Winter Trek 2000Pictures from Winter Trek 2000
It has been agreed by all that we had a definite need to get away from the settlements for awhile. The winter's snows have kept us all close to hearth and home. The responsibilities of feeding and caring for families and beasts in the dead of winter are beginning to wear heavily on all. So on Saturday morning of the 26th, those of us who could walk away from our duties for a day and a half gathered at the new home of Dave and Laura Cyr at the edge of the settlement known as Nine Mile. Laura and her family provided us with a fine breakfast to start us on our way. As we gathered, it became apparent that only 5 would be able to get away and that only 2 horses and one mule would be available to us for our trip. Those who could get away included Squire Dave Cyr, Mike Tomell, Marv and Barb Sowers, and Doug DesJarlais with his riding horse and 2 pack animals. Dave's family wished us well and started on their own duties leaving us to contemplate the mountain behind us. As we started up the mountain, we were quickly reminded that this was not the Ohio country that some had known in their youth. These were the shining mountains and this was a mountain indeed. Even those of us without heavy packs were forced to stop many times to catch our breath. Those on foot were soon thinking fondly of horses left back at the settlements. As the snow deepened with our climb, we wished for snowshoes which were left behind as well. Yet none suggested turning around. The need to be away pushed us steadily upward. Soon we were beyond the sight and sounds of the nearby settlement. As we climbed higher, Doug and his pack string waited for us at a level spot searching for rocks to even out the pack horses loads and to use later at our cooking fire. The idea of packing rocks up the mountain covered with rocks brought laughs at first. This was the first of many learning lessons with the pack stock. We will all remember how much easier it was to add a rock rather than repacking the whole load. As the snow got deeper and the mountain steeper, the ropes tied around Marv and Barbs moccasins soon proved their worth with added traction. A slip backwards in the snow and a hard fall caused the Squire a moment of concern till he realized that only his knee had been damaged and not his fine new gun. He gracefully accepted the teasing of his companions who have already seen scratches appear on their own fine guns. At one rest, Marv realized that his prized knife had dropped from his sash somewhere on the last section. We all thought how hard it would be to find in the snow and wished him well. Several offered to help search, but Marv waved them on. He quickly headed back down the mountain in search of it as the rest continued on.
As the snow got deeper and the walking harder, we caught up with Doug and the pack string at the top of a ridge. He had seen a flat area with a group of trees with no snow under them and soft dry needles under them. As each of us came up and inspected it, the area seemed like a great campsite. Though not as far from the settlements as we had planned, we could hear no dogs barking or people talking. After unloading the packhorses, we began putting up Doug's shelter. Four good pieces of canvas, a few stakes, and some good ropes soon put together a shelter that resembled a teepee. The trees protected us above and the canvas on all sides. If anyone had predicted that rocks for a firepit would be hard to find on that mountain, I would have laughed in their face. In reality, we could find only four small ones. The rest were under a thick cover of needles. Marv started digging a fire pit and had to go nearly a foot before hitting dirt and rocks. The extra needles would come in handy for bedding, the rocks for cooking.
For the rest of the day, we swapped food and stories, taking time out to shoot at a target up on the hillside. But mainly, we relaxed from the responsibilities of daily life and reveled in the simplicity of life on the mountain. Dave, Marv and Barb explored a nearby spring, but finally decided that melting snow was easier than drying wet mocs if we got our water there. Mike, the greenhorn in our group, saw several different options for staying warm on winter treks and got many new ideas for food. He may decide to leave the cigar home next time though. He and Dave took their fair share of teasing at some of their choices of gear. The rest of the evening was spent in storytelling and discussions that ranged in all directions. Mike and Barb kept a warm fire going most of the night. It was never settled just who snored the loudest, though Dave got high marks for interrupted snores.
Morning brought out a variety of breakfast materials followed by more shooting and many more stories. The warm weather left everyone falling through the crusted snow. Though many wished they could stay, we began packing up the horses for the trip home. Rambo the packhorse reminded us to watch our feet while in his area and Josie the mule decided that Marvs greatcoat thrown over his backpack was some strange humpbacked beast that was going to eat her. For the rest of the trip, she watched Marv VERY carefully. The trip back went quickly, a light rain beginning to fall. A short time later, we surprised Dave's wife Laura earlier than expected, but she still put on quite a feed with cornbread and southwestern soup. A good time was had by all and Thanks much to Dave for giving us a chance to see some of his country.
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