Let's not focus on the unsuccessful Elk hunt.... Let's focus on this amazing experience with Nathan.
An hiking trip to White Pine Lake with overnight camping lost in the mountains.
This trip brought us to around 10000 ft elevation.
We packed everything on our backs and headed for the trail that starts at Tony Grove's lake.
After a couple of hours in the frigid morning (walking up the mountain with a flash light by 25 degrees is pretty good), we hit the snow. The trail was really easy at the beginning and as the day light started to make the use of the flash light unnecessary, we were focusing our attention on maybe seeing some wildlife. Finding an Elk now would mark the end of the trip, however, I didn't have much expectation as it seems that elks and wildlife in general tend to avoid areas where i am at. I really need to hook up with some more experienced hunters that will teach me the how and where tricks.
It took us a good 4 hour hike to reach the lake. After numerous breaks, to either fix a back pack or make sure we still had our fingers and toes, we finally reach the campsites.
First things first, we pitch our tent and start gathering wood to build a fire.
It is cold and windy and the ground is a bit frozen. I let you imagine how it is to grab a frozen stone to hammer these stakes down. But when this is done, we can finally sit down and warm up by the small fire and enjoy being in the great outdoors and the wonderful views of this little piece of the mountain that played hard to get.
The sun finally passed the huge mountains surrounding and gives us the opportunity to go take a couple of pictures of the area.
A group of 4 riders came to our site. They were cowboys starting gathering cattle across the mountain. they asked us if there little cowboy rider could come and warm up by our fire that we had just started. These guys are having a tough job.... riding all day up and down the mountain trying to find lost cows....rain or shine. We had a little unexpected chat in the middle of the wilderness.
We had a nice comforting dinner using Nathan's skills to build a cooking fire and grand pa's mess kit that he gave us at Christmas.... One would say Spam luncheon meat and mash potatoes is not a feast meal.... but it was delicious and most welcome. To save our water, we melted snow to make dishes and to get hot water for hot chocolate or other food we had. I'd say if you don't look too close, it is OK but cooking on a fire sure gets a lot of ashes in your food.... minerals right ?
I was kind of handicapped because my feet were wet so I decided to let my shoes dry by the fire.... it is a big no no for next time because the stupid shoes melted down and the sole separated. I was not sure how to fix it and also was worried about the trip back home. Fortunately Nathan was wearing the big mountain boots and his feet were toast and dry so he took care of everything. Including his idea of fixing my shoes by using a red hot piece of metal (aka his pocket knife) to melt down the rubber and glue back the sole.... It did work ....
As soon as the sun passed the mountains it got to really cold temperatures so we packed up everything in the tent and went to bed. Was still day light outside however that was a welcome rest in the comfort of the little green and yellow tent.
We were warm during the night and didn't even feel too much the hard frozen ground under our sore backs.
It snowed during the night and I was worried that the weight of the snow would be too much for the tent so I kept tapping it off. That might have prevented the tent to collapse, but I wonder if the "igloo" effect didn't contribute to a warmer night. And I wish I could take a nice picture of the tent covered in snow.....
It snowed pretty much all the time on our way back. It was hard to get Nathan to get out of bed but I wanted to pack and leave early as i was worried the snow would cover the trail and I didn't really want to get lost... Finally we get packed up and running.... well running, kind of, because that first part of the hike back is a grinder. But slowly and taking numerous break to catch breath we made it to almost the top.... Almost because Nathan couldn't take it anymore and we needed to stop and drop the backpacks to have lunch... or brunch. While snow is melting and water boiling in the small portable stove, we refuel with a pack of mixed fruits. Then we had beef stew (freeze dry food is definitely good) and Nathan finished it off with some Apple cinnamon oatmeal while I was keeping warm with a hot tea
This first part of the trip back was hard especially with wind and snow hitting your face. After that, we were full, warm and happy to go back on the trail.
From there is was really easy. the most difficult part was to stay on the trail as the snow had already covered most of it. But that was just a matter of going down hill and we covered that in record time to get back to Tony grove's and the car where a most welcome pack of red hot cinnamon treats was waiting for Nathan.
There was already quite a bit of snow was already covering the road at Tony Grove's, but nothing that our faithful Santa Fe could tackle....