After several years of Sharon promising (or was it threatening?) to take me to hunting camp I got the invitation from her husband, Forest, with one week notice. It was a working trip, she was my boss. Camp was 5 miles on horseback behind Brook lake lodge. The lodge is about 60 miles north of Jackson, just over Togwotee Pass at 9200 ft.
~ Brooks Lake Lodge ~
Sharon and I Tuesday
Same spot 6 days later
Below ~ View from Brooks Lake Lodge Sunday
Camp, day one, no snow. The one day with no snow.
We had a stove in our tent, it made changing from bed cloths to cooking cloths much easier.
My bunk for 6 days All the girls slept in one tent and the guys in another.
The girls tent, day 2, looky... it snowed.
Wake up, day four, more snow! Yippe-ki-ay
Trying to keep some of the heat in the tent created a nice rain shower the next morning.
Let me guess, more snow?
...hanging out in the tent
Below ~ The cook tent
The cook's regular schedule was wake up at 4 am, cook breakfast, do dishes, haul water, get lunch ready, do dishes, haul water, saw logs for fire wood, cook dinner, do dishes, sleep, start over. With the blizzards the hunters did not get up early every morning, we only got that wake up call on 3 mornings and it was at 5am AND Forest was kind enough to light a fire in the stove before we crawled out of our sleeping bags.
The Kitchen Crew
Feeding the kids
The cook tent
The cook tent was kept warm 24-7
Little Bit saying "Hi"
Where to keep food in bear country
Fire wood was cut with a Cross Saw.
This is what happens to dish washing liquid when it freezes.
Another one of my chores, yup this is proof I do manual labor.
~ The Drinking Water ~
We hauled about 20 gallons of water a day in 5 gallon buckets from the creek to the cook tent for drinking, cooking, & cleaning.
Now, freeze your bottle of clorox, dip your fingers in ice. Lets see if you can count 40 drops. We had a couple powerful batches.
We treated the water with clorox to kill any giardia wearing fur coats. 40 drops to a 5 gallon bucket. My innards are sparkling clean.
Tuesday: No snow Wednesday: 3" snow Thursday: More snow Friday: RAIN! Saturday: MORE snow! Sunday: Bitter cold, no more snow.
That is a frozen lead rope!
Happy Snow Man
Depressed Snow Man (melting in the rain)
Warming up in the cook tent.
A friendly game of Yahtzee to pass time during the storms
What you can't see in these photos is the bear spray. I had a can attached to my belt everywhere I went. It did not seem silly when the hunters spotted a griz about a 1/4 mile from camp.
I was having some issues with my lure and the line was freezing in the reel.
Fishing in a blizzard. There were fish in that creek having a good laugh at my expense.
I guess I should have wore a hat.
Fishing license $19, Elk License $44, Bear Spray $50, still friends after 6 days of living, working, and sleeping together with no shower.... Priceless.
Sharon and I took out a load. Both of us were wearing Long John's, jeans, snow pants, 2 shirts, heavy coat, (plus a rain cover for me), wool socks, wool lined pack boots, ski gloves, a warm hat, and a can of bear spray.
My horse was named Duce. She had only 2 speeds, mosey and trot. I had to peddle her to get her to walk up to speed with the rest of the mules. The 2 hour ride to camp was exhausting. On the way back to the lodge I found one more speed.. "there's the ranch!" When I got off her at the end of the trip I told Sharon that is all the riding this city girl can take for one day. My bum was sore!
Back at Brook Lake Lodge. Sharon unloaded the mules and put a pack saddle on Duce.
Julie & Duce
Sharon headed right back to camp with the empty pack mules and Duce.
My burb was covered in 2 feet of heavy wet frozen snow. While Sharon was unpacking the mules I was digging it out.
The road out sucked, TG for my 4WD burb! It took 30 minutes to drive 6 miles.
No place like home! Why would anyone want to live anywhere else?
~ After I left the sky cleared and the hunter got his elk ~
Photo by Sharon Stearns
Hunting is a way of life in Wyoming, many families have their children hunting when they are old enough to responsibly hold a rifle. We teach our kids that hunting is not about killing. We hunt for meat, elk is my personal favorite. My son shot his first animal when he was Katie's age. It is part of growing up, With Katie and Kyle both they learn to respect nature and do allot of growing up in the process. BUT a girl's got to have her priorities!
Katie's first elk Photo by Sharon Stearns
Several years ago:
Katie tells her dad she wants pierced ears. Dad tells her she can have them when she shoots her first elk. Katie immediately writes it on paper and makes her dad sign.
Hunting Camp 2007:
After the hunter got his elk Katie and her dad went together to hunt for an elk. They spotted one near camp and Katie took her shot. She hit the elk with her first shot. When the elk went down and she was praised for a job well done by her proud father, what did she have to say for herself? "YES! Now I get ears pierced!"
The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man. ~Author Unknown