Fadgen's Adventures

Fadgen's Adventures
Green Creek Lake

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Opening of Nevada Chukar Hunting

This past weekend was the opening of chukar hunting in Nevada. Dylan and I drove down south to Battle Mountain, Nevada for our annual Nevada chukar hunting trip. We figured that this was the 13th or 14th consecutive year for the core group of us including JD, John Woods, Brian and myself. In addition to us four, this year included Dylan, Brian's friend Israel, Brian's son Alex, and Little John.

The past two years the hunting had been rather bleak in our normal hot spot so we figured that we would try out a couple of new hot spots. Saturday morning everyone but John and Little John took off for a short drive to the new hot spot. Unfortunately, the short drive turned into a couple of hours trying to figure out exactly where we needed to be. By the time we got to a good looking canyon, Brian and Israel had decided to head back to our old standby, so it was only JD, Dylan and myself. Turns out we made the right choice. We walked up the canyon a ways following a small creek and Dylan promptly picked up a couple of birds that had just finished watering. While he and JD continued up the canyon, I decided that I needed to head up the mountain in pursuit of the birds I could hear calling.

Once I got up a few hundred feet I started getting into some birds. An unbelievable thing happened on the second covey I jumped, I actually dropped three birds with one shot! Unreal.

The official count when I got back to the truck was JD 6 birds (limit), Dylan 2 birds, and me 5 birds. Upon getting back to camp we found out that John and Little John got into the birds right outside of camp and they ended up with a total of 11, with Little John limiting.

The next morning we thought that we might try and all hunt the same area. Funny how things never seem to work out like you planned. On the drive to the hunting spot we jumped a couple of coveys off the water. Dylan and I saw where one group landed and headed over to that spot. We were standing right in the middle of them as they flushed and he dropped three for a triple while I dropped two. The only problem was we couldn't find either of my birds. Dylan had gotten the fever by now and chased the remnants across the road and up another hill where he shot his forth. At this point all he was thinking about was a limit. The count was Dylan 4 birds and dad none.

When we got back to the truck all the other guys had moved on - presumably to the hunting spot. We drove on and stopped at a place called Moss Creek where John and Little John had stopped. As we got out of the truck they flushed a large covey and again we saw exactly where they landed. We headed over to the spot and Dylan promptly dropped a bird with a great passing shot. Onward and upward we headed before I saw a few birds on a knoll just above us. As we came over the top of it they flushed and Dylan dropped another for his limit. Amazingly he had shot his limit in the span of two hours! Lost in all this I picked up one bird myself.

We sat around with John and Little John and shot the shit for a while before we headed back to camp. I wasn't too worried about myself after Dylan getting his birds but I had him drop me off at the spot we got into the birds that morning. Lo and behold I ran into them again and managed to pick up three before calling it a day.

Later that afternoon the others came back all smiles. They had all limited up in the draw we were originally were supposed to meet at.

Finally tally was 60 birds between the seven hunters. Great weekend!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What a Week!

Saturday September 19th - Opening Day of Chukar Hunting

The morning dawned nice and clear with a forecast of a hot afternoon as Doug, Dylan and myself headed up Brownlee Reservoir for the opening day of chukar. We beached the boat and proceeded to head up the steep mountain. Unfortunately, as we started up we heard shooting above us - someone had beaten us to our secret spot. Turns out there were half a dozen guys up above us. It was very discouraging since they were doing all the shooting and we had yet to see any birds.

After Shadow found a bird that someone else had wounded the action started to pick up. I shot a couple more chukar before the big moment. Dylan flushed a couple of birds and dropped one with a nice passing shot. His first chukar! We continued to walk that mountain side and he flushed a couple more and shot another.

As the morning turned to afternoon it started to really warm up. Shadow was starting to get hot and it was time to head to water. As I dropped over a rise to a spring a large number of birds began flushing from below. I shot three times and dropped three birds. A triple! At this point we decided to head back down and take our chances on the birds that were below us. I picked up a few more on the way down and after reaching the boat the final bird tally was: Me - 5 chukar and 3 huns (Hungarian Partridge), Dylan - 2 chukar, and Doug - 1 chukar. Another great opening day.

Once home I changed out the bird hunting gear to archery elk hunting gear, took a shower and headed out for the five hour drive to Leadore, Idaho.

Sunday - Thursday September 20-24 - Archery Elk Hunting
My old college buddy Phil Gray and I have been archery elk hunting for the last 5 years in the mountains on the Idaho/Montana border. We have yet to have success but have had a great time listening to the bulls bugle and chasing them around. This week was more of the same.

Up early every morning, listening down drainages for bugles, bugling back listening for a response and then heading down to see if any elk wanted to play. Yes, headed down. We finally have reached the stage in our lives where going down is much better than going up.

Every day we were into the bulls but could not get close enough to to take a shot. They would respond to our calls but not come in for a look. Oh well, seems to be the story of our elk hunting episodes. But like always, Phil and I had a great time.

Friday Sept 25th - Wine Making
I got home early Thursday with a plan to pick grapes and start making some wine first thing Friday morning. I have been tending to a small patch of Syrah grapes for the last four years and this was to be my first harvest, albeit a small one. Since my grapes did not provide enough fruit to produce the amount of wine I wanted, I went out to Parma (about an hour away) to pick both Syrah and Malbec grapes at the University of Idaho extension field. They have an acre of these grapes and I had them all to myself. I spent a couple of hours picking grapes and ended up with several hundred pounds. After picking, I headed over to my local home brew supply shop to use her de-stemmer/crusher and now have 30 gallons of must happily fermenting at home.

Saturday Sept 26th - Hiking/Climbing Mt. Borah - 12,662 feet

Dylan has been after me for the last few weeks to get out and climb Idaho's highest peak. I figured with all the shit that had been happening this week that what the hell, another trip couldn't hurt. Tam decided that she should hang with us just in case, so the three of us piled into her car and headed to Mackey Idaho to spend the night in a motel. I was tired of camping.

We woke at 5AM and Dylan and I were on the trail with our headlamps by 6AM while Tam went back to the motel to sleep in. The Mt. Borah trail gains 5100 feet in a little over 3.5 miles. It was nice to be hiking in the dark so we could not see how painful the trail above us was going to be.
We slogged up the trail for four and a half hours and made the summit by 10:30AM.
The weather up top wasn't too bad. A little windy and cold. But what do you expect at 12,662 feet? We had a nice lunch and chatted with some of the other seven people on the summit. Two wild men had actually come up the night before and slept on top! After 45 minutes on top, we started down and came upon this sight at Chicken Out Ridge (COR).

COR is the only technical aspect of this hike. The trail becomes a maze of smaller trails as you climb up a couple hundred feet and then you have to down climb 30-40 feet to get to across a knife edge ridge. Apparently it's called Chicken Out Ridge because quite few people turn around here and head back down. There was over 20 people waiting on top of the ridge on their way to the summit. It was a good thing we started so early.

We skirted this traffic jam rather than wait a half hour for it to clear.

The 3 1/2 hour trip back to the trail head was hot and painful. Nothing but steep and dusty walking that was torture on the knees.
Here you can see the summit to the left of Dylan.

All in all a great time was had by Dylan and I as we conquered Idaho's highest peak.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Hunting Season's Finally Here!

It's the first weekend in September and we managed to squeeze in a quick grouse hunt in between traveling for work. Dylan, Doug, and I went up behind Bogus Basin to crash around in the brush looking for forest grouse. We didn't see many, in fact Dylan and I only saw one, but Dylan managed to bring him down. He can now mark off blue or dusky grouse from his list of birds. Good job Dylan!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Castle Peak - July 24-26

Dylan and I had been talking about climbing Castle Peak in the White Cloud Mountains for a few months and with the remaining summer schedule filling up I quickly decided that this was to be the weekend. Our plan was to spend a few days hiking around the peak while staying at a couple of different mountain lakes. I had read a trip report of a similar trip and with topo maps we headed out early Friday morning.

Friday's hike consisted of heading up from the 4th of July Lake trail head and crossing over a pass into Antz Basin and up to the Born Lakes. Once at Born Lakes we then slogged over a 10,000 foot scree pass overlooking Four Lakes Basin.
From here we dropped down to Four Lakes Basin and on down to Quiet Lake for the first night. It's a beautiful lake that is seldom visited, with an awesome view of the north face of Castle Peak. This side of the mountain is way beyond our skills to climb, our plan is the south face.
So we spent an uneventful evening trying to fish amongst all the mosquitoes. Dylan ended up catching a large rainbow trout on his second cast. We had him for an appetizer and didn't catch a single fish all weekend after that.

The next morning we packed up and were off to Chamberlain Basin. We left Quiet Lake at 9300 feet and dropped down to another lake at 8200 feet before picking up the main trail. From here it was a steady climb up over Castle Divide at 10,000 feet. Once on the divide it was only a couple more miles to reach Lake 9197 in Chamberlain Basin, our home for the night.

Sunday morning we woke at 7:00AM so we could get an early start up Castle Peak before it got too warm. Dylan fixed up his special crepe breakfast with homemade strawberry jam (Tam makes the best!) and we were off by 8:00AM. From reading other trip reports the climb up Castle requires taking a large gully that slopes to the west (the large gully going from right to left in the top photo). This gully takes you up to the ridge and then it's a short scramble to the summit. This all sounds very easy, the problem was that there was snow in the upper end of the gully requiring us to do a little route finding on the way up. After about three hours, and one bad decision where we had to reverse direction and take an alternate route, we made the summit at 11,815 feet.
From this vantage point, the highest in the White Clouds, you are supposed to be able to see over 20 lakes. We didn't count but there were definitely many to be seen.

The scramble down was a fun time as you can see, but we made it down without any problems.

Once we got down off the mountain and back to camp we packed up to leave. The plan was to head out to Washington Lake and spend Sunday night there. This would allow a short 2-3 mile out out to the trail head in the morning. I talked Dylan into heading all the way back to the car, stop in Stanley and get a pizza at Sawtooth Luce's, and to get home to spend the night in our beds. He agreed, but toward the end of the 8 mile hike out in the heat, I could hear him muttering to himself about someone's stupid idea. That is until he dug into the pizza...

All in all we figured we must have hiked 20 miles in the three days.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Carnage on the Payette River

Wednesday afternoon I went with some folks here at Preco for a leisurely river rafting trip down the South Fork of the Payette River. What started out to be an enjoyable trip turned into a bumper boat ride against the rocks. Unfortunately, the raft wasn't bumping the rocks - it was me and my rafting companions.

We had just talked about the odds of someone swimming while we were approaching Staircase rapids. Our guide didn't think there was much of a chance of anyone swimming. Not much sooner after he made this statement we high sided on a large rock at the beginning of this 1/4 mile long Class 4 rapid. Since the majority of the "large" guys were all on the downward side, the boat flipped and we all were pitched out.

Luckily no one was seriously hurt - just a few bruises from bumping around on the rocks.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bellas Lakes/Pyramid Peak - Copper Basin July 18

Once again it was time to pick Dylan up from camp. This time it was a Luther Heights Bible Camp trails camp. He had been backpacking in the White Cloud mountains from Monday through Friday and climbed a couple of 10,000 foot mountains. We thought we would surprise him with a short overnight camp followed by a hike.

We stashed the trailer outside Sun Valley and headed over Galena Summit to pick Dylan up at Lake Alturas. Once he was safely on board we headed back, hooked up the trailer and headed over Trail Creek Summit on the hour long dirt road into Copper Basin. A pretty uneventful hot night other than the ferocious mosquitoes!

The morning dawned clear and a little warm as we all headed up the 3 mile trail for Bellas Lakes. The hike was relatively short, taking us from about 7800 feet to 10,000 feet. It was gorgeous out, wildflowers were everywhere, very green and the bugs were not too bad - as long as you were moving. The plan was for the girls to kick back at the lakes and fish and read while Dylan and I attempted to climb Pyramid Peak.
After a little fishing at the first lake (Dylan caught 5 and I caught 2), we took a roundabout bushwhack up to the second lake. Here, the girls (including Shadow) bid us goodbye and we were off.

Pyramid Peak (above left) is a seldom climbed mountain in the Pioneer Range. There isn't a trail to the top, but after looking it up in "Idaho - A Climbing Guide" I knew we had to reach the east ridge to make the summit. The problem was, getting to the east ridge was an SOB. A lot of climbing in decomposed granite which is kind of like climbing in coarse sand - very tough on the legs. After obtaining the ridge, it was a short scramble to get close to the summit, followed by a steep little pitch to the top. At last, the summit at 11,628 feet.

This is one of the views we were rewarded with. (Click on the photo to blow it up) The lake on the left is the first lake we came to and the small spot of blue in the middle of the picture is where we left the girls.

Another view from the top:

Dylan and I scurried off the mountain quickly by boot skiing down the decomposed gravel and we even got in a short glissade down a patch of snow. All in all it took us 3 hours to summit and get back. A total of a little over 3800 vertical feet from camp to the summit.

Once back with the family, we all packed up and headed out for the warm hike back to camp. A beautiful day with all of us in an absolutely gorgeous place in the middle of nowhere.

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A team of adventurers consisting of John, Tamara, Taylor, Dylan, and Shadow Fadgen