Monday, August 11, 2014

Hot Dam Race

This Saturday we ran a competitive race as a family for the first time.  Cathy and Eli ran the 2 mile option of the race and I ran the 5 mile option.  When it was all said and done, we all ended up doing well enough to get medals for our age group awards.  I thought that was pretty neat.  Here's a picture of us afterwards.

I was pretty happy to beat my time from last year on this race, so maybe I'm still improving a little bit.  Instead of cutting my time by several minutes like I used to, my time this year was only 38 seconds faster than last year, but hey, it was faster!  My official time was 37:36 for 5 miles which comes out to a 7:31 average pace.  Last year in September I ran a 10K (6.2 miles) at an average pace of 7:13 so that's going to be a tough one to beat next month.  Maybe if the weather cooperates and I can keep my training going I will be able to though.

Just a quick update.  Hopefully Eli will enjoy running enough to make it part of his lifestyle as he grows up.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Eli's first time up T-Shirt

Okay, for those of you who have been to Yellowstone Bible Camp, you know that climbing T-Shirt mountain is a big deal.  I've thought that Eli could have climbed it for a couple years now, but he is related to me and didn't really want to because he thought it would be too hard.  This year he decided that he wanted to try it and I was very happy to guide him to the top!

We originally were going to go with a group with one of his friends that is a few years older than him, but they ended up going on a different hike so it ended up being just Eli and myself which was perfect for me.  It really brought back memories of a few years back when my dad and I climbed it with just the two of us when he was 80 years old.  Eli made the comment that maybe someday he could climb it with his son and that made me smile, he also commented that maybe he could climb up and throw my ashes off the top when I died and that made me smile too.

I like to go pretty much straight up the mountain climbing on the large shale rocks right from the start.  The hardest part of the entire climb was about the first 30 feet getting from the road to the bigger rocks where you have to climb up some loose dirt and Eli had a bit of a hard time keeping from sliding back down.  We focused on getting his footing correct and leaning into the mountain so that if he did fall, he didn't fall very far.

Here he getting started going up the large shale rocks.

We made pretty good progress, although he seemed to want to stop and drink a lot, but we actually made it to the top in just over 2 hours which really wasn't too bad at all.  We tried out a new route for me and it is the best one I've ever been up, maybe next year I'll try to break the 1 hour mark again and if I do I will go up this route for sure.

He was very focused on getting his name on the T-Shirt and was surprised when there was actually multiple T Shirts.  Another group had gone up just before us and we caught them at the top and Eli got to put his name on the T Shirt that they brought up.  He was pretty pumped although it is hard to tell in the picture.

If you click on the picture to enlarge it you can see the little white dots on the right edge of the picture are actually travel trailers parked down at camp.  You can see the barn to the left of them if you know what you are looking at.  He thought it was pretty neat looking down at camp from that high up.

After a short break on top he was ready to head down.  We had all discussed the slides that you go down and I guess he expected something closer to the slides you would see on a playground because he was disappointed in the dirt/rock slides that we ended up going down.  Here he is getting ready to go down one.

He seemed to have quite a bit of fun going down.  We had several talks about leaning back into the mountain and staying under control and he did for the most part.  We had one spot where he ended up getting himself sideways and he started rolling, but thankfully I was only a few feet below him and was able to get him stopped quickly before he hurt himself. I took a short video clip and I'll try to get it uploaded and inserted too.

We ended up going off to the side a little farther than normal to keep from getting pelted from rocks that the group that we had caught up to at the top, but we made it down pretty uneventfully.  Eli wanted to pose for a photo on another spot with the shale rock.

It really is a pretty steep and difficult climb and I've tried to take adults up and down before that ended up giving up so I'm pretty proud that he made it and did so well.  He seemed to actually enjoy himself and we had some pretty good father son bonding time in my opinion.

I guess that's it.  Eli's first trip up T-Shirt officially documented.  He asked me how many times I had climbed T-Shirt and I really don't have even a very good guess.  I think I've been to Yellowstone Bible Camp somewhere around 30 times and there have been some times when I didn't climb T-Shirt that week and there have been some times when I climbed it multiple times during a week.  I told him I thought somewhere around 25 to 30 times and that's about as good of a guess as I can make.  Hopefully he has many more times up and down the mountain as well.  Maybe he will be helping me go up when I'm 80!  I think that would be awesome for both of us.

That's it for now.  Nathan

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Scouting for Mountain Goats

Back from my first real scouting trip on my goat tag.  

Main goal was to cover ground and get a feel for the different parts of the unit and I succeeded in that.  Still a little worried as I didn't see many goats where everyone tells me where they will be during hunting season, but I did find some when I went up higher where there was still some snow.

Got stuck in about an hour long Bisonjam driving through Lamar Valley getting over to the unit from where I was staying in Montana.

Glassed a lot of cliffs.  The first evening I saw a nanny and kid at about 50 yards on my side of the canyon and that was it.  The next morning I saw a lone goat about 2 miles down the canyon about smack dab in the middle of the cliff.  You can click on any of the pictures to see a larger image, the panoramic pictures are pretty small if you don't click on them.

Ran the Morrison Jeep trail later that morning and afternoon from the top side and saw about 30 head of elk up on top, but no goats.  Some really pretty country though.  This is the drainage that ends up in Deep Lake. 

It looked pretty rough to try to drop down into from the top.  There is a trail that goes up to it from the bottom that will be an option later in my hunt if we aren't seeing anything in the other spots.

I was told this was a cellular antenna, but there is no power coming to it and those don't look like any solar panels I've ever seen.  Not sure what it is but it is up in the middle of nowhere.

On one of the cliffs I was looking at there was a box on a shelf.  Another perplexing thing to me.  Not sure how you would get to the box without full blown repelling gear.  The cliff goes another 300 - 400 feet down under the box too.  There was some type of box inside on the upper right corner as well but I couldn't get a good enough picture to show it.

After abandoning all the spots I had been told to check out, I just drove the Beartooth Highway stopping on all the pull outs and glassing for goats.  Found this group of 9 nannies.  I thought I counted 10 when I was watching them, but all the pictures just have 9 goats in them.  These were about 1/2 mile away.

There was a lone goat hanging out about 2 miles away on this cliff right in the center of the picture where the reddish rock is, but he got up and started moving when I was taking pictures.  He's (I think it was a billy) the bright white spot moving into the pines about 1/3rd of the way to the left of the screen in this picture.  

I tried using a fancy digiscoping setup I bought a few years ago but gave up on it and was just free handing taking pictures with my iPhone through the scope.  I'm either going to rig up a cheap adapter with a measuring cup for my iPhone or break down and buy one of the PhoneScope setups off camofire.

This picture has both of the above pictures in it.  The nannies were on the closest ridge that runs perpendicular in this picture, the lone goat was on the next ridge that runs parallel in this picture.  The mountains in the background are in Montana.

Over the course of 2 1/2 days I saw more elk than goats by a wide margin.  Took this picture through my binoculars of some elk sunning themselves on a sand bar on the river.

Almost ran over this band of bighorn ewes running to the Morrison Jeep Trail switchbacks on the last day of scouting.  There were a few more higher up the canyon, but no rams that I could see.

Pictures never do hills justice, but this is looking up the switchbacks of the Morrison Jeep Trail going up to the Dillworth Bench.  I think there are 21 switchbacks to get to the bench. 

This is about 3/4 of the way up looking back down the switchbacks.

This is at the top looking down the last switchback.  

I had been warned to bring a spare tire and thankfully at least had a compressor and some plugs.  Ended up with a cut in the rear tire of one of the ATVs that took 5 plugs to fill.  Somehow it ended up holding until we got back out thankfully!

This is up on the bench looking to the west.

Another shot looking west.

My definition of what is steep and what isn't has been completely turned on it's head.  Grades that I would have never even considered previously are now places where I'm telling myself, "that looks like a good spot if I needed to get up or down that area".  I'm also going to try to contact some mountaineering type folks to inquire about recovery options if I end up with a goat down in a spot that is not retrievable for me.  Every time I looked over an area I kept asking myself, could I pull the trigger on a goat if it was there?  What about there?

Overall I felt like it was a successful trip.  Met one local that gave me some really good information that matched up with what one of the guys I had talked to that had the tag a couple years ago told me.  Covered a lot of ground and feel like I know my way around the unit a little bit at least.  Was somewhat disappointed that I didn't see more goats and any big billies or anything, but from what I've been told they will probably not be in the same spot in 2 months anyway.

This is definitely a different type of hunting than anything I've done before.  I swing back and forth between thinking it should be a slam dunk to thinking that there is no way I'm going to fill my tag.  Still hoping that with 9 days to hunt that I'll be able to find a nice mature billy in a spot that I can shoot it and recover it.

Still would welcome any suggestions or input.

Thanks, Nathan