Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Into the whiled

So, I recently went on a trip with my dad, up to the Ritter unit of the Umatilla national forest, outside of Dale, Oregon, to hunt elk. I'm blogging the trip now from what I wrote in a notepad while I was up there. I figure this is easier than telling everyone about it individually.

Saturday, Oct. 23rd, 2010
Day One. The Drive.

We left the house at around 3 am or something ridiculous like that. We had to get Mama to the San Fransisco airport, and we had a 13 hour drive ahead of us. We headed up 395, I think, and by breakfast time (or rather, the time our stomach's started growling and our eye lids decided we needed caffeine) we were in Williams, California. You know the place. No Starbuck's in sight (I know. Frowning emoticon) so we stopped at a McDonald's. That's fine, even though I know they're not actually food, I still love Bacon Egg and Cheese McGriddle's. There's a middle aged man and a mid 20's girl in there wearing camoflage, which of course means we're going to talk to them. They're on their way to go duck hunting. We're on our way to go Elk hunting. We're from Los Gatos. They're from Sebastopol (Seb-aa-stuh-poll). She didn't seem to remember my friend, Forrest, (who I figure she went to school with) until I mention that he was approximately 100 feet tall and was a poll vaulter, though he could just as easily have been the poll. Bellies full, eyes open, and back on the road. It's a while before we see any sunlight, but that's fine because it was also a while before we got to anywhere that was really beautiful. In case you were ever considering taking a sight seeing tour straight up the middle of California, don't. As the sun rose, so did our elevation, and we were driving up through the pillared halls of the mountain king, and suddenly through huge grassy flat-lands in mountain valleys, and then back into woodlands and up along winding roads. We'd get to look out, over the valleys as we carved our way along the side of the higher hills, at what must (in the winter) really be like a picture print by Courier and Ives. I really wish my camera was faster, and took higher quality pictures some times, because I can't fully explain how beautiful these areas were. Simultaneously quaint and vast, green and gold, antique and timeless. There are trees up here I'm not sure I've ever seen. The cathedral spires of ever-green trees that hem us in on every side are interrupted occasionally by sparkling explosions of yellow from Valley Oak, Aspen, (maybe) Birch, and Tamarack (the only deciduous conifer I know of)

The closer we got to the Oregon border, the more steadily the air grew full of water droplets. The moisture in the air and the angle of the sun gave us the rare opportunity to actually chase a rainbow. Directly to our right at first, and later moving along about 20 feet in front of us was a double rainbow.... all the way across the sky. It was even starting, at one point, to look like a triple rainbow. I couldn't even fully capture it on my camera. It was.... so intense.

We saw a pretty large herd of prong horned antelope (which I'd never seen in the wild) laying down in a field. I wanted to throw a rock at them so I could see the fastest land animal on the continent in action, but I didn't have a rock, and they seemed content to just be lazy bastards.
We had lunch at a diner in "The tallest town in Oregon", got our elk tag at a little sporting goods store, and made it up to Dale by late afternoon and met Uncle Pat at the turn off for the dirt road into camp. Fortunately, we got there with plenty of light left in the day, and got the tent set up and air mattresses inflated. Mine doesn't seem to be holding air too well, so we'll see how the night goes. It's a good thing everybody brought so much rope, and so many tarps, because we now have a covered kitchen area, and a covered sitting area around the fire in case it rains or snows like the weather report says it will. Speaking of which, tonight is the Hunter's Moon (second full moon of fall), not that we'd be able to tell, what with the clouds being so thick. The temperature's dropping, and all the caffeine's wearing off, so I'm going to crawl into my sleeping bag, put in my ear plugs, and hope I'm not sleeping on the hard ground by morning.

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