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Glorious High Country

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Glorious High Country

Postby 7mmfan » 08 20, 2021 •  [Post 1]

Last Sunday my Dad and I did a marathon backcountry hike hoping for bear but really just looking for clean high country air and scenery. We found all of the above plus some.

We started at daylight up a ridge with no trail. I've been up this route one time before so I knew what to expect. Knife edges and boulder scrambling for a bit before leveling out onto an old deer migration trail. At about 8:00, I glassed the face of the mountain we were heading towards, still a little over a mile away and noted an odd tan log on the blueberry covered face. I kept glassing and came back to it a moment later and it had moved! After watching for another minute it finally moved again and materialized into a beautiful cinnamon bear gorging on blue berries in the shade of some alpine firs. I knew the route and figured I could be in shooting position in 45 minutes or so.

We promptly dropped 500' of elevation into the saddle between us and the peak, and then climbed another 1000' to the bears elevation. Because of prevailing winds, we stayed deep on the backside of the mountain while gaining that elevation and man what a chore that was. Blueberry bush belaying up the side the mountain. Finally exactly one hour later I eased onto the hillside and to the clump of trees I'd identified as my shooting location. It put me inside 100 yards from where the bear had been the last time I'd seen him 30 minutes before. I began picking apart the waist high berry bushes with scrutiny and looking deep into the shadows of the strips of timber that ran up the face.

After about 10 minutes of thorough glassing, I couldn't turn up the bear. It had moved. I was sitting trying to decide what my next move was when I heard some rocks rolling. I looked up and across to my left and here comes the bear at a trot down the hill and straight at me. He had moved up and over one roll of the hillside into a depression that I could not see. He'd been within 250 yards of me the whole time, but was now coming straight at me at a high rate of speed. I slightly repositioned and got my rifle ready on the shooting sticks and began tracking him in the scope. Now at about 150 yards and still coming straight at me I decided to just wait and let him come. There was no reason to stop him out there or try to take a trotting shot. At about 80 yards he entered a small strip of timber and then popped out the other side, now slightly downhill of me. On this trajectory he would cross the brushy bottom and come out on the slope 30 yards from me where I'd have a no brainer shot. I waited. At 50 yards he enters the brushy bottom and takes a hard left and heads straight downhill into the alder thicket. Out of sight and out of my life.

I was standing there scratching my head. What the heck had just happened? He had travelled so far on a straight line to turn off right before I could shoot? What had spooked him in the first place? Why didn't I stop him when I had the chance? Why didn't I just take the shot at 75 yards as he was walking towards that brush? All the thoughts that come after a missed opportunity. I contemplated pulling out my predator call to see if I could pull him back out but, he had clearly been spooked by something and I felt the chances of that working were minimal. I slowly backed out to the top of the ridge and met up with my Dad. He had been lucky enough to have a birds eye view from the ridge top of the whole thing. In the end, I still stand by my choice to not take the shot. The last thing I want to do is wound a bear especially in the steep thick country. I'll get another whack at him one of these days.

After the encounter we headed to the mountain top to bag the peak for the day and enjoy the views. We then headed down to the small lake in the alpine basin below us for lunch, and re-watering. I knew there were fish in this lake from my previous trip, and I knew they had an affliction for alpine blueberries. What a hoot tossing blueberries out onto the lake and watching these cutthroat attack them like big bugs. I also wondered if they would eat some meat. I Finished one of my chicken legs that I'd brought and tossed the bone into the lake. It was like a pack of piranhas hit that thing, with the big dog fish in the school grabbing it and taking off across the lake with it. The water was so clear that we could see the bone being jerked this way and that for a long ways across the lake. It's obvious that a guy with a flyrod could have a heck of a lot of fun there.

WA Alpine.jpg
WA Alpine.jpg (261.75 KiB) Viewed 91 times


https://youtu.be/7KiyQn6ak20

At this point we explored the basin a bit, finding sign of multiple hunting camps over the years. Clearly this area is no secret to the hunting community. We enjoyed the ambiance of the basin for a bit and then hit the ridgeline and began hiking out, keeping an eye on that face for the bear from that morning. No dice. A couple hours later we made it to the truck with a total mileage for the day just a little over 10 miles with about 5000' of elevation gain on our boots.
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Re: Glorious High Country

Postby WapitiTalk1 » 08 20, 2021 •  [Post 2]

Excellent! What a great hike to the clouds. Those cut's eating the berries are awesome.... looks like a great place to have a mid-day trout meal ;).
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Re: Glorious High Country

Postby wawhitey » 08 20, 2021 •  [Post 3]

Man thats some beautiul country. That bear isnt going anywhere. Hes waiting for you in the area.
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Re: Glorious High Country

Postby 7mmfan » 08 20, 2021 •  [Post 4]

wawhitey wrote:Man thats some beautiul country. That bear isnt going anywhere. Hes waiting for you in the area.


I know he is. It's too bad it's a 2 hour drive and 2.5 hour hike. And I am booked for the next 2 weekends. Maybe I'll get lucky and find him back in there come September. Might just need to call in sick a day or two...
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Re: Glorious High Country

Postby wawhitey » 08 20, 2021 •  [Post 5]

7mmfan wrote:
wawhitey wrote:Man thats some beautiul country. That bear isnt going anywhere. Hes waiting for you in the area.


Might just need to call in sick a day or two...



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Re: Glorious High Country

Postby Lefty » 08 20, 2021 •  [Post 6]

Enjoyable short vidwo
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