This scouting trip was a bit of a benchmark for me. First, I finally made the trip into a basin I have been checking out on Google earth for a few years now. Second, 7-10 mile hikes one way, with 3000 feet of elevation gain are becoming the norm. It’s one thing to backpack in this far with a couple days worth of gear, but getting meat and gear back out by yourself is going to be the real challenge.
I started down the trail at about 9AM again on August 16, 2014 and it was a lot cooler in the mornings finally. There was a hint of that hunting season breeze in the air. It didn’t last very long however before it heated up and reminded me it was still summer time. Around 10:30 AM the air gets still and stagnant this time of year. This seems like the hottest part of the day sometimes.
The recent rain storm had washed out large sections of the trail and created massive landslides in some areas. I was starting to get concerned if any goats had possibly bit the dust because they tend to like inhabiting landslide prone areas. It was encouraging to see this Garter snake had survived all this.
On my last trip I had thought I found a very large mushroom, well this one topped that by a lot. It was as big as my head and looked very out of place in the forest.
Since I knew the trail now, I was making better time. Even with the washouts along the trail I got to my turn off point earlier in the afternoon this time. I found a game trail and followed it up to the first bench. It was a great looking spot for Deer but lacked fresh sign. Farther up the mountain above the bench I spooked a Doe. She was not too concerned and walked off.
In my opinion seeing a Doe is almost as good as seeing a Buck. This indicated that there is in fact a family of Deer living in this immediate area. The older Bucks will usually be in the adjacent more rugged terrain, and higher on the mountain. Hunting this bench later in the season when the high elevations get a lot of snow could probably be very productive.
I had a little trouble finding the lake that was on the uppermost bench. It was really tucked into the landscape.
I loaded up on water when I found it and kept going up. There was a saddle that I wanted to set camp on. Another hour of hiking from the lake got me to a good spot on the saddle.
From there I could climb the rest of the way to the top of the mountain that evening and glass in all directions. My focus however was the Goat country. After setting camp I climbed the rest of the way up, this took another hour and by then it was time for the end of the day glassing. Even with these long summer days, they go by fast doing these longer expeditions.
It didn’t take long until I found a goat. It was in one of the places that you would expect to find a Goat or big old Buck. I watched the Goat feed for a while until it disappeared in the rugged landscape.
It was definitely a young Goat, and I suspect it was a young Billy that had dispersed from the core area near the trailhead. This was the only thing I saw the rest of the evening. I could have easily spent 2 days on top of that mountain glassing the surrounding area for Bucks and Bulls, but that wasn’t on the agenda. It had taken a long time to get all the way up to that spot and the next morning I had to get an early start to get out. I heard an Elk bugle at first light down in the basin. It was getting to be that time of year already. There was some great looking mountain goat habitat in that area, but it just lacked goats.