Outdoors & Recreation
Life in Alaska

Honeymoon Sheep Hunt

Written by
Lewis D. Bradley

In 1970 my new bride, Carol, was not keen on the idea of me hunting alone, so she decided to tag along. She didn’t really know what she was in for. We had to pack 180 pounds of gear and food 10 miles to where we would set up a base camp on Icicle Creek in the Chugach Mountains. Our goal was to scout as much country as possible in the next three weeks, giving us the best chance of locating the biggest ram possible to hunt during our fourth week. Carol hauled 50 pounds in her pack and I had 130. She did really well. I have been on forced marches in the Army where guys packing less weight were dropping out because they weren’t tough enough to handle conditions less demanding than what she did. Just a few months earlier she was pregnant and miscarried at six months—an experience that takes a lot of strength to recover from. I was proud of her and happy she was with me.

We took along a good-sized aluminum wash pan for base camp, so Carol could bathe and wash clothes each time we returned for supplies. This was not a priority for me, but Carol felt that cleanliness was next to godliness. On the back of the pan I drew a picture of a large ram and wrote “45”er or Bust.”

The day after reaching our base camp was taken up building a shelter out of alders and Visqueen which would be left up for us to use when we returned from our spike camps. I threw a weighted parachute cord line over a high limb in a cottonwood tree and pulled up our extra supplies to be used for later excursions. That night, just as we were drifting off to sleep, a pack of coyotes cut loose maybe 50 yards away in the woods. Less than a minute later, their yelping and piercing cries were on the other side of us, fading into the distance. Carol said nothing until morning, when she let me know she had been scared.

Jumping a small branch of the river

The following day, we packed a week’s supply of food and lit out for Eagle Lake, at the head of Eagle River Valley. We crossed Eagle River, went up Camp Creek through Moraine Pass, and down Bird Creek into the North Fork of Ship Creek. We saw sheep and a few rams, but not the 45-incher I was looking for. We did find a nice set of 36-inch full curl horns from a winter kill. It started raining hard all day and night, so we left early for base camp. The heavy rains caused the river to rise significantly and water was flowing over the banks so I did not want to risk crossing with Carol. We made a lean-to against a cottonwood log that had been deposited when the water was even higher. There was plenty of wood to burn, so we planned on waiting for the water to go down before crossing. Carol’s face was really puffy from the strain so a day of rest was welcomed. However, one day grew into two and by the end of the third day, I’d had all the rest I could stand and we were running out of food. It was still raining the next morning and the water remained high. I picked a wide spot and tried something that has worked very well over the years on difficult crossings. I tied off the head of one of our army ponchos so it didn’t leak and secured our packs inside. Then I put my rifle, boots, and clothes on top and lashed everything down. It floated really well and gave me something to hang onto for balance and support as I walked it across the swift water to the far bank. I threw Carol a double line of parachute cord and kept it tight for her to hang onto as she crossed. A few hours later, we arrived back at base camp.

The following morning, we backtracked to Dishwater Creek, one drainage back from our base camp. A game trail paralleled the creek that eventually took us out of the alpine into the tundra where we set up a spike camp. On the far mountainside, 13 rams were digging in an area that was rich in minerals, a natural salt lick. We watched them for a couple hours. Two were really good, probably over 40 inches and more than full curls. Then we climbed to the top of the mountain and found a small old caribou antler and pieces of an airplane from an old crash.

We dropped down the following day and as we were preparing to cross the river, two old-timers were walking up the trail. They were in their 60s and very friendly. One was packing a military woodstove. We told them where we’d been and one said the airplane remains we had found were from his plane. He crashed attempting to land and crushed several vertebrae in his back and now he was over two inches shorter. They were headed for their cabin near where Camp Creek flows into Eagle River. The stove was the second destined for that cabin; the first was lost earlier while crossing the river.

After we said our goodbyes, we crossed the river near Heritage Falls to check out the area I’d hunted the year before. Carol is a flower buff and enjoyed the variety of mountain flowers. She also liked the pika and hoary marmots living in the boulder field leading into the Heritage Falls bowl on the backside of Mt. Organ and Polar Bear Peak. Black bears are abundant in this area and we saw three on our way in. We camped just above the boulder field and the next morning we woke up to see a nice billy goat 100 yards above us feeding unconcerned. I set up the spotting scope and found 13 rams spread out on a grassy slope. They eventually made their way to the skyline by late evening. Several rams were nice, but not huge, so we again returned to our main base camp on Icicle Creek.

Lewis cooking a camp meal. A set of horns lie on the ground above the fire.

We had just enough time left before sheep season opened to make one more trip and wanted to check out the side valley that harbored Icicle Creek. This last area was the most rugged of all the territory we had scouted. From the river, rams could be seen back near the glacier that supplied Icicle Creek, but it was too far to tell much more than they looked promising. A day’s climbing allowed us to position ourselves for a good look at the white specks we had seen from below. These rams were what we had hoped to find, and would be the ones we would try for, but first we had friends coming in to hunt.

Al Hassen was an Anchorage teacher we had met while attending Muldoon Road Baptist Church. He was bringing along one of his junior high students, Mark, who did not have a father. They arrived the day before the season started. Carol and I had been tromping around in these mountains for almost three weeks, and were down to fighting weights. Our lungs, stomachs and feet were toughened in.

Opening day, we had bluebird skies for crossing Eagle River, and climbing around Heritage Falls to our hunting destination. Carol and I would climb for five minutes and wait ten minutes for our friends to catch up. It was an easy day for us because of the previous three weeks’ conditioning. Later, as we cooked dinner, a billy goat, possibly the same one Carol and I had seen over a week earlier, worked his way down from the crags, descended to the front of the valley overlooking the river, and dropped over the edge. I hadn’t planned on getting a goat, but this was providence. I grabbed my pack, gun, and sleeping bag and followed it. The edge where he had gone over was almost vertical and he was bedded down on a ledge not far below. I climbed up about 100 yards, rolled out my bag, and tied it to some rocks to keep me from sliding or rolling down. I thought the goat would probably feed his way back up the mountain in the morning and he would have to go by me. I didn’t really sleep—more like dozed. I was awake, ready and waiting, an hour before dawn.

An hour after daybreak the billy popped up over the edge and stood staring down the mountain for another hour. Finally he turned and started straight for me with his head down. When he was well away from the edge of the mountain and about 75 yards from me, I shot, aiming for the hump in his back. The goat stopped, stiffened up, shook all over, and then proceeded to walk towards me. I fired again. This time the goat tumbled down the mountain coming to rest in the alders. Goats are blockier animals than sheep and more massively constructed, bone and muscle-wise. The first shot was two inches off his backbone, and did not knock him off his feet. The second shot was two inches from the first, but hit the spine. I had heard that these animals were tough. I was using 180 grain Nossler Partition ammo fired from a Weatherby .300 Magnum. That would have knocked the world’s strongest man for a loop, but not this goat, which was impressive.

Lewis shows off the sheep

I was back with the rest of the gang by noon. After breakfast and lunch rolled into one, I located a band of rams feeding less than a mile away. Al decided he and Mark would go after them. Carol and I watched the stalk which ended with both of them taking a ram, but when they shot, a band of close to a dozen rams boiled out on the other side of the ridge. They had been down in the cut feeding and escaped detection until now. The lead ram was really big. He led the others up to and across the glacier below Mt. Organ. Through the spotting scope I could see his wide sweeping horns that hung out wider than the ram’s shoulders, seemingly too big for his body. It was a hog and definitely a shooter—Boone and Crocket for sure, but where they went was impossible to follow. Al and Mark never saw the band of rams, which is a good example of how easily a fine ram can go undetected almost under your nose in rugged country.

Carol and I walked out with them to take care of our goat and carry out the set of sheep horns we had found. Al and his wife, Berta, were storing our belongings at their house. After our hunt, we planned to collect our things and drive down the Alcan to Oregon where I was scheduled to continue my education at the University of Oregon, since my service with the Army was over. Berta fixed us a good dinner. The warm shower and comfortable bed felt great, but the evening of the next day we returned to our Icicle base camp, anxious to go after our rams.

The sun had not yet peeked over the mountains the next morning as we departed, jumped across the creek and climbed about 300 yards up a shale slide opposite our camp. This gave us a good look at the mountain behind our camp. All total, we saw 17 full curls, not counting other sheep and goat. The two best rams were located about a quarter mile above the glacier that fed our creek. Their location allowed us to climb a long shale slide, circle around above them, and catch them bedded down on the lower edge of a boulder field that dropped almost straight off to the glacier. Clouds had rolled in and were spitting snow. We moved as close as we dared without being seen. I could see one ram’s horns well and he was big and heavy, but I wanted to see the other ram before making a decision. My thoughts were to shoot them as soon as they stood up and anchor them, fearing that if they were moving when we shot, they might go over and fall to the glacier a quarter mile below. However, the statement by Robert Burns, “The best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew,” seems appropriate here.

We were hunkered down and our sweaty bodies were beginning to shake as the temperature dropped. I was squirming around to stay warm, and the visible ram caught my movement and bolted. I didn’t have time to wait, so I put the cross hairs on the ram and downed him. Carol and I ran to our left, and caught the other ram coming up at us. We squatted down and as he came along side, I helped her hold the gun. He was so close, almost point blank, and she pulled the trigger. That would be her one and only ram, as she really doesn’t like the killing part. She has gone with me several times. She doesn’t mind that I hunt, and will help cut up the meat, but prefers not to shoot anything herself.

While I was working on my ram, Carol’s gave way, rolling 100 yards below my ram, and got hung up in a steep narrow slot. If it hadn’t hung up there, the next stop would have been the bottom. It was dangerous getting to her ram and I had to tie it to a rock in order to cape and bone it. Just packing her ram back to mine was harder than the pack back to our spike camp. Because it was getting dark, I didn’t peel the heads out of the capes to lighten the load until we were back at camp by the light of our fire. Then I threw a tape on the horns—both were over 40”. Needless to say, I was very happy, and would worry about the pack out after a good night’s rest!

Carol drinking tea from the comfort of her sleeping bag

Some things we do in life are repeaters, while others are a one-time affair. If I had the option to repeat this hunt with the same equipment and walking straight through the alders my answer would be, “No way!” It was torturous. Carol was packing all she could handle. I had around 150 pounds with two sets of horns tied to the back of the pack. As we floundered through the alders on our way out, a resounding thought like a stuck record was revolving in my head, Why did we shoot two rams? The horns constantly hung up on alder limbs, impeding my progress or flipping me on my back or face. Carol’s job was to free me of the alders, grab my pack, and help me get on my feet again. Many times, all I could do was crawl out of the pack, set it upright, sit down and put it on, and roll over onto my hands and knees before I could stand up again under all the weight.

We went higher to get out of the alders, but that got us into more trouble. The terrain became too steep, and we started seeing sheep again. To make matters worse, fog rolled in and we couldn’t see where we were going. Nightfall caught us in the alders on the side of the mountain that was anything but flat. There was room for only one sleeping bag, so we both crawled in and covered up with an army poncho. Alders gouged us for the next eight hours. I think we stayed half way warm from constantly moving around. The bag was soaked from our own body heat that condensed because it couldn’t escape through the non-breathable poncho. That night was without a doubt the most miserable either of us has ever endured.

We prayed for the fog to lift by morning so we could descend safely. Our prayers were heard, and at daybreak we were glad to have alders to hang onto as we worked our way back to the more gradual slope with a slightly improved attitude towards the alder abyss. At least it was only difficult going, and not dangerous as well. Eventually we arrived at the one really steep section about an hour from the valley floor. I had 100 feet of ¼-inch mountain climbing rope I doubled around alder bases and rocks as anchors. I took both packs down one at a time, and when Carol got down, I let go of one side of the rope and pulled it down. We did this several times to get down safely.

I venture to say that our experience was tougher than 90% of sheep hunts. Many hunters would not have finished the course. They would have pitched the load, and bagged the hunt. I am lucky to still be married. After such a hunt, one might expect that the honeymoon was over, but we have enjoyed 49 years together after that ordeal. Lesser women would have thrown in the towel, and asked for a refund on the honeymoon expenses due to poor accommodations or possibly even an annulment, vowing to get as far away from this guy as possible!

Forty years later in 2010, Carol and I were in our 60s and ventured on another sheep hunt with our son. We packed in 25 miles from the trailhead, and returned in snow at the end of September. Ice was forming on the streams, and it was cold. It was not as demanding as our 1970 hunt, but Carol was not 23 either. I truly believe that the confidence she gained from those earlier hunts, when we were young, helped her find out what she is made of, and developed a grit that truly helps carry her through whatever life throws her way. That and the fact that she trusts in God to deliver her in times of peril makes her one tough gal!

No items found.

Honeymoon Sheep Hunt

Outdoors & Recreation
Life in Alaska

Author

Lewis D. Bradley

Lewis D. Bradley, known as Coach Bradley to most of his students, arrived in Alaska in 1968, with the US Army. After completing his tour of duty, he returned in 1973 to begin his teaching and coaching career in Wasilla, Alaska, spanning the next 35 years. After retiring he took up antler, horn, and bone carving which fit well with his love for hunting and fishing. He spent 11 years researching and writing his masterpiece, Rampages, a three volume set of books about the history of Dall sheep and the hunting of them up to 2018. While it includes many of his own stories, hundreds of other Alaskan hunters are featured in a mix of Alaska history dating back to 1914. Lewis served a three-year term on Alaska's Board of Game, giving him an education and exposure into the management and plight of Alaska's Dall sheep populations. Rampages' stories and characters are real, and are a record of many individuals who helped settle this state, capturing their place in Alaska's history before being lost in time. If your are interested in Alaska history, early pioneers, hunting, the management of Alaska's game, and the biology of Dall sheep, then this collection of 1280 photos and over 1800 pages is worth checking out at www.rampages123.com

In 1970 my new bride, Carol, was not keen on the idea of me hunting alone, so she decided to tag along. She didn’t really know what she was in for. We had to pack 180 pounds of gear and food 10 miles to where we would set up a base camp on Icicle Creek in the Chugach Mountains. Our goal was to scout as much country as possible in the next three weeks, giving us the best chance of locating the biggest ram possible to hunt during our fourth week. Carol hauled 50 pounds in her pack and I had 130. She did really well. I have been on forced marches in the Army where guys packing less weight were dropping out because they weren’t tough enough to handle conditions less demanding than what she did. Just a few months earlier she was pregnant and miscarried at six months—an experience that takes a lot of strength to recover from. I was proud of her and happy she was with me.

We took along a good-sized aluminum wash pan for base camp, so Carol could bathe and wash clothes each time we returned for supplies. This was not a priority for me, but Carol felt that cleanliness was next to godliness. On the back of the pan I drew a picture of a large ram and wrote “45”er or Bust.”

The day after reaching our base camp was taken up building a shelter out of alders and Visqueen which would be left up for us to use when we returned from our spike camps. I threw a weighted parachute cord line over a high limb in a cottonwood tree and pulled up our extra supplies to be used for later excursions. That night, just as we were drifting off to sleep, a pack of coyotes cut loose maybe 50 yards away in the woods. Less than a minute later, their yelping and piercing cries were on the other side of us, fading into the distance. Carol said nothing until morning, when she let me know she had been scared.

Jumping a small branch of the river

The following day, we packed a week’s supply of food and lit out for Eagle Lake, at the head of Eagle River Valley. We crossed Eagle River, went up Camp Creek through Moraine Pass, and down Bird Creek into the North Fork of Ship Creek. We saw sheep and a few rams, but not the 45-incher I was looking for. We did find a nice set of 36-inch full curl horns from a winter kill. It started raining hard all day and night, so we left early for base camp. The heavy rains caused the river to rise significantly and water was flowing over the banks so I did not want to risk crossing with Carol. We made a lean-to against a cottonwood log that had been deposited when the water was even higher. There was plenty of wood to burn, so we planned on waiting for the water to go down before crossing. Carol’s face was really puffy from the strain so a day of rest was welcomed. However, one day grew into two and by the end of the third day, I’d had all the rest I could stand and we were running out of food. It was still raining the next morning and the water remained high. I picked a wide spot and tried something that has worked very well over the years on difficult crossings. I tied off the head of one of our army ponchos so it didn’t leak and secured our packs inside. Then I put my rifle, boots, and clothes on top and lashed everything down. It floated really well and gave me something to hang onto for balance and support as I walked it across the swift water to the far bank. I threw Carol a double line of parachute cord and kept it tight for her to hang onto as she crossed. A few hours later, we arrived back at base camp.

The following morning, we backtracked to Dishwater Creek, one drainage back from our base camp. A game trail paralleled the creek that eventually took us out of the alpine into the tundra where we set up a spike camp. On the far mountainside, 13 rams were digging in an area that was rich in minerals, a natural salt lick. We watched them for a couple hours. Two were really good, probably over 40 inches and more than full curls. Then we climbed to the top of the mountain and found a small old caribou antler and pieces of an airplane from an old crash.

We dropped down the following day and as we were preparing to cross the river, two old-timers were walking up the trail. They were in their 60s and very friendly. One was packing a military woodstove. We told them where we’d been and one said the airplane remains we had found were from his plane. He crashed attempting to land and crushed several vertebrae in his back and now he was over two inches shorter. They were headed for their cabin near where Camp Creek flows into Eagle River. The stove was the second destined for that cabin; the first was lost earlier while crossing the river.

After we said our goodbyes, we crossed the river near Heritage Falls to check out the area I’d hunted the year before. Carol is a flower buff and enjoyed the variety of mountain flowers. She also liked the pika and hoary marmots living in the boulder field leading into the Heritage Falls bowl on the backside of Mt. Organ and Polar Bear Peak. Black bears are abundant in this area and we saw three on our way in. We camped just above the boulder field and the next morning we woke up to see a nice billy goat 100 yards above us feeding unconcerned. I set up the spotting scope and found 13 rams spread out on a grassy slope. They eventually made their way to the skyline by late evening. Several rams were nice, but not huge, so we again returned to our main base camp on Icicle Creek.

Lewis cooking a camp meal. A set of horns lie on the ground above the fire.

We had just enough time left before sheep season opened to make one more trip and wanted to check out the side valley that harbored Icicle Creek. This last area was the most rugged of all the territory we had scouted. From the river, rams could be seen back near the glacier that supplied Icicle Creek, but it was too far to tell much more than they looked promising. A day’s climbing allowed us to position ourselves for a good look at the white specks we had seen from below. These rams were what we had hoped to find, and would be the ones we would try for, but first we had friends coming in to hunt.

Al Hassen was an Anchorage teacher we had met while attending Muldoon Road Baptist Church. He was bringing along one of his junior high students, Mark, who did not have a father. They arrived the day before the season started. Carol and I had been tromping around in these mountains for almost three weeks, and were down to fighting weights. Our lungs, stomachs and feet were toughened in.

Opening day, we had bluebird skies for crossing Eagle River, and climbing around Heritage Falls to our hunting destination. Carol and I would climb for five minutes and wait ten minutes for our friends to catch up. It was an easy day for us because of the previous three weeks’ conditioning. Later, as we cooked dinner, a billy goat, possibly the same one Carol and I had seen over a week earlier, worked his way down from the crags, descended to the front of the valley overlooking the river, and dropped over the edge. I hadn’t planned on getting a goat, but this was providence. I grabbed my pack, gun, and sleeping bag and followed it. The edge where he had gone over was almost vertical and he was bedded down on a ledge not far below. I climbed up about 100 yards, rolled out my bag, and tied it to some rocks to keep me from sliding or rolling down. I thought the goat would probably feed his way back up the mountain in the morning and he would have to go by me. I didn’t really sleep—more like dozed. I was awake, ready and waiting, an hour before dawn.

An hour after daybreak the billy popped up over the edge and stood staring down the mountain for another hour. Finally he turned and started straight for me with his head down. When he was well away from the edge of the mountain and about 75 yards from me, I shot, aiming for the hump in his back. The goat stopped, stiffened up, shook all over, and then proceeded to walk towards me. I fired again. This time the goat tumbled down the mountain coming to rest in the alders. Goats are blockier animals than sheep and more massively constructed, bone and muscle-wise. The first shot was two inches off his backbone, and did not knock him off his feet. The second shot was two inches from the first, but hit the spine. I had heard that these animals were tough. I was using 180 grain Nossler Partition ammo fired from a Weatherby .300 Magnum. That would have knocked the world’s strongest man for a loop, but not this goat, which was impressive.

Lewis shows off the sheep

I was back with the rest of the gang by noon. After breakfast and lunch rolled into one, I located a band of rams feeding less than a mile away. Al decided he and Mark would go after them. Carol and I watched the stalk which ended with both of them taking a ram, but when they shot, a band of close to a dozen rams boiled out on the other side of the ridge. They had been down in the cut feeding and escaped detection until now. The lead ram was really big. He led the others up to and across the glacier below Mt. Organ. Through the spotting scope I could see his wide sweeping horns that hung out wider than the ram’s shoulders, seemingly too big for his body. It was a hog and definitely a shooter—Boone and Crocket for sure, but where they went was impossible to follow. Al and Mark never saw the band of rams, which is a good example of how easily a fine ram can go undetected almost under your nose in rugged country.

Carol and I walked out with them to take care of our goat and carry out the set of sheep horns we had found. Al and his wife, Berta, were storing our belongings at their house. After our hunt, we planned to collect our things and drive down the Alcan to Oregon where I was scheduled to continue my education at the University of Oregon, since my service with the Army was over. Berta fixed us a good dinner. The warm shower and comfortable bed felt great, but the evening of the next day we returned to our Icicle base camp, anxious to go after our rams.

The sun had not yet peeked over the mountains the next morning as we departed, jumped across the creek and climbed about 300 yards up a shale slide opposite our camp. This gave us a good look at the mountain behind our camp. All total, we saw 17 full curls, not counting other sheep and goat. The two best rams were located about a quarter mile above the glacier that fed our creek. Their location allowed us to climb a long shale slide, circle around above them, and catch them bedded down on the lower edge of a boulder field that dropped almost straight off to the glacier. Clouds had rolled in and were spitting snow. We moved as close as we dared without being seen. I could see one ram’s horns well and he was big and heavy, but I wanted to see the other ram before making a decision. My thoughts were to shoot them as soon as they stood up and anchor them, fearing that if they were moving when we shot, they might go over and fall to the glacier a quarter mile below. However, the statement by Robert Burns, “The best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew,” seems appropriate here.

We were hunkered down and our sweaty bodies were beginning to shake as the temperature dropped. I was squirming around to stay warm, and the visible ram caught my movement and bolted. I didn’t have time to wait, so I put the cross hairs on the ram and downed him. Carol and I ran to our left, and caught the other ram coming up at us. We squatted down and as he came along side, I helped her hold the gun. He was so close, almost point blank, and she pulled the trigger. That would be her one and only ram, as she really doesn’t like the killing part. She has gone with me several times. She doesn’t mind that I hunt, and will help cut up the meat, but prefers not to shoot anything herself.

While I was working on my ram, Carol’s gave way, rolling 100 yards below my ram, and got hung up in a steep narrow slot. If it hadn’t hung up there, the next stop would have been the bottom. It was dangerous getting to her ram and I had to tie it to a rock in order to cape and bone it. Just packing her ram back to mine was harder than the pack back to our spike camp. Because it was getting dark, I didn’t peel the heads out of the capes to lighten the load until we were back at camp by the light of our fire. Then I threw a tape on the horns—both were over 40”. Needless to say, I was very happy, and would worry about the pack out after a good night’s rest!

Carol drinking tea from the comfort of her sleeping bag

Some things we do in life are repeaters, while others are a one-time affair. If I had the option to repeat this hunt with the same equipment and walking straight through the alders my answer would be, “No way!” It was torturous. Carol was packing all she could handle. I had around 150 pounds with two sets of horns tied to the back of the pack. As we floundered through the alders on our way out, a resounding thought like a stuck record was revolving in my head, Why did we shoot two rams? The horns constantly hung up on alder limbs, impeding my progress or flipping me on my back or face. Carol’s job was to free me of the alders, grab my pack, and help me get on my feet again. Many times, all I could do was crawl out of the pack, set it upright, sit down and put it on, and roll over onto my hands and knees before I could stand up again under all the weight.

We went higher to get out of the alders, but that got us into more trouble. The terrain became too steep, and we started seeing sheep again. To make matters worse, fog rolled in and we couldn’t see where we were going. Nightfall caught us in the alders on the side of the mountain that was anything but flat. There was room for only one sleeping bag, so we both crawled in and covered up with an army poncho. Alders gouged us for the next eight hours. I think we stayed half way warm from constantly moving around. The bag was soaked from our own body heat that condensed because it couldn’t escape through the non-breathable poncho. That night was without a doubt the most miserable either of us has ever endured.

We prayed for the fog to lift by morning so we could descend safely. Our prayers were heard, and at daybreak we were glad to have alders to hang onto as we worked our way back to the more gradual slope with a slightly improved attitude towards the alder abyss. At least it was only difficult going, and not dangerous as well. Eventually we arrived at the one really steep section about an hour from the valley floor. I had 100 feet of ¼-inch mountain climbing rope I doubled around alder bases and rocks as anchors. I took both packs down one at a time, and when Carol got down, I let go of one side of the rope and pulled it down. We did this several times to get down safely.

I venture to say that our experience was tougher than 90% of sheep hunts. Many hunters would not have finished the course. They would have pitched the load, and bagged the hunt. I am lucky to still be married. After such a hunt, one might expect that the honeymoon was over, but we have enjoyed 49 years together after that ordeal. Lesser women would have thrown in the towel, and asked for a refund on the honeymoon expenses due to poor accommodations or possibly even an annulment, vowing to get as far away from this guy as possible!

Forty years later in 2010, Carol and I were in our 60s and ventured on another sheep hunt with our son. We packed in 25 miles from the trailhead, and returned in snow at the end of September. Ice was forming on the streams, and it was cold. It was not as demanding as our 1970 hunt, but Carol was not 23 either. I truly believe that the confidence she gained from those earlier hunts, when we were young, helped her find out what she is made of, and developed a grit that truly helps carry her through whatever life throws her way. That and the fact that she trusts in God to deliver her in times of peril makes her one tough gal!

No items found.

Author

Lewis D. Bradley

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