to pick the celebratory destination. This specific decade called for a rally to Cancun Mexico. (the last decade involved a memorable trip to Las Vegas. BTW, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas…mostly). This excursion, as with most, my friend Sandy (aka. Pole Dancer) and I were travel buddies. We tried something new, and frankly cheaper to get to our destination. We found that the cost of flights to Mexico are significantly reduced if you fly out of Tijuana (TJ). Seeing as the drive time to TJ verses LAX, is virtually the same for the both of us, we decided to be adventurous, and use the CBX land bridge from the US side that deposits you directly into the Tijuana airport…for a cost of $30/ea for a round trip when you purchase the tickets online. Once you get your ticket via email, it directs you to Mexico’s immigration site, where you essentially complete your Visa request, and pay your entry/stay fees for trips lasting over seven days. This makes going through customs a breeze, unless of course you forget to print out the Visa and only bring your receipt that you paid your Visa fees…and your Spanish is no bueno. I can read it, and if you talk slow enough I can understand, but my ability to to respond verbally (in Spanish) is hampered by the fact that it goes through a German language filter before I can pull up the Spanish response. When I get stuck, my “go-to” foreign language ist Deutsch. This makes for odd (pathetic Americano) looks, and awkward conversations. For this adventure, we chose Volaris Airlines. Each email update, to include flight changes was, of course en Espanol. Applying for the Visa, and paying my fees (to include the “agreement” to pay via my credit card) was all in Spanish as well. I’m sure there was something I could have clicked to have the page switch to English, but then that would have been entirely too easy. For a Thursday, I was amazed at how packed each leg of our flight was, and how uncomfortably compressed the padding of our seats were, considering how much “padding” I provide myself.

As we flew over Mexico, I was amazed at the ruggedness of the terrain, jagged hills, vast mesas and deep canyons cut by narrow twisting and turning rivers. After a two hour layover in Guadalajara, we were on our way to Cancun.

Arid mesas and sharp canyons melt into lush, “flat” terrain that is choked with dense “jungle” vegetation. Evidence of past parcels of property having been cleared for use via controlled burns can be seen from my window as linear “boxes” in various stages of reclamation by the voracious forest, having been left untended.

When we arrive in Cancun, the air is warm and thick with moisture. As we had already gone through customs in Tijuana, we breezed down the path of “domestic flights” and were on the curb and to our pre-arranged shuttle driver who would take us to the Westin Marriott where our friends Vicky and Eileen have timeshares.

Once we checked into our room, it was not difficult to find our friends who had arrived before us, as we had a perfect view of them at the poolside bar. Let the festivities begin!

With all of us having had an earlier than usual morning, festivities would have to be postponed to the morning, a sad sign that we ARE getting older (or is it wiser?), but not without sharing a drink, a bite and a quick game of “catch up”.

Morning brought coffee, a brief shower…of rain, swim suits and a poolside excursion. After a spirited rendition of musical lounge chairs (in search of dry cushioning) we settled into our day of “leisure”.

Noon, required participation in Westin’s water aerobics class with our ambassador of FUN, Alejandro. This was followed by an aborted effort to win a bottle of tequila for music trivia, of which we couldn’t even cheat our way (via Google) to a point.

I did however prevail at BINGO in the final round, aptly named, “blackout” (where the prize was a 700ml bottle of 1800 Reposado tequila), as it required no skill, and good ole fashion luck!

Birthday girl! Vicky IS 60!

In honor of Vicky’s “major” birthday (in which this trip/gathering was all about), the evening continued with dinner at a remarkable restaurant, La Destileria.

We enjoyed patio dining and sunset

It’s famous for its overwhelming selection of tequila and amazing food.

And as luck would have it, we were treated to unexpected (it’s actually their “off-season”) entertainment in the form of pounding bongos, the entire restaurant singing “Sweet Caroline” (because no one can resist), and fireworks from a barge off-shore, to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s “New York”. And of course, Sandy singing “La Bomba” with the mariachis.

The following day, as we have an “extended stay” with complete kitchens, and an outdoor BBQ access, we decided to walk to the super Mercado for the week’s vittles, so we could save our pesos for touristy excursions and Cabana boy tips.

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*Note first item listed

Wanting to get our day going, and the fact that coffee filtered through a paper towel is just plain awful, we set off fairly early for the market, only to discover, after our cart was filled with libations, that one can not purchase alcohol (outside the resorts) before 11 am. This is not to say that we were out of adult beverages, it’s just that we were trying to be efficient…and planning ahead for the week. Slightly dejected we completed our purchase, sans alcohol, and walked back to the Westin.

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Considering ourselves smarter than the average bear, and not wanting to lug our supplies in the humidity, for a paltry $2, we had our groceries delivered to our suite…eventually. A supposed delivery time of 30 minutes turned into 2.5 hours. Apparently the conversion formula for delivery time is the inverse to that of pesos to the US dollar (divide by 10, multiply by 2). I did the math and it was spot on (divide by 2, multiply by 10). Once our groceries arrived, it was time to meet up with rest of our clan, who were beginning to wonder ‘what the hell happened’ to us, which (for Sandy and I) in itself is not unusual. The remainder of the afternoon was spent between a round-robin of chatter, beverage, swim (actually float) as warm and increasingly blustery (sub hurricane force) winds masked what developed into a distinctly stripped sunburn. The afternoon was capped with a ‘mint challenge’ to see how much (if any) mint we could finagle from the bar(s) for our in-room mojitos, as mint was not available at the Super Mercado. Success required us to “rescue swim” our precious cargo of devilishly acquired mint across the pool. Finally! A much “poo-pooed”, but required, skill from our WSI (Water Safety Instructor) pool lifeguard days of our youth, paid off. Who knew that mint would be the “pay-off”. The day’s vigorous imbibing required a change of dinner plans, to a more “local” setting that did not require negotiating moving vehicles and/or curbs. When our check arrived, Sandy discovered that if you order beers that are supposed to be “on-tap”, and said kegs are empty, its reluctant substitution(s) are “on the house”, which was a pleasant surprise to an already epic day.

The following morning found us poolside again, even though there’s a perfectly warm Gulf of Mexico and white sandy beaches , complete with equally comfortable lounge chairs upon which to recline.

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Westin’s beach amenities

While we have beaches at home, we don’t have recliners poolside with food and beverage service, so we skipped the beach and mainly parked poolside and chatted.

Toward the end of the afternoon, we did manage to explore a Mayan temple just off the hotel grounds.

Truth be told, for at least one day, in our abject and frankly blissful laziness, we did exit our supremely comfortable lounge chairs for a memorable excursion to the Isla de Mujeres.

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This required a scary cab ride to the ferry that takes one to the island just off our loungy location. Isla de Mujeres is similar to that of Catalina Island at home, in that no motorized vehicles are allowed. In order to circumnavigate the island we rented well worn golf carts reminiscent of our collective childhood visits to Disneyland’s “Auto-topia”, where we got to drive backfiring putt-putt cars with the pedal to the metal…in a circle.

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With the exception of us, the “car” and our “circle” being bigger, it WAS just like that.

We circumnavigated the island rather efficiently, with a stop at Punta Sur (a Mayan archeological site on the southern most portion of the island).

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Here, after paying an entrance fee (and for toilet paper) we wandered about, gazing at sculptures placed throughout the bluff top, numerous photogenic reptiles and the cyan blue sea in search of sea turtles.

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After a quick beverage (to “hydrate”), we continued our exploration. While we did not have time for any real touristy (and expensive) activities, we did happen upon a unique lunch spot run by expats.

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In addition to delicious food, they make amazing one-of-a-kind pieces of art that I would have loved to have purchased. Problem being, I am trying to downsize as it is, and while I appreciate their skill and artistry, I just couldn’t justify the purchase(s).

Once lunch as over, our two putt-putts parted ways. Seeing as Vicky is the oldest of our “crew”, she needed to head back toward the ferry, so she could take a nap on the beach. (At least that’s how I remember it…lol) Sandy, Eileen and I, decided we needed to snorkel and look for colorful fish and turtles.

We found a nice cove, near our lunch stop, to pull off the pot-hole riddled road and try our luck.

The sand was grainy and coarse beneath our feet, with pourus coral reefs that stretched from the high tide line into the infinite sea. Wearing our water shoes, we made our way into the tepid water, switched out to swim fins, and donned our masks to see what we could see…in the sea. We were treated to brightly colored tropical fish through crystal clear water. Cognizant of the obvious current than ran not far from shore, and the fact that we also had a ferry to catch (and our “go-carts” to return), we did not venture out too far, or too long. Refreshed, we clamored back into our adult sized putt-putt car, and crossed our fingers that it would start. I conveniently left my mask/snorkel and fins at the beach, and with no spare time to return to get them, there they stayed.

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After several “passes”, after missing proper turns down one-way streets, we returned our ride and met up with Vicky and Co just in time for the 5pm ferry.

Fairly exhausted and slightly burnt, after a quick bite to eat, it was an “early” evening.

The following day we completed our water aerobics with Alejandro and those of us that still remained, spent most of the rest of the day poolside and/or in the hotel spa…because we could…and well, they let us.

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With another epic decade complete, it was time to head home. Many thanks to our “elder”- Vicky for her rally cry, “It’s my 60th birthday. I’m going to spend it in Cancun. You are welcome to join me.” And so, just like her 50th (in Vegas), we did. I hope we are all around for her 70th. I hear France is nice in May…and, they make pretty good wine.

With any luck we’ll be off lock-down by then!

Posted in Cancun, fun with friends, Mexican Resorts, Mini Adventures, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

All dressed up…No place to go

So I started a draft of this post the begining of March, and got a little busy.  Today I returned to it and my how things have evolved!

Worried

We are a little less than a month out from what our scheduled CDT start date. We are ready, except for the preparation of resupply boxes. We are a bit concerned about what we initially thought was all this “hullaballoo” about COVID-19 and how it will affect our travel plans. (Remember this was several weeks ago, and the purpose of this post is to show how quickly things have evolved)

Our plans are to fly into El Paso where my father will pick us up. We have three concerns:

  1. Will there be travel restrictions by then? If there is an “outbreak” in the city or county we live in, and we are NOT sick, would we still be allowed to travel.

        So as of March 16, 2020 the CDC has issued a “15 Days to Slow the Spread”.  New                   Mexico followed suit by telling people who newly enter NM to self-isolate for 14 days             upon entry. California has issued a “Stay home” order that so far is set for “indefinitely”

2.  If flights were cancelled, could we drive to my father’s? Would Arizona and New                 Mexico let us “in”?

         New Mexico has for all practical purposes told people NOT to come, and if you do, you          need to self-isolate for 14 days.  And, BTW no resturants will be open and hotels will              only be allowed to be a 1/2 capacity. * A friend told me that she was passing through a          “corner” of NM to get gas, she felt like a “leper” while filling up.

3.  What if we travel via our original flight plans and we pick up “something” on the               flight? Seeing as my father is going through cancer treatments, I would hate to                    expose him to something that may further compromise his immune system.

        We have cancelled our flight for these exact concerns and have made preparations to           drive.

More than an In-COVID-19-yence

So most of the thru-hiking community is in a quandary, with most (if not ALL) cancelling or putting their 2020 thru-hikes on hold.  We are in the “on-hold” team, as we have the luxury of options.  There are still people currently on all of the triple crown trails (PCT, CDT, AT) following their “dreams”.

We are in a constant state of flux.  Our son, who works in the emergency services sector is living with us until June.  Because of his job he is in contact with people who may or may not be “sick”.  Most people are still NOT fully practicing proper and appropriate social distancing, especially our teens and 20-somethings. This requires us to be ever so diligent, especially since our daughter has a compromised immune system, suffering from Chronic Lyme disease.  Luckily she has her own apartment and is on home “quarentine” per doctor’s orders.  But then, for her, that doesn’t exactly pay the bills.

I have to admit that we initially thought this COVID-19 to be a bit over-hyped, and had planned on starting our thru-hike, no matter what.  Those plans are out the window…for now.

I am wondering how this post would/will look 30 days from now.

Stay tuned…

 

Posted in Backpacking, Calilfornia, Chronic Lyme Disease, Continental Divide Trail, Lyme Disease, thru-hiking, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 2 Comments

2Moremiles…and TheTrek.co

I have yet to figure out how to copy the text of the posts I have made on thetrek.co.  It’s the luddite in me.  So, what I propose to do, is create a 2moremiles post with a link to the articles I have posted in The Trek.  So far I have completed four posts.  Below are the links to the four I have posted.

March 18, 2020 – Insert Trail Name…Here

March 10, 2020 – HIIT me Baby One More Time

February 27, 2020 – Sweating the Small Stuff, Thru-hiker Style

February 21, 2020 –  Continental Divide Trail 2020

More posts to come…

Posted in Backpacking, Continental Divide Trail, thru-hiking, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

We’re having a thru-hike…Again!

It’s been nearly 6 years since Paul and I completed our thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). In-between those years we have walked the Camino de Santiago, the Chilkoot Trail, the Trans Catalina Trail (TCT)…again, climbed Mount Whitney via a western approach and Half Dome starting from the Cathedral Lake trail head.

We’ve hiked the Aravipa Canyon and the Grand Canyon of the Tuolomne River. We even had an aborted attempt to hike from Mammoth Lakes to Tuolomne Meadows following a late season snow storm. With the exception of the Camino, which took 33 days, most of our hiking adventures have not lasted much more than a week. The longing for a “proper” thru-hike has been an itch that needs scratching. This year, it is getting scratched, and scratched so deep that it will probably need stitches.

Continental Divide Trail…here we come!

Weighing in at 3000 miles (+/- a few 100 miles for detours and/or alternates), it’s claim to fame is it rugggedness and “pick your adventure” kind of thru-hike. Somewhere between 100-300 people attempt to thru-hike the CDT each year.  For 80%, this is NOT their first thru-hike.  Two-thirds of the hikers are male and a little over 50% fall into the 25-34 age bracket.  Just under 12% fall into our age range. (stats courtesy of HalfwayAnywhere’s 2019 CDT hiker survey)

We reckon it will take us somewhere between 5-6 months to complete this trail. It is one of three National Scenic Trails that make up what it known as the Triple Crown of thru-hiking. Our direction will be NOBO (Northbound), and may (most likely based on snow conditions) include a bit of a “flip” here and there. We are up for a challenge, but we don’t want to kill ourselves.

Our shuttle tickets from Lordsburg NM to the border (Mexican) monument at Crazy Cook have been purchased. We are making the final preparation/selection of the gear we will be using (initially). Next is a plane ticket to El Paso Texas where my father will pick us up and then deliver us to Lordsburg NM.

Looking forward to “built-in” Trail Angels

We are looking forward to “built in” Trail Angels, seeing that my parents live in New Mexico and are hearty travelers. They have graciously agreed (so far) to mail out the four resupply packages we will be sending ourselves for New Mexico. If we are lucky they might even deliver them in person, or better yet meet us along the way for some “trail magic”. It will be nice to share this adventure with them…in person! They themselves are quite the campers, but in a glamping cabover camper sort of way…now.

Double duty blogging, and adventures in Social Media

In addition to keeping y’all updated on this adventure, I have expanded my Social Media platforms.

Instagram: 2moremilesadventures  (Only because this guy, H T Dolinka with 0 posts and 5 followers) still hasn’t responded to my request for him to release his Instagram URL  of 2moremiles… for my use)

YouTube: OneSpeed 2moremiles

And…wait for it…I have been selected to be a 2020 Blogger by The Trek, an online hiking “magazine” that covers ALL things related to long distance backpacking. I have already posted my first post, that you can see here, and follow as well. 

This site (2moremiles) will be a more day to day overview, and hopefully will include more than a few video posts from my YouTube channel as well.  The posts for The Trek will be content/subject, and “special feature” driven. As you can see, there are lots of platforms to keep up with, which keep my thumbs pretty busy.

I have no doubt that this CDT thru-hike will be filled with many a memorable moment, stunningly gorgeous sights, and of course a plethora of mis-adventure.  Join us as we push our bodies and make memories…even if it is out of morbid curiosity.  

In the meantime…we train.

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Posted in Backpacking, Continental Divide Trail, thru-hiking, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Utah hunt

(October 16-24, 2019)

Even though we put in every year for the rifle mule deer hunt in southern Utah, it seems that we’ve gotten into a three year cycle of getting drawn…but not all together, which was a bummer this year. Paul, Brian and I were successful in the draw, but Kenny, Matt and Bob, were not. This year, our group would hunt “separately” for the most part. We arrived in the early afternoon at Red Creek Reservoir (7,800 ft), two days before opener. This year’s hunting plan was to hike up to “my meadow” (2+ miles, with nearly 2000ft of elevation gain ) and camp for at least two nights, with hopes of bagging a big buck opening day…or at least day two. img_20191020_095921520_hdrThis required a total of two full trips, the first being to carry up 6 gallons of water and our bear canister with 3 days worth of food (just in case). The next trip, our tent, sleeping bag and hunting gear/paraphernalia. Of course, each time up and back we saw deer (to include bucks), so we were excited.

Brian, however would not be joining us in the meadow, but would hunt in another spot.  He would however, be in “earshot” and/or radio contact in the event that either of us required assistance.  Ideally, to haul in a big buck!  He would stay at “base camp” in his new camper, which based upon the dusting of snow we received the day before opener would be certainly warmer than the tent we would be using.  After a few unforeseen delays (…namely, Brian’s Ford diesel not wanting to start in the cold), we march up the “hill” early Friday afternoon, taking frequent breaks, to keep from sweating, as we know it will not be getting any warmer.

We set up camp with enough daylight to scout around…just a bit to decide where we will sit and glass opening morning. We are set up in a small clearing, surrounded by a layer of snow and a dense stand of narrow trees.  As we are at nearly 9600 ft in elevation, the temperature drops to a chilling 34 in no time, well before hiker midnight (9pm)! Paul set his alarm for an early rising, so as to be in place before the sun rises on this elevated plateau. After a fitfully cold night (24 degrees), Paul’s alarm was a welcome sound (I can’t believe I’m saying this!) We dressed quickly and headed out to our chosen spots, each with hopes (and expectations) of nailing a “monster buck”.  Remarkably, we had this place all to ourselves. In the still of the morning I rest my back against a fortuitously placed log and watch the edges of the forest for a deer (any deer) to step out into the warmth of the rising sun. My nose runs and my breath clouds before me, nearly obscuring my vision, as I exhale. I smile, noting that currently the gusting wind is working in my favor. But just as “prime time” breaks (that moment when the morning sun starts to paint the edges of the meadow), the wind shifts, and propels my scent directly to where I have been watching. Shit! I hoped that Paul was better situated. Turns out he wasn’t. Opening morning turned into a bust, and after sitting for an hour longer than we really needed to, we headed back to camp for breakfast. After breakfast, we decide to explore and search for fresh definitive deer sign(s), as opposed to the plethra of elk signs we had been seeing. We followed a well used game trail in hopes of reaching an upper isolated meadow that we have been jonesing over for years. We soon realise why this meadow (via Google Earth) is still isolated. The forest closed in quickly, becoming dense and steep as we wove our way toward the clearing. The snow became more frequent and deeper. This exploration became a bit of a workout.  We can not help but begin to sweat under the layers of our camo.  We find that no matter how carefully we carry our rifles, the muzzles (or butts) occasionally get caught on an outstretched branch, halting our progress and generally eliciting a profane word, or two. There is nothing quiet about our approach, and we realize the futility of this endeavor. While we know we would be set up well for an evening hunt at this isolated meadow, we also realize that we are not properly prepared.  As it would be an evening hunt, we would most likely have to spend the night, as it would be impossible to drag any sizeable animal (let alone our sorry asses) back to camp safely in the dark, and/or successfully through the tangle of trees we have threaded. This will have to wait for another year. Dejected, we turn back. In no time, however, we are thankful for our decision, as we discover that while making our way back from whence we came, even with daylight, it was almost more difficult than bushwacking our way up.

Once down, a nap in the dirt is in order. It’s funny to think that, absent a hunting trip or a long distance backpacking trip, we would never think to walk the places we do, let alone plop down on the ground (with no ground cover) and take a nap. Reading the wind, I set up for the evening hunt in another area.

It’s a setup that affords me, if anything, an awesome view and excellent concealment.

My perch is such that I almost feel as though I have folded myself into the backdrop of the forest. Time slows. My senses become heightened, and although I have binoculars to glass the edges of the meadow, I find it easier to catch movement with my naked eye. As the light starts to fade, I sense, and then catch movement across the meadow, to my right. The movement is horizontal, so it is not the wind. I raise my binoculars and study the area closely. Ha! Movement again. Colors and shadows blending artfully enable the deer to travel with ghost like movement.  However, no color or shadow can conceal motion perpendicular to nature. With that, I spy three deer. Their movement is measured and methodical, as the gusting wind has made them rightfully nervous. I steady my rifle, and peer through my scope, dialing it in just enough to ensure a swift and lethal shot. A large bodied doe steps into and through my scope’s reticle. Try as I might, I can not make this doe grow antlers! A second doe does the same. Now for the third. As experience tells me, a trio of deer often includes a buck, and this is no different. He is at least a forked horn, and is legal, so I ready for a shot. (When Paul and hunt together, whoever sees the first shootable buck has to take it…so we have meat in the freezer. After that, only a “monster” buck can be taken) The problem is, that he is not giving me a proper shot. Meaning, if I don’t think I have a sufficiently clear shot, regardless of the size of the animal, I will not take it. If our reason for hunting is to put meat in the freezer, it does no good to miss, or worse yet, wound said animal, only to track it most likely into oblivion, making for some pretty nasty meat, and/or a “waste” of a life. I wait patiently, willing him to “step on the X”. He steps forward briefly, then turns uphill into the shadow of the trees, and for all practical purposes “moons” me as he quickly steps from the thicket of trees to behind a large juniper tree, swishing his tail. Bastard! In that moment he steps, I see he is a bit smaller bodied than the two does he is hanging with. While he is a young buck, he is no dummy, and has earned another day, for this 10 day season. I lower my rifle, shake my head and smile. I applaud his skill and instincts.

The sun sets, and I head back to our tiny Outpost. As I have heard no shot(s), it appears that everyone in the general area has been skunked as well. Paul and I share the evening’s rehydrated vittles and with the temperature dropping quickly we retreat to the warmth of our down sleeping bags, hoping the next day will find success. Up early again, we skip breakfast and coffee. Paul heads to a new spot and I go back to my first morning’s spot and hope the wind stays in my favor. Prime time comes, and BLAM! I hear a shot. I wait for a moment and then radio Paul, “please tell me that was you!”. “Affirmative”, was the reply. Where he was sitting, he saw a large, almost trophy size buck, and had moved into a position that would give him a clear window to take a shot.  The buck, in fact, moved into that window as Paul suspected, but only gave him a nano seconds worth of shooting time, which, had he pulled the trigger would have hit the buck in the butt.  However, whilst dejected and wondering how best to pursue the large buck, he saw a decent sized, shootable forked horn, step fully into the sunlight on a knoll no more than 50 yards away.  This particular buck gave him more than plenty of time to actually wrestle with the decision of whether to take him or not.  Fully aware of our “house rules”, he took the shot…namely, because he had to, as rules are rules. Confident he bagged the freezer buck, and that it would be any easy blood trail to follow, we met midway in the meadow and headed back to camp to eat breakfast and break down our camp. We considered leaving camp up, and coming back up the next morning, but for some reason Paul’s achilles was bothering him, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to go back up to freeze my ass off all alone.  Besides, we had freezer meat now.

All packed up, we easily found Paul’s deer. While we would have preferred a heartier buck, it was meat for the freezer all the same. In no time we had him wrapped like a burrito in our plastic deer sled, and made our way down the rugged trail to the reservoir. Holy Shit was it an arduous haul! Good thing this wasn’t a monster buck. Last time we did this there was snow on the ground, which made for easy work. This time, the sharp, square rocks ate at our sled, shredding the thick plastic as we went.  The jagged opening(s) acted like dozer blades funneling dirt and rocks into the sled, adding unecessary weight to our drag.

(And by he time we got down, it looked like this…totally trashed.) Remembering that we had flattened and packed out our emptied gallon water jugs, Paul cleaverly slid them between the deer’s torso and the holes/gashes of the sled in an effort to save the hide from being “sanded” off.  Eventually, we got to camp thanks to Brian, his brawn and is truck, and discovered that Paul’s ingenuity had worked.  The hide was intact.

Brian, photo-bombing Paul’s deer

Back at camp, we hang our freezer buck to “season”, on the buck pole.

And as it was more than cold enough, we let him hang for a few days before I got to butchering him (the deer).

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Once home, the final processing takes place, some of which, to include venison brats.

I continued to hunt in the lower areas for a few more days, with no success.  Finally, I convinced Brian to join me on an early morning (headlamp) trek to the upper meadow, for one last try.  As he had seen as much as I had, which was NOTHING, there was nothing to lose, except a few pounds or so, via the trek.  Morning came, and just about went.  Then, BLAM!…and BLAM again.  Sadly, neither shot was mine.  Brian, on the other hand was successful, and so began the long hard slog down the .001 grit trail, back to camp.  The haul was no less daunting than the three days before. And as with our sled, Brian’s was no match for the trail as well.  In many ways I was glad it was Brian who had been successful: (1) It wasn’t my deer that destroyed Brian’s sled; (2) I didn’t have to wrestle the deer down the trail (Actually, Brian being the consumate gentleman, and frankly stronger of the two of us, would have most likely done the lion’s share of dragging the deer, had I been the successful one); (3) We were out of cooler space to store another butchered deer…although I’m sure we would have come up with some way to solve that “problem”.

When we finally reached the reservoir, a young man who was fishing, offered the use of his ATV to haul Brian’s deer the rest of the way to truck where Paul was waiting, with cold beers, and a warm truck.  And with that, we were homeward bound.

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Posted in Exploring Utah, fun with friends, Hunting Adventures, Mini Adventures, Mule Deer Hunting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,

A little backlogged

So I’m a little back logged with the posting of some adventures this past year. I have two more to finish writing up, and had hoped to post them before the end of the year, but alas I have been sidetracked once again. Recently, I went to watch my brother race his car (1968 Chevelle) at the Irwindale Dragstrip.img_20191222_153911797 and decided that rather than write about it, I would video it, mainly because I am trying out a video editor app for my phone, (PowerDirector, by Cyberlink, for Android), and am considering interspersing our blog with a Vlog or two when we set out on the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) in April of 2020.

Shooting the video clips was fun, but the production end of it was a whole other learning curve that sucked me down rabbit hole of perfection. So far, the sweat equity is a little excessive, in that we thought it might be “easier” than thumb pecking at the end of each days hiking, or adventure. Thus far, I have found that uploading to YouTube from my phone takes a bit longer with our crappy WiFi, so here’s that also. But it’s worth a try, and it’s about time that I apply the degree that I earned in college. Luckily, we (meaning mostly me) have some time to practice before we commit to straight Vlogging or more likely a combination of VLog and Blog, or continue just blogging. In any event, we’ll be posting a video (training) or two as we go.

So without further rambling, here’s the video I made of my brother’s recent race day. Let me know what you think. (I didn’t mean to post the video with this thmbnail look by my brother, but then this pays him back for when we were kids and he emptied my piggy bank…AND raided my coin collection… to buy a hamster!)

…Paul is researching drones now. Argh!

Posted in 1968 Chevelle, Continental Divide Trail, Drag racing, Irwindale Dragstrip, Road Trips, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments