Bryan and I made sure we ate a hearty breakfast (a cup of granola,
Peanut M&M's, and a glass of gatorade) and hit the trail early for the far
mountain. Bryan had never hiked it before and assumed an additional 2 hours
on top of the Koelzer hike. It would also mean a few extra creek crossings.
No problem, I was pumped and ready.
We got to the part where we would normally start climbing Koelzer's mountain
but we kept going up the river valley. From camp it looked like it was close
behind Koelzer's, but now that we were at Koelzer's it did not look any closer
than when we were back at camp. We continued on.
At least 20 stream crossings (and several hours) later I turned to Bryan and
remarked "this is getting old" he agreed. It was not until late afternoon
when we hit the far mountain and started climbing. I cringed at the thought
of having to come back in the dark. The mountain looked identical to Koelzer's
as we climbed to tree line. An hour after climbing Bryan ran down the hill and
started glassing. He came up some time later and and motioned to me - Thumbs
up! He found a big one. That would be the beginning of a very exciting day:
Bear #1 Stalk
We moved quickly down through the trees in the direction of the river.
Bryan had spotted the bear but lost him in the trees. As we picked our
way down, Bryan spotted him again and pointed him out to me. He was
HUGE! definite PY and probably BC boar. We moved closer as the bear
kept feeding - unalarmed and oblivious to our presence. At 75 yards
the wind was becoming unstable - I cringed as the breeze moved from
my face, to the back of my neck. I knew the stalk was finished. The
bears' nose went up in the air before he woofed and crashed through
|Video of my Day 6 grizzly
1.8 mb Video
- Depending on the size, length, and quality, some videos are available
in various formats. If you are using a dial-up connection at 56k or slower,
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Bear #2 Stalk
||sneaking up on the griz was easy, until he
started coming my way.
||The bear was close, but he suddenly ran off.
We left that area and moved further up the mountain, away from the
river. We split up and would move slowly looking for bears. Movement
caught my eye as I pulled up my glasses. I saw the rump of a grizzly
for a split second before it disappeared behind some trees a few hundred
yards below me. I motioned to Bryan and both of us descended the mountain
to look for the bear. It did not take long before we spotted him again
and Bryan gave me the "thumbs up" - a shooter. I got in position
and videoed the bear while we planned the stalk. The bear was feeding
on the crest of a small hill next to a brushy draw. The wind was blowing
straight up the draw and the gurgling stream masked any sounds I'd make
going through there. I moved into the draw as the bear moved down. I
was 60 yards away as the bear moved in. I tucked myself off of the main
trail and got ready to shoot. I figured the boar to be about seven and
a half feet - a real nice one. He was not dominant and had scars all
over his body from fighting other bears. Still, he looked good to me
and the situation was going to happen. Suddenly the bear woofed, then
crashed through the draw and down into the timber. Bryan and I, puzzled,
looked at each other in amazement. No way he heard us, saw us, or smelled
us we both said. Then Bryan suggested there may be another bigger bear
in the area - we should follow the wind and see. I agreed.
Bear #3 Stalk
||The bear is below me, 30 yards at this point,
I would get a lot closer...
||...until the wind shifts and the bear scents
me - here I am motioning to brian that the wind gave me away and
blew the setup.
Bryan and I crested the hill where bear #2 was feeding. We could clearly
see the remaining hillside from here - but no bear was spotted. We split
up, Bryan went high while I stayed low. 300 yards away I bumped into
a large "nut-dragger" of a boar. He was about as big as the
first bear we stalked and bigger than the 2nd bear that had just ran
off. This was too much - another stalk (3rd) on a different grizzly
within 3 hours. I motioned to Bryan who scrambled down the hill. We
discussed the stalk for a few seconds then moved quickly on the bear.
In minutes I was motioning to Bryan (via hand signals) that the bear
was just 25 yards below me. The wind was consistent but I was concerned
how long it would last. The bear was moving away from us, I needed to
get above, and ahead of him. Bryan disagreed, he wanted me to move downhill
to provide some insurance from a stray thermal. His assumption was right
on, but my concern was for the shot angle - If I moved downhill while
the bear was moving up hill and away, the angle would be severe and
the shot would be longer. So I gambled and went with my instinct. I
moved ahead of the bear - uphill. The bear was feeding in my direction
and was now just behind a tree, and within 20 yards. He kept moving
forward. Any moment he was going to clear the tree and would be 17-18
yards broadside. Then the wind hit the back of my neck. "Crap!"
The bear ran down the hill, breaking branches and woofing the whole
way. Bryan and I discussed our misfortune and the fact that the wind
was so unstable in the mountains. In hindsight the shot setup would
have been perfect had the winds been more stable - but our 3rd opportunity
was blown. We were both pretty upset, it had taken us so long to get
here and then have 3 stalks fall apart in 3 hours was a bit much to
take. I looked out at our distant mountain - where our camp was waiting
for us and we both collectively said "Oh S&%T." It was
7:30 PM already and we were not even near the river.
Bryan and I discussed options. My first choice was to camp here and hunt here
again tomorrow, then go home in the afternoon. Brian thought that was too risky
for two reasons, spooking the bears, and more importantly, no sleeping bags
or tents. The radiant cooling on clear nights would make for one extremely cold
night - we simply weren't prepared to camp. We both agreed that heading back
to the river and doing over 20 river crossings in Wiggy's was risky and would
likely get us wet. So we opted to climb down into the bog, then side-hill around
the entire Koelzer's Mountain before dropping down to our normal spots along
the river. When I asked how long he thought this would take, Bryan simply responded
"a long time" - not good.
I won't go into the details of that hike, but lets just leave it at the fact
that it was ugly, and at some points - dangerous due to wet clothes and very
cold temperatures. By the time we made it back to our camp in the early morning
hours, my feet were all but destroyed from blisters and hotspots. I had hardly
eaten all day yet the thought of eating made me sick. In fact, I was so shaky
and weak when I got back to the tent that I dropped my Mountain House meal,
and in the dash to salvage it, knocked over my water bottle inside the tent.
We were pretty much in agreement that "far mountain" would now be
called "too far (unless you are really stupid) - mountain."