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2006  Alaska Trip Journal to Oklahoma   |    Page 2   |    Page 3   |    Page 4
 Page 4

 Day 13 55,054 (208 miles traveled) gas 2.48

I didn't get started until 10:30 today, I guess I was starting to hit burnout and needed to slow down a good bit for a couple of days, so that is what I would do. I would take the scenic route, and definitely the roads least traveled. Those roads are a series of logging roads that lead from Post Falls at the back end of Hauser Lake up over the top of a ridge behind the lake, then down into Twin Lakes, skirts by Spirit Lake and then a logging road takes you out to the Coeur D'Alene/Sand Point highway. From there you cross onto Bunco Road, another main line logging road (327) that takes you over a couple of saddles in the Coeur D'Alene mountains and you pass by the backside of Lake Pond Oriel, one of the largest and most scenic lakes in Idaho. 327 will then drop down the east side of the mountains into Clark Fork. From there you take another logging road to the intersection of the Vermillion behind trout creek and the Silver Butte Road, which takes you over Silver Butte Pass in the Cabinet Mountains, and down into the Fisher River Valley. I had done it several times in years gone by, so I thought I would do it again for nostalgia's sake. I could do it in 3 hours on a dirt bike, so I figured a couple of days with my pickup and little trailer.

So by noon I was off and running. I headed up behind Houser Lake and got the 5 miles to the top of the ridge , and someone had put up a gate with a lock on it, so I had to turn around and go out to the highway and enter the logging road system at Athol, which was a little south of where I wanted to enter, but what the heck, they all wind up in the same place sooner or later. This series of roads was little more than good goat trails, and I eased along at 10 to 20 mph for several hours until I finally hit 327, which is a good road. The map I had sucked. It simply was not real specific and left out many of the minor logging roads, and I was south of the map completely. I was lucky though. I found a hunter who headed me in the right direction, and later found a guy that works for fish and game and he gave me a current map. That was a lifesaver. As dusk arrived, I had managed to get on the ridge behind Lake Pond Oriele,and just set up camp there to wait out morning. I was at about 8,000 feet so it got pretty chilly, into the 20's,but it was

Ridge behind Lake Pond Oriele

  absolutely gorgeous. It seemed you could almost touch the stars, and the moon was full and almost a perfect peach color.

After getting camp set up, I fixed dinner and finished off part of the trip Journal, which took until well after midnight.

All during the night cars kept going by, which was completely puzzling as I was in the middle of no where 40 miles from any town.

When morning came it was gorgeous. I watched the sky turn from red to orange and then gradually lighten the sky as the sun rose. Lake Pond Oreile was below me, and an awesome site.

 Lake Pond Oreile from Ridge

I was once again underway by 8 AM, and headed for Clark Fork some 30 miles away to the north and east. I found a group of people at the next intersection of the Bunco Road and soon found out why all the traffic, today was opening day of elk season.

By 10 AM I was finally getting on the downhill side dropping into Clark Fork Montana.

Above Clark Fork
Closer
Clark Fork River

I opted out of taking the Silver Butte road this time. I was beat up enough already, so I took the highway route 46 to Troy, following the Yaak River, passing by Bull Lake and then to Hwy 2 to Libby.  

Bull Lake

I took one little detour to get a good look at the backside of the Cabinet Mountains, they are some of the most beautiful mountains in the country, and I had spent many a day exploring their wonders when I was younger.

Cabinet Mountains


I arrived in Libby just after 5 PM and searched out the first RV campground I could find, the two bits campground, took a shower which I badly needed, fixed a little dinner and hit the rack. By 8 PM I was dead to the world.

 Day 14-18 55,205 (183 miles traveled)

These days were spent visiting old friends, Billy Vincent, and Mike Grenier were guys I rode races with many years ago and I hadn't seen them is 30 years, so we had a lot of catching up to do. Ivan Sena, which was one of our group has moved to Wasilla Alaska, so I will catch-up with him next year when I go home.

I spent a good bit of time just running around on the old logging roads visiting some of my favorite spots, going to Libby Dam which wasn't finished when I left Libby, and spending a great deal of time with Len Howell a local outfitter and hunting guide I have known for many years. Saturday I went with them on horseback 12 miles back into the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness area to tear down a hunting camp they had set up for elk bow hunting season. The Cabinet Mountains are some of the most beautiful mountains in the world, and yet few people that aren't fairly local don't even know about them. The entire area s loaded with backcountry lakes that are teeming with fish, and yet are rarely fished. The terrain is very unforgiving, and extremely steep sop it takes a good deal of effort and fitness to hike in it.

I hadn't sat on a horse since 2000, so in a way it was fun, but I was apprehensive because horses were the cause, or at least the trigger to many of my problems, but it was a blast. God knows I was so sore Sunday morning my hair even hurt, but hey, that is the price of having fun.

On the way back into Bear Lake I had stepped off the trail to take a picture, tripped on a strand of barb wire that was just off the ground and did one nose dive 5 feet down the bank. I had a camera in one hand and my glasses in the other, so I just had to hit with whatever got there first. In this case it was the point of my shoulder, and I badly separated it. Donna one of my friends who had come with us, who was the hunting lodge EMT/ camp cook gave it a good tug and it snapped back in. It took two 800 mg ibuprofen before I could stand to put enough pressure on it to get back on the horse, but I managed to tough it out. Needless to say, I was glad when we got out of the mountains. I never drink whiskey, but I drank most of a fifth of EJ Brandy I had for the last eleven years  when I got back to the ranch.

I spent the night at the ranch, which was mostly sleepless from my shoulder. After getting around Sunday morning and having breakfast with Len, Donna, and Steve the wrangler I left for points south and Colorado to go elk hunting on the 19th. I managed to get as far as Helena, where I pulled up for the night at the Clark County Fairgrounds  to get this episode of the journal published. It is now 1:30 A.M., and it will be a bit yet before I can hit the sack

Cherry Creek
Bald Mountain
Kootney River
Libby Dam
Lake Kukanusa
Donna our Camp Cook
Bear Lake
Me at Bear Lake Overlook
Baby Bear Lake
Ranger and Hardy
Leaving Bear Lakes
Me and Blue
Day 19 55,994 (miles traveled 699) gas 2.31

Today sucked. I have been traveling in light snow and snow and rain mixed all day. To go along with that when I got pictures developed in Libby afew days ago, I left my credit card there and didn't discover it until I was in Helena. I called them, but they had already reported it to my bank and the card was canceled. To make matters worse, my other card refused to work, so I stopped in Bozeman to use the Internet and get the phone number of my bank to find out what was wrong, and it was a simple thing. I had never used it, so just had to go to an ATM and check balance to activate it…felt like an idiot. While I was doing that someone inquired who's truck and trailer was that out front, because it just rolled down the hill and jack knifed putting a dent in the side of my truck and breaking off the propane tank, but at least it didn't hit anyone else.

I arrived in Billings about dusk, and I had had enough excitement for one day, so I decided to hole up for the next day and wait out the snowstorm, which was to dissipate by tomorrow.
Pictures to follow when I get a chance
 Day 20

I left Billings about 10:30 and the snow was rapidly melting. After hitting the highway towards Hardin the snowplows had done there job, and the roads were from slushy to wet by noon and I was able to make good time until I got to
Gillette Wyoming, then the skies turned threatening again, but I figured I could make it the 100 miles south to Douglas before it got to bad. I was right, but the snow was coming down when I got there. So I called it a day and set up camp in the Douglas City Park, which has hot showers and is free to the weary traveler. I knew the town pretty well since we used to run horses there many years ago, and it hadn't grown much so I went to town and the College Bar which had been in existence since 1906, and was the local hunters hangout. There were some guys in there from Minnesota deer hunting, and had managed to knock down 7 mule deer that day and were celebrating and preparing to return home the next day. By 11 P.M. I was off to bed in the middle of a snowstorm. I hope it clears by morning.

Day 21

Luck was with me, the morning broke clear just as it had the day previous and I chugged along to Denver where the traffic was a nightmare, and it took almost two hours to get through traffic. I made it to Colorado Springs about dusk, and figured out I needed to buy more hunting equipment; I had forgot it in Alaska.

I finally got to Aguilar where I was to meet Mike Shea about midnight and just set up camp for the night. I would call Mike in the morning.

Day 22
The Ranch
Click to Enlarge All Pictures

Mike came and got me around 8 A.M. and we proceeded on out to the ranch which lies 10 miles or so down a dirt rode nestled in the Pinion and Juniper trees. It is a gorgeous setting for the beginning of an elk hunt, so we all sat up and visited until late then off to bed

Day 23
                 
L to R Shawn and Chuck Gibson, Larry Rachella, Mike Shea and myself     and Kurt the picture taker Rt photo

The rest of the crew arrived today, Larry Rachella from Minnesota and his son-in-law, and Kurt. We are still waiting on two more who arrive tomorrow. We spent the afternoon in Trinidad getting licenses and visiting the land-owner who's ranch we would be hunting on, and taking a tour of the Zele Ranch. It is Such a beautiful place. Mike Shea cooked up enchiladas for dinner and  once again we sat up until 11 PM visiting and it was off to bed.

 Day 24

Today was check the zeros on all the rifles and then into Trinidad for lunch at the Main Street Café, and it allowed me a chance to update the web page.

After lunch we returned, and killed the afternoon with another tour of the ranch to get familiar with the lay of the land and road structure. After that it was into the hot tub, having afew drinks and socializing. By 9 P.M. we were all in bed, but sleep didn't come easily for me, with anticipation of opening day.

     

Typical Terrain Around Zele Ranch

 Day 25

What was to be promising for opening day weather wise was a disaster. A blowing mixture of rain and wet snow mixed with suddenly dropping temperatures made it very difficult at best. I was stationed on top of a rocky ridge, with an excellent view of the meadows, but the weather kept the elk in the deep forest bedded down.

By noon, Larry and the guys came by to pick me up and we called it quits for the morning, and headed into town for lunch and try to come up with a plan for the evening should the weather break. By 4 PM, with a break in the weather and mostly cloudy with moments of sunlight we were on our way back out, convinced we were in the right places this morning, we resumed where we had left off, but it was a fruitless effort. At dark everyone was gathered up again, and went back to the ranch for dinner and to contemplate the next days activities and compare notes from the day. By 10 PM I was in the bed dog tired, from scaling that rocky ridge. My fitness level was at about zero, so I was in some pain, and it was a tough night.

Day 26

Today would be a good day for Chuck Gibson. For 5 years he had made the 1200 mile trek to the ranch looking for that one big bull elk, which until now had always managed to elude him, that would not be the case today, his dream would come true.

We started off the day exactly as we had the day before. I scaled the rocky ridge, and for some reason it was much easier the second day, although carrying a pack and rifle up the mountain gave me all I wanted. After sitting all day and glassing the terrain repeatedly, I still had found nothing moving, so it made for a long day.

Chuck, Shawn, Kurt and Larry were walking the ridges afew miles back in hoping to push something my way or at least get a shot at one. At around 4 PM shots rang out, and moments later Chuck was on the walkie-talkie radio telling us he had killed a bull, and asked us to come give a hand when shooting hours had ended, which we all agreed to.. On the radio it all sounded rather nonchalant, but in reality Chuck was in seventh heaven, and sort of a mental basket case. I didn't know this was his first big bull, I just knew he hunted there regularly.

When I caught up with him, and asked him specifically what it was really like. He stated he was shaking so bad he missed the entire elk the first shot from like 200 yards, composed himself and the big bull just stood there for a second shot, which was dead on the money, and hit him in the neck. It is debatable as to what he was aiming at.<G> he flew down the mountain, as on a wire and doesn't even remember the scrub oak that tears at your skin just walking through it. Asked how he felt at the moment Chuck stated: "just like a 16 year old boy who just got his first piece of ass"...<G>

That is when all the fun began. Chuck informed us we could come up this two-track ATV trail, and it would be the easiest pickup in our lives. Kurt unloaded the Yamaha Rhino ATV (known as ERV Elk Recovery Vehicle) and Larry, Shawn, Kurt, Chuck and myself piled in to go get this big bull. What started out an overgrown two-track trail, after we found it, quickly became a one-track game trail, then a no track scrub oak thicket complete with 3 foot over hanging branches that whipped back as the ERV cleared them that we just busted through. To make matters worse there were off camber ditches that we battled through for what seemed like an hour. Larry myself and Shawn were standing up riding in the back of the ERV being whipped to death by the scrub oak, then on one turn, one of those off camber right hand turns, the ERV lurched and acted like it was going to turn over and I sort of stepped out on the ground, but as I touched ground with my left foot the ERV lurched back to the right catching my right ankle on the tailgate, and kind of whipped me into the air where I promptly landed flat on my back. I was laughing so hard I almost had tears in my eyes. Everyone thought I was hurt, but when it became apparent I wasn't they too were laughing. To make matters worse we hadn't gone another quarter mile and it happened again, but this time I was flat ass bucked off the ERV and landed flat on my ass, and again it was a good case for a laugh at my expense.

We finally found the bull elk; a nice 5X5 bull and Chuck finished cleaning him. He had done all he could with his leatherman knife, Chuck had given his hunting knife to Shawn, and Shawn had left it at the truck before we came to fetch the bull, so I loaned him mine and the job was completed pretty quickly.

Chuck and the bull elk

We had left the lights on the ERV on to help Chuck see to finish cleaning the bull, and when it came time to move the ERV to load the elk, the battery didn't have enough juice to start it. Here we were a mile or so off the road and away from the truck and any chance of a jump-start, with a dead ERV and a dead bull elk. No guns, since they were left in the truck, and bears and mountain lions in the neighborhood. Larry had one of those portable jump starter batteries in the truck, so Kurt and Larry headed off to the truck to get it. They had gone no more than afew hundred yards and the ERV sprung back to life, so Chuck went and got Larry and Kurt to help load the elk and save the walk back to the truck. While once again trying to position the ERV to load the elk, the ERV croaked and died once again. We tried in vain to get it to fire and finally gave up, and Larry and Kurt once again headed to the truck for the jump starter. It took the better part of an hour for them to complete the trip and return. Chuck stated we are gonna try starting ERV one more time, so as Kurt and Larry got within ten feet of us, Chuck hit the key and it roared to a start. Everyone was having a good laugh about it, and Kurt was just shaking his head in disbelief after having carried the jump starter in his backpack the mile or so back from the road.

The next encounter was rather funny, five of us couldn't get the elk in the ERV bed, because it was to big and to heavy. So after much thought, and after Chuck rejecting the idea we should just quarter it up, they decided to just drag it out of the woods, but keep his head off the ground as Chuck wanted to mount it when he got home.

Loading the Bull
Notice Shawn Laughing...we all were

With this in mind we all gave it the old heave ho, and had the elk in the ERV his rack touching the cab, and the rest draped the length of the bed and spilling out onto the ground. We happened to have a 100 foot section of nylon ¾” winch rope and with it lashed the elk to the cab of the Rhino, tied its front and back feet together did a dally around his middle and tied it off to the cab of the ERV and proceeded to head out of the woods and through the scrub oak thicket. With all the feet tied together Shawn kind of used his hind legs for a rudder to steer the elk with as Kurt guided the ERV through the maze of scrub oak, ditches, and meadows. We had to stop a couple of times to redo the tie job, and have a good laugh, as the elk was heavy, and the nylon rope was stretching. After an hour or so we finally were out to the road and the trailer where we reloaded the ERV, then all of us struggled to get the elk on the trailer behind ERV, and tied its head up so it wouldn't drag the ground and gently eased our cargo back to the ranch.

Had we chosen to go to Trinidad at this point with the bull all tied up with 100 feet of rope, it surely would have made the front page of the redneck gazette.

It was nearly 1 AM when we arrived back to the ranch, and a dinner of pheasant curie awaited us. After eating dinner, drinking a beer or two and laughing about the events of the night, we were off to bed at about 3 AM.

Day 27

It was a really late morning since we were so late getting to bed, and thy first order of business was getting the bull elk to the meat packers, we would go hunting later that afternoon.

     
Chuck showing his ass and pulling teeth                    Chuck, Mike Shea and wife Joan

Bull at Meat Packers
The afternoon was uneventful in the end. We went back to the same area around 3 PM, and again Chuck, Shawn, Larry and Kurt walked the same course they had the day before, and I was positioned on the same ridge as before. Joan was at the edge of a large meadow several hundred yards from me where she had spotted a couple of cows on the hillside but couldn't get close enough to get a shot off, and Mike was covering a game trail across the road. Again around 4 PM, shots rang out. Kurt had wounded a cow, and he and Larry tracked it until after dark, but couldn't catch up to it. By the evidence they found, it appeared it was a shoulder wound that was rather superficial.

We returned back to the ranch well after dark, and Jerry had made up lasagne for dinner, so we chowed down and visited again with he help of a few beers until 10 PM then it was off to bed once again.

 Day 28

Today would  be a good day. We got going fairly early and once again headed for the same general area as we had been hunting. those that were walking the ridges returned to the same ridges more of less, Sam and Jerry were working the area above the rocky ridge I had been stationed on the past few days, so I was repositioned to the big meadow where Joan had been the night before. It was a really good spot. I could see the entirety of the big meadow, and another meadow that ran perpendicular to it, the hillside to the south and the ridge across the road to the north. We sat and watched all morning, but nothing was moving around that we could see. The guys who were walking were moving elk in front of them, but nothing had showed up so far. At noon we again took a break for lunch and to contemplate a new strategy. We went into Aguilar to the truck stop and had a late breakfast and kicked around what was going on this morning, and still we agreed we were in the right spots, so this afternoon we would return and do exactly the same as we were doing this morning. The elk seem to move a bit better in the late afternoon as they really want to get into the meadows to graze.
The Meadow

We arrived back to our hunting areas around 3 PM, and I took my spot near the old dead tree at the point of the meadow just as I had this morning. It was pretty quiet until around 5 PM. I had spotted a bull on the ridge above the road to the north, but it seemed it was to risky to shoot at that distance. I guessed it was around 500 yards, so I spent some time getting closer, but by that time after working my around the tree lines it was almost dark. I had closed the distance to about 250 yards, but still couldn't see good enough to shoot and be sure the bull was legal, so I passed on the shot, and just hoped he would show up tomorrow.

Just before dark shots again rang out . Mike Shea who had hiked up the ridge between where I was and where I had been stationed in days past, had fallen asleep on the hillside and when he awoke was surrounded by elk . He let a couple go by then shot the next one. Moments later the walkie talkies were alive, and Mike was telling us where he was, and where the cow he had shot was and to bring the trailer, we would be able;le to drive right to them. Wrong again. It was wishful thinking though.

Kurt the ERV driver was instructed to ask me where Mike was as I had been there for the past few days. Well, that was not true. In the dark we headed off to the head of the meadow below the ridge where I had been sitting the first few days, and was informed I was not anywhere near where the elk was, so confused the hunt began for Mike and the elk.

We drove around the fringes of the meadow for what seemed an hour, and dimly in the distance we say a flicker of a light what seemed to be half way up the ridge. We finally got him on the radio, and headed into what seemed to be an opening into a smaller meadow, but it was nothing much more than a goat trail. The light was still visible, so we just headed straight for it ERV hauling the trailer, and all of us piled in the back with it. Again as in the previous elk extraction we ran smack into a scrub oak thicket, and the was no way around it so we charged into it. The trailer got hung up a couple times, and ERV could go no farther forward pulling it, so o we were forced to unhook the trailer and manually turn it around in the scrub oak which grudgingly relented and allowed us to reposition it.

With the trailer removed the ERV was able to finish busting through the brush and into yet another small meadow, which we were able;le to navigate a bit farther. Kurt and Jason took off on foot to meet up with Mike afew hundred yards farther up the mountain, and sometime later came back with Mike and dragging the cow with them. We were able to manhandle this one, as it was much smaller than the bull from the days previous. We finally got the elk ERV and all hands back to the truck , loaded up and used a different route back to the ranch, we used the Arguala Canyon road, what we encountered was nothing less than 100 elk, with several large bulls in the group and several big Mule deer bucks, food for thought for the next day. We were back at the ranch by 9 PM. and the crew was starved .  It was to late to cook so we went into Trinidad and McDonalds for dinner. Of course the way the night had went it was another night of chuckles and rehashing the days events.

We arrived back to the ranch about 11, had a beer or two, made plans for the next day and it was off to bed to end another successful day.


Day 29

Today was to be a bummer, we had decided to go up Arguala Canyon and see if we could locate the elk we had seen the night before. It was after noon when we left, and I was positioned on a ridge overlooking the entire canyon for a half mile either way to the north and south. It was by far the toughest spot I had to climb up to. It was like 60 degrees up and consisted of loose shale and large rocks. At one point I got into a position where I couldn't go up, couldn't go down, and had to almost close my eyes and scoot sideways to get a hand hold to pull my self up on a ledge to continue. One thing was a fact, I was not coming back down this way.

The work traffic from the mines was supposed to cease at three, but it didn't. There was enough people running up and down the road I thought they were going to need a traffic cop, which needless to say screwed up the day. The only bright spot was a group of six turkeys which kept marching six abreast first up one side of the creek, then down the other all online hunting for tidbits of food. This was repeated several times during the afternoon. At dusk, I began casing the area for another way down, and I found one, but it required making switchbacks in the loose shale and scrub oak, just at dark I had reached the road, and across the street was a shape moving not 100 yards away. I couldn't tell if it was a bull or a cow, but it was big unfortunately it was to late to shoot.
My vantage point on the rocky ridge

Larry came shortly afterwards and I was picked up and we were off to the ranch to end the day. It was a big blank for everyone.

Day 30

Today was one of those days we dreaded, it was a proverbial blizzard so we stayed at the ranch and watched movies all day as the snow fell to a depth of 12 to 14 inches with the wind whipping it around pretty bad. It finally stopped snowing about 9 PM


The Morning After

I had brought some moose chunks with me and had the veggies and other ingredients, so with a little added stew meat my stew for one as usual was increased to stew for nine for dinner. After dinner it was again a beer or two and off to bed, except for Mike and Chuck who had to go get ERV and add a snowplow onto it and clear the two mile drive way so we could get out the next morning.

 Day 31

Today was a good day, yeah there was snow up to your knees in places that made walking tofar a chore, but then we were able to find the fresh tracks in the snow from the night before and from early morning.

We were up early and after a little discussion decided togo back towhere we were the first couple of days, the big meadow where I was stationed, Kurt would be on the rocky ridge, Mike would watch the lower meadow where we had seen some cows cross after we had pushed them a couple days ago. Jason was stationed on a high ridge to the north of me, Chuck and Larry were to make the same walk they had made before when Chuck shot his bull. Everyone was in position by about 8 A.M. and the wait began. I was truly hoping the bull I had seen on the ridge across the road would reappear, but my gut feeling was he wouldn't show up, and I was right.  I was in a perfect blocking position if Larry and Chuck pushed anything off the top of the ridges, as was Mike and Kurt.

Around 10 A.M. Larry and Chuck detected they were pushing elk around, but couldn't really tell where they were headed, except west along the top of the ridges. Shortly thereafter a shot rang out, five cows and an illegal spike bull deserted the ridges and came into the meadow where Mike was, and he killed a big cow. Kurt had to come off his ridge to tag it as it was in the middle of the meadow,and it needed done immediately.

Everything was very quiet for the next hour or so, then Jason began shooting, he had a 370 win mag , and had spotted seversl elk on the next ridge but they were so far away he couldn't have hit them with a 105 howitzer, when he came down from his vantage point he checked with a range finder it was around 750 yards, just a lesson in wasting ammunition out of frustration. He can chalk it to lessons learned.

Me, I sat patiently and waited, and never saw a thing, except some pretty scenery and ice crystals.

     

              The meadow with fresh elk tracks              Blade of grass covered with ice next to my tree

With the dead cow at the far end of th emeadow, Jason and I started out mile or so trek to help out with gettingit loaded. In the distance we could see ERV dragging the cow to the truck, so we weren't going to be much use, but it was time to head out anyway. With all theshooting, nothing else was going to happen the rest of the day anyway.

For me it was a pretty good hike, but I madeit in due time. To think back a month ago I couldn't have made it at all because of circulation problems. This little trip had done me so much good physically, although at times I thought I would surely croak,  I guess I will have to continue in the future and not let all this walking and climbing go to waste.

After loading the cow we headed into Aguilar to the truck stop for lunch, and to develop a new ploy for the afternoon, since we had pretty much ran everything out of the country where we were. We decided to go back into Agular canyon later in the day, and pretty much cover the same area we had before, and hoped the trafic was zero today because of the snow. We got set up around 4 PM but it was a fruitless adventure, although Kurt got a chance to watch a sow black bear and a couple of cubs for some time. He thought it might be the ones that had broken into Mikes garage and devoured 125 lbs of elk, and two ducks feathers and all, that he had planned on mounting.

By dark we were done and I was picked up along the road and we headed back into the ranch. since it was our last day of hunting, Chuck decided to take us all out to dinner his treat, so we headed into Trinidad to the White Buffalo for dinner. It is a grand little place, wooden floors, peanut shells amply applied, and absolutely excellent steaks (Thanks Chuck<G>) by 10 P.M. or so we were back at the ranch, had a beer of two and a planning session for next year. I am going to put together a moose hunt in Alaska next year to coinside with our usual fishing trip in September, it should be a great time.

Day 32 56,862  (403 miles traveled) gas 2.46

Today was leaving day, and I had toget going while the ground was still frozen or the two mile driveway would be a preverbial skating rink pulling the little trailer since it was mostly clay, and it would be wet clay with the consistency of ball bearings.

I had little trouble getting started from where I was parked, but had to have a little pull for afew feet to crest the hill by the house. The crust on top was solid, but the ruts underneath had not frozen so I broke through into the mud. Mike trew me a nylon tow rope and in seconds I was free.

I said my goodbyes, and headed on out headed for Krebs okla and a home of sorts in the winter. Along the way, I stopped for lunch in Dalhart Texas and from that point on into Oklahoma I must have counted at least 100 drilling rigs operating, and punching new wells in the ground. I have never seen that many rigs in one area in my life, and those were just what was visible from the highway.

I arrived home at 10 PM, took an hour long shower and hit the sack, a perfect end to a perfect trip. I can hardly wait for next year.

Miles traveled 6029 miles

Gas costs 686.30 (exchange rate not figured into it)



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