Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains

Last night in our pretty campground on the Wood River, the temp got down to 37 degrees.  

Campground north of Ketchum on the Wood River
 Driving north, then west we passed through the gorgeous Sawtooth Mountain Country. Down the “Ponderosa Byway” following a branch of the Payette River, then down the “Wildlife Canyon” byway to the Payette River itself. We are camping in the mountains above the river, off-road, in the Boise National Forest. Peaceful, quiet and lovely.  

The Sawtooth Mountains


The Payette River
Our off-road campground in the Boise National Forest. Appetizers: smoked oysters on Ritz Crackers

Dinosaur National Monument – Green River Campground

Temps at Green River Campground got down to 44 last night, the camper remained at 55 without the furnace. 

Sally – Green River, Utah
 Drove west on Hwy 40, turned north on I84, found our campground in the Sawtooth National Forest north of Ketchum, had a late dinner after 9 hrs of driving and went wearily to bed. 


Oh Canada!

On our way to meet friends and explore the Canadian Rockies. We left late Tuesday (1pm) due to spending most of Monday getting Sally’s passport renewal in process with a passport expediter/ courier. The old one expired April 4th 2015, unbeknownst to us. 6 hrs later and $429 poorer (not including the $200 Federal Government renewal fees), we recommenced our preparation activities. The good news is that Sally’s passport will be shipped to our friends Rich and Rennie in Spokane and we will collect it when we arrive!

Small delays aside, we had a lovely drive up the Poudre Canyon, over Cameron Pass (where the aspens are beginning to turn), through North Park, over Rabbit Ears Pass, through Steamboat Springs, past my absolute favorite ranch gate and arriving at Dinosaur National Monument, Green River Campground after dark.  

On our way in the new truck camper.
The lovely Poudre Canyon
Your author at Poudre Falls
Poudre Falls
Really great ranch gate near Dinosaur National Monument

Best Wildlife Pics From Willett’s Kopje Creek Game Cam 2014 – 2015

Game camera, positioned near a salt block

No lions 🐯 or tigers 🐅 or bears 🐻 (or tin men). But of literally thousands of pictures captured on our game cam (thanks to Julie, Ben and David Lockman for those gifts!). These hand-picked photos are the most representative of our wild neighbor’s visits nearly every evening during April through November 2014 & 2015. (After November, the Cameras will be under 15 ft of snow!)

Two elk calves
Hey Mom, who’s the guy in the bushes?
Fighting Bucks
Fighting cow elk!
Young cow moose
Mother – daughter out for an evening stroll
Hey – who’s behind the curtain?
Interrupting my dinner
Biiiiiiig Bull Moose
Young bull moose hangin’ with papa 
Nice mule deer buck
Biiig Bull Moose at night
Bull Elk
Hawk or owl
Red Fox
Great Blue Herron
Bunny Rabbit

2015 Spring at the Cabin

Cabin Panorama

Three visits to the cabin in the last month for work projects and relaxation produces great sunsets, wildflowers and wild game pics!

Dramatic Sunset
Fire to the south
“Spiritual” sunset

Lots of game viewing opportunities, antelope, elk (at the salt block, at Chminey Rock Ranch and Sand Creek Pass), Moose, Mule Deer, and marmots.

Young Bull Moose at the Salt Block
Elk at the salt block
Young cow moose checks out the cabin

Beautiful birds – Western Tanager, American Goldfinch Golden Eagles, an Osprey and lots of Pine Siskins, Humming Birds and purple finches.

American Tanager
American Tanager
Broadtail Hummingbird
Pine Siskins and Purple Finch
American Goldfinch

Wildflowers in profusion due to the abundant rainfall, but only a few pictured here…

Barrel Cactus in bloom
Barrel Cactus in bloom
Pasque Flower 
Honeybee on a dandelion
Indian Paintbrush  
Mountain Forget-Me-Nots

One enchanted evening….





Great Horned Owl in a dead limber pine 
Moonrise over the ridge  

Evening game drive to the Laramie Valley produced antelope, elk, deer and gorgeous views of the Rawah Mountains

Rawah Mountains  

52″ of wet snow in late April damaged both chimneys, so now we have new snow wedges to divert future wet, heavy dumps!

Chimney bent, one brace ripped off


Chimney repair with new snow wedge 

Some fine dinners including Shake Shack burgers with Baked Pomme Frites and Bacon-Tomato grilled cheese sandwiches  



Riding Back Home from Steamboat

A stunning Colorado day! Cloudless blue sky, early morning temps in the 60’s and a light breeze, so I know the 3 1/2 hour ride home will be great fun. At Muddy Pass there is a roundup underway…

Up over Rabbit Ears Pass, east of Steamboat, crossing the high rolling plains to Walden, CO, then up over Cameron Pass, and we are now in the Poudre River Canyon.

The water is running quite high and the rafting companies look like they doing a nice business today.Through the tunnel in the rock……

And home

Post hunt cleanup

Sick all day Monday, so couldn't enjoy the warm, sunny weather. Better yesterday. I emptied the composting toilet, breaking the plastic drum catch in the process (no big deal, they will send me a new one for cost of shipping). I filled the water tanks – we were down to 25 gallons, and I emptied the grey water holding tank which was nearly half full. I estimated it had about 500 gallons of grey water which is nearly 1/2 of its 1,250 gallon capacity.

I Last pumped it out Sept 24th when Sal, Bill and I arrived to work at the cabin. According to the cabin calendar we have been up here a total of 25 days since last pump-out including Bill's visit, Sal with Lisa and recently Sal, Ben and I hunting. On average then, we use 20 gallons of water a day – hard to believe. Cross-checking, I last filled the water tanks when Bill was here and today added 525 gallons to the tanks, so the numbers tie out, given that Sal throws out the dishwater in the yard to feed the wild flowers.

Today I pack up and go home, tidying up in case Ray and Shirley are able to come to the cabin for Thanksgiving.

Elk hunt 2013 leaves many great memories. Maybe next year's hunt will also include bringing home the bacon (er……….Elk)!



Elk Hunt Day 9

Sunrise over Boulder Ridge (10,100')

Feeling that I may have finally gotten the best of my bronchial crud, I endeavored to climb to my favorite meadow at 9,700 ft to watch the sun rise and hopefully catch elk feeding. The sun kept to it's appointed hour, however the elk were not so courteous. I heard cow elk calling to each other in the distance, but before I could locate the source, they moved off northwest toward the peak of Bull Mountain (10,082).

Sunrise touches the Rawah Mountains

The sunrise was glorious!

Boulder Ridge & Jimmy Creek Valley with Rawah Mtns in background
Elk like steep meadows @ 9,600'

Pretty fresh elk sign in my meadow.

Elk skid marks in snow overlaying mud

The meadow was full of “skid marks” – elk sliding in the snow covered mud on their way down the mountain to feed last night.

Ancient Limber Pine grasping a boulder in its roots
Mid-morning snack: orange, jalapeño cheese sticks and M&M's

On my way down the mountain, 4 deer (all does) sauntered onto the meadow only 30 yards away. They somehow must have known I only had a buck deer license. When they saw me, they picked up the pace a bit, but when I didn't try to immediately eat them, they slowed to a fast walk and moved toward the trees. Pretty girls!
My truck needs a bath!

My neighbors David & Janet Lochman stopped by to discuss our Wood Duck Introduction Project and mentioned that he had frequently been seeing a big bull elk with a small herd of cows feeding on the Big Meadow above his cabin. So, of course, the evening hunt was at the Big Meadow. The temp has climbed to 51 degrees and most of the deep, crusted, snowdrifts had melted a bit, so getting up there was no problem with the chained up truck.

I immediately found the tracks of a small herd of about a dozen, crossing and recrossing. The sign looked to be a few hours old, from this morning or thereabouts, so after tracking a while, I returned to the Big Meadow for the last 30 minutes of the hunt.

Elk tracks in the forest east of Big Meadow

The meadow smelled strongly of elk, however, they did not deign to appear, so I returned home to drown my sorrows in Thai Green Curry with Shrimp and Broccoli.

This years hunt was quite exciting, despite getting sick a couple days before the start. We saw lots of elk (maybe 75 or so – but no clearly identifiable 4point legal bulls), I saw a few deer, we had 2 lovely falls of tracking snow, 30 mph winds, calm days, and the temps ranged from a low of 11 to a high of 51 degrees, so we certainly had lots of variety. Son-in-law Ben displayed great endurance and enthusiasm in improving his hunting craft and was rewarded with a plenitude of elk sightings. He is a fine elk hunting partner.

We ate well, got lots of excercise and enjoyed the peace of the Rocky Mountain wilderness. Can't get much better than this!

Self portrait in sunrise hot light!



Elk Hunting Day 7&8

Yesterday, we hiked in before light to the south school section ridge to see if the elk would repeat their performance. Yes and no. Elk showed up at a meadow, but not the one we we’re sitting on. 600 yards away, 50 elk were moving into the tree line. Ben decided to chase them, a gutsy move, requiring a sprint, ascending 1,00 or so feet in elevation. The elk dispersed into smaller groups to bed down and chew their cuds, Ben following a group of 8 or so, finding them bedded, but unable to determine if any legal bulls were present. Presently, they eluded him and he gave up the chase. David spotted a small band of cows and immature bulls, but again, was unable to determine sex.

In the afternoon, we hunted the north school section near Sand Creek. Ben saw some elk, but the light was failing and again could not determine sex.

On the way to the afternoon hunt

Saturday, Sally and Ben left for town, while David hunted Lyle,s road turnoff. Unfortunately, the county road was still snowbound and at 6:30 am, David got stuck, high centering the truck and necessitating 90 minutes of shoveling. 2 trucks arrived nearby, but watched David shoveling for an hour, before offering to help pull him out (nice fellas). Hunting Lyle’s road, David found a zillion elk tracks, a fast moving deer and a couple moose. I met a Mr Marshall who related that he and family found a large herd the prior night and deciding not to disturb them (due to the late hour), located them in the same place in the morning and shot 2 cows and a bull. They camp every year at the cattle guard, just before you reach the Boulder Ridge turn, and hunt the area just east of their camp and north of the county road. They said that due to the wind, the elk, uncharacteristically, went to the south side, but moved north after the wind abated.

The sun sets over Sand Creek Pass

Evening hunt near Forest Service Circle, produced no elk, but a beautiful sunset.

Elk Hunt Day 6

Elk meadow full of (hard-to-see) elk and deer tracks

Today we left for the school section, south gate at daylight in the chained-up truck, due to yesterday's drifting snow (didn't want to get stuck a 3rd time). Ben went high, David hiked the valley finding deer and moose tracks crossing the stream. Then, in the large, north most meadow appeared dozens of elk tracks! The elk had been feeding during the night in the big meadow, moved to an upper meadow and continued to feed (along with quite a few deer), then continued in a vast stream upward through an aspen grove and into the Douglas fir forest. From there I lost them, but Ben saw quite a number of cow elk……

Bens Personal Log: “Having a game plan I started up the hill, which turned in to two hills, and finally the meadow. It was of course empty. But I found through the woods a single trail of elk tracks which quickly turned into more than what my tracking sense can handle. I was on to a herd! I deviated from the original plan opting for a steep climb up Bull Mountain in hot pursuit. I found a steaming scat, urin soaked beds numbering more than fifteen, and my breath waning. I made it to 9,750 feet to a beautiful meadow overlooking the entire valley. Still no elk. I descended to meet what I thought would be a wide trail of tracks by found only scattered tracks of twos. I followed one and found a cow elk popping out her bed, darting a few feet and looked to see what startled her. I stood watching her motionless as she then laid back down chewing her cud. I snapped a few twigs after watching her to see what I would have to do to get her to pop up again. I was about a hundred feet away before that happened. She darted off and I followed more tracks, leading to elk inexplicably standing in them! Another one darted off. I kept crashing through the woods mimicking an elk and came upon a large brown rock with a dead tree trunk laying on top. I looked want it again and it had fur! Only a moment more and she, and her friend, also strode off. The last elk of the day bounded out of sight before I could flip the safety off. I didn't get my bull elk but I had a great time learning more about them and taking in the winter-wonderland views that is Colorado this time of year”.

Elk Track!


Lots of elk tracks


A herd of elk tracks


Elk Poop! Non elk hunters may not find this so interesting......


Elk track with elk urine. OK, so this is not rated PG, but still interesting to hunters.....


Ben, trying out my Fathers Day (handgun target) present


Side view of gunslinger Wild Ben