Monday, May 26, 2008

Eagle Caps Memorial Day Weekend

***Click for full size***

Shot from about 5500 feet on the eastern slope of the Elkhorns above Baker Valley, the Eagles are about 25 air miles from here. Running N-S they peak at around 10,000 feet.
Shot from the Valley floor, a couple miles closer, this is the same section of the Eagles less cloud obscured.

Scottie, Gus, and I needed to get out of dodge for awhile and the roads into the mountains are fairly recently clear far enough in to make it interesting. So load up some fun stuff, pour 23 gallons of not cheap gasoline into the 30 gallon tank and take off for a few hours. We putted around off the main road for awhile and saw a couple mule deer looking healthy and not much else in wild life. My wife's excuse to me for dumping $80-some of gasoline in the K5 was to go cougar hunting, I have a tag, which I found entirely hilarious and went along with it anyhow - including taking the hand cannon .45 Colt Vaquero. For aficionados it's loaded with 365 grain cast lead/silver gas checked bullets going 1300fps, so I'm not exaggerating. I also took something I thought I might be able to shoot something with - the Fuji digital and I bagged something, above.

If you don't know anything about cats, the reason I found the hunting justification humorous is that cats don't like people and a high performance 350 cid engine with performance mufflers on a mountain road is a fairly large hint that people are about. Cougars are a top of the line predator with a large range they jealously protect and they don't waste energy that must be replaced by a kill by taking walks. They hunt or rest and resting isn't done in places where they're likely to be bothered. You will virtually never track a cat or ambush one, I buy tags for them for use during deer and elk season when the chances of an accidental meeting are a bit higher.

It was a good day, the temperatures were shirt sleeve with the sun ducking in and out. The roads weren't dusty and the air smelled of damp duff and pines and firs. The clean sharp smell of snow flowed down hill giving the air a bite, not cold, just that hint of deep cold snow a few thousand feet higher. The 74 K5 was its usual self, lots of squeaks and a few rattles rough riding but powerful and nimble machine. When I reach the foot of the mountains on the gravel road I lock in the hubs and put it in four low to minimize the shuddering and jumping on washboards and reduce the need for shifting. In 4th gear with the gearing that low it ranges from snarls to growls and only needs the odd shifts to 3rd gear. Second and granny are reserved for pretty special situations. It is a 35 year old truck and one of my favorites, nicely capable on the freeway at 70 mph and yet in town it will turn a corner in 4th gear and accelerate away smoothly, but it certainly isn't real easy on gasoline getting 15 mpg if you don't abuse it.

It was nice to put a smile on my cabin fevered wife's face with an outing to the mountains. She says that if I'm going to maker her live in this forsaken place the least I can do is take her to the mountains. I'm ok with that.

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