Going from barely above sea level to over 8,000 feet in the span of a few days is challenging. So I’ve elected to start this hunt just focusing on the next step. Sure I’m here to bird hunt. But right now we just have to get legs and lungs acclimated to this new environment.
I find it amazing that a mountain that looks massive and so imposing can take so long to actually hike to and touch . When it’s right there, yet walk for an hour and you seem no closer.
Though the ultimate goal is to get above 10k and locate a Snowcock, there are other birds in these peaks. Blue grouse are a fairly common sight in the area. They tend to reside above 8,000 feet and normally hold for dog work and gunning.
The temperature this time of year is schizophrenic. The mornings will start off in the high 40s at daybreak and then quickly climb to above 80 in the sun. That’s too hot for an all black dog working this hard. Our time on the slopes is thereby limited to how much water I can carry or whether there is available ground water for Wyatt to cool off in.
Day one we climbed 1,500 feet and hiked for four hours before Wyatt was toast and my legs were jelly. Yesterday we started 1,000 feet higher and trudged to above 9k. Then we dropped down between two ridge lines to explore some cover which meant we got to scale back to our starting height of 8,400.
Today we hiked just over five miles as the crow flies paralleling a ridge line. We’re walking a fine line between getting conditioned and getting totally warped. When we hike in for Snowcock I know our trek will be right around three miles, but we’ll be carrying packs. Wyatt has to carry his own food because I’ll be carrying our shelter along with the rest of our gear.
Wyatt did manage to flush two Blues which were in the wheelhouse and a perfect double, but it was 70 yards from the campground and probably not the best place to launch the season’s opening salvo. There will be more time to shoot birds. We have many more feet to cover.