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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Successful Sheep Hunt

We're Back from our great adventure and I must say everything went perfectly. I also have to add that while Zoya posted a picture of a full curl sheep - it is a Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep, and not a Dall Sheep. Dall Sheep, the kind we were chasing, are white. They have adapted to Alaska's climate and since it is white and snowy most of the year up in the mountains where they live, they have evolved a white fur coat. The top photo is of a Dall Sheep (not furl curl) that wandered into our camp. We think he thought our white tent was another sheep.

Anyway, it was beautiful up in the Brooks Range. Incredibly raw with bare rock mountains and very little vegetation. Yet in the valleys all the plants had turned yellow, purple and red. An amazing number of animals too - we saw lots of caribou, a curious bear, sheep everywhere, a porcupine, ground squirrels, and even wolf tracks. But mostly our hunting trip was all about hiking. We hiked around 30 miles between camps carrying all of our gear, and another 30 miles carrying lighter packs while exploring side valleys from a base camp.

Our daily routine was to wake up at 4:30 and then hike up a side valley at dawn while the cold night air was still draining down valley . Then at the top of the valley we'd cross over into another valley and hike back down to the main valley and to base camp. By around 10 AM the main valley had warmed up and all the warm air would move upslope up the valleys. So going down valley we would again have the wind in our faces. It is always better hunting when your quarry can't smell you coming!

Once back at base camp we'd usually take a nap and then pack up camp and move a few miles carrying all of our gear to another location, and another base camp.

And such Glorious hiking! None of the brush, grass and salmonberries that bar the way when you hike on Kodiak. It was like hiking in a park. Gregg said it reminded him of Glacier national Park on steroids. Anyway - more to come!


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