We had the opportunity to head up into the mountains for a week with our kids, my dad and step-mom, and even my daughter's boyfriend, Kian. We heard stories of how packed it would be with campers and people coming from all over the country from lock-down states to enjoy a little freedom. On top of that, there was an uncontained wildfire on the north side, so we figured we may as well accept the idea that it would be elbow to elbow.
To try and stave off the masses, we picked a spot we hadn't been to in 30 years and found a little valley all to ourselves. It was tucked in between two different mountains and 3 ridges, and surprisingly enough, we found the honey spot! The few people we saw were only driving by on the road below, and we had a view to die for every night. It was quiet and peaceful as we listened to the wildlife every day.
We saw 300 hundred head of elk for 3 days straight in our little nook of the Bighorns, as well as moose, deer, porcupine, and raccoons. While I was busy flyfishing, trying to think like a rainbow trout, my trusty dog scared up a bear. He gave a great, surprising roar from just behind me, and I think I nearly fell in the stream when I jumped and tried to spin around for my 44. The stream was very pinned in with trees and deadfall, and I never got eyes on him as my dog was hot on his tail, but that roar was pretty unmistakable. There was some terrible crashing through the forest by the time I got myself positioned for a fight, and after a few minutes, that trusty dog came trotting back with a big, dopey, happy face. He couldn't have been happier or felt more useful, saving his Daddy from what would have surely been a horrible encounter. We found what I believe was bear scat all around us, fresh, steaming, and bloody. I took pictures to analyze it. Dad wanted to get some to take back and look through it. But I wasn't that interested. ;)
The kids and I grabbed a compass and climbed Ed Point, which turned out to be one of the hardest hikes I've ever done because of the deadfall. There was no trail, just trees laying on top of one another 3 and 4 deep, and the terrain was so steep that there were several times we found ourselves on all fours. Once, when Abby fell, she just happened to land with her hands positioned just right to stop her fall on the trunk of a tree. Had she missed, there was a 3 foot long broken branch, sheered off to look exactly like a spear, that was only a couple of inches from her heart. I had to turn away when I saw that because it made me immediately sick to my stomach. We had prayed for safety before we embarked, and we gave thanks to God after that for watching over her. When we got back to camp my son's phone informed him that we had climbed enough vertical feet to walk to the top of the world trade center. I was glad he waited to tell me that until after our climb. ;)
We caught a lot of fish, but not many big enough to eat. There was still enough to enjoy some roasted fresh trout wrapped in tin foil with butter and lemon pepper, thanks to our chefs, Kian, Abby, and Kari.
Once again, even though he only fished 1 day, Dad outfished me. I've come to accept that I'll just never be as good as him when it comes to thinking like a fish. But that's ok. It gives me something to keep practicing at I suppose.