Monday, September 30, 2013

Cooking Up Some Tuna Filets in SoCal!

Last week, while reading through posts on Facebook, I came across a post from Joe Sarmiento, author of the well-known SoCal Salty Blog. If you don't know Joe, he's an avid saltwater fisherman and has a solid following around SoCal. His post read:
I know this sounds crazy, but I'm getting burnt out on eating tuna and yellowtail. Gonna switch things up today and eat rockfish.
This garnered my attention immediately, so I half-jokingly mentioned we should trade some tuna for some elk. Within a few minutes, we had set up a time the next day to meet up and make an exchange. Score!

Joe and I had chatted online through email or FB for a while about saltwater fishing, but had never met. The next day we met up, made a great trade, and shared a few recipes off the top of our heads. To be honest, I had never made my own tuna steaks or yellowtail before and I couldn't wait to try some recipes out. I have had plenty of tuna steak in my day and it's one of my favorite foods, but yellowtail was new to me. Even still, I was ready to try my hand at cooking and eating some fresh fish!

The filets were already thawed out, so I had to figure out what I wanted to do with them rather quickly. I split the grilling up into two days. Day one would be tuna steaks and day two would be yellowtail burgers. Joe messaged me with his ideas for his elk meat. First off, some elk chili and then some grilled steaks. Yeah buddy!

Joe has some great recipes on his blog and I just used a variation of his. What I want to share with you is how I prepared it in case you want to do the same or a variation of the same. 
With most fish it is recommended you use lemon juice. My dilemma was that I have a lime tree. So, instead of worrying about it I opted to use limes for a little more tang.  I apologize for the photos. I was in a hurry to snap pics with my phone and get to eating!

Tuna Steak Recipe


6 tuna filets (any size will work)

2 large limes (cut in half)

3-4 scallions

1 jalapeno

Sea Salt

Crushed black pepper

Camp Dog Cajun Seasoning

Prep Time: 5-8 minutes

Every grill is different, so preheat your grill to where it will sear the meat as soon as it hits the grate. I hope you aren't one of those people that has to clean your grill each and every time. Leave it seasoned! If you leave it seasoned you won't have the tuna filet stick to the grate.

Take a large bowl (one that will fit at least two filets at a time and squeeze the limes to get all of the juice out. If you are having trouble, use a fork on the inside and twist. Add in a tablespoon of sea salt. Don't add any more than that right now. Dissolve the salt in the lime juice.

Appetizer: Take the largest filet and slice off 6-10 half inch cuts (or more depending on how many you have over). Lay them in the lime juice and by the time you get to the other end you can flip them from start to finish. Take them out and lay them on a small plate. Don't add any more seasoning to these.

Add in two of the filets for about 30 seconds per side. You really don't need more than that. Flip, repeat, and then take them out and place them on a plate. When you have all six filets on a plate, sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper over the top of half of them, flip, and repeat. For the other three filets, cover them with Camp Dog Cajun Seasoning, flip, and repeat.

Tuna filets ready for the grill.

Grill Time!

For the Appetizer: Use the top rack of the grill and lay down each slice of tuna. Close the grill for 30 seconds, open and flip them over. Close the grill again and 30 seconds later you have tasty tuna apps. I ate mine right off the grill and they were so good!

Tuna appetizers make the grilling experience that much better!

Lay the filets on the grill, with the heat still med-high. Let them sear on one side for 20 seconds and then turn the heat down. My filets were super thick, so I left them on one side for six minutes. Flip them and leave them for another 5-6 minutes. If they are thinner steaks, reduce the grill time. Over cooking will certainly dry them out!

While the tuna is being grilled to perfection, chop up the scallions and jalapeno. Mix them together as these will garnish the top of the steak. You can have soy sauce and such, too, but I don't use it much. And I don't believe in useless garnishes. If you are going to put it on my plate I had better be able to eat it. Plus, it should taste good!

Tasty eats that will fill you up!

I like my tuna med-rare and that is precisely how these came out, except for the one I sliced down a bit (see photo). That came out medium-well, but still very tasty. Garnish with the scallions and jalapeno, serve with some salad or maybe some fruit and dig in!

Tomorrow I'll share a yellowtail burger recipe. My own take on it!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Recognizes National Hunting and Fishing Day

Just a reminder from the CA DFW (press release)...

National Hunting and Fishing Day will be celebrated this year on Sept. 28. In conjunction with this annual tradition, the Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds Californians of the many opportunities to enjoy hunting and fishing in the Golden State and thanks them for their contribution to conservation.

Hunting and fishing are time-honored aspects of our American heritage,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “Our efforts to preserve California’s pristine wildlife habitats are supported by the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses and we commend hunters and anglers for the vital role they play in the conservation of our natural resources.”

President Richard Nixon signed the first proclamation of National Hunting and Fishing Day in 1972. It is honored on the fourth Saturday in September each year to promote outdoor sports and conservation.

California is the third-largest state in the nation and about half of its land is publicly owned. That translates into millions of acres of huntable public property and CDFW offers varied hunting opportunities across the state.

Fishing opportunities also abound in the more than 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, 4,172 lakes and reservoirs and 80 major rivers in California. The state also features more than 1,100 miles of coastline that is home to hundreds of fish and shellfish species. CDFW even offers two “free fishing” days each year in the state – prospective anglers received those opportunities on July 6 and Sept. 7 of this year.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Product Review: SuperFeet merinoGrey Insoles

When you are hunting, blisters, swollen arches and bruised bones are the LAST thing you want to be thinking about because they will totally ruin a hunt. On my elk hunt last year, my boots were great. They felt awesome, but the bottoms of my feet suffered. I didn't have the right insoles in there and my feet paid the price. Plus, my bones took a mean bruising from the punishment of the Rockies. Not this year my friends! For the past month I have been using the SuperFeet merinoGrey insoles and my feet are the happiest they have ever been!

About two months ago I asked my Twitter followers what other bowhunters recommended for their hunting insoles. Nearly all of the recommendations were to try SuperFeet and that I wouldn't be disappointed.  A big Thank You to all who responded! I opted for the merinoGREY because I would be hunting in dramatically different temperatures. Some days it would be 95 degrees and others it would be 20 degrees. I needed to find a pair of insoles that would work, ideally, in both ranges.

After a few emails and a call to SuperFeet, I was informed that the merinoGrey I had chosen should be a great fit. I figured that they have been making insoles for over 35 years, so I should listen. I placed my order and a few days later they arrived. Right out of the box I noticed the design was something I had never seen before. The padding was layered quite different than the insoles that came with the boots. I didn't have to cut them to size as they fit perfectly into my boots.

The insoles that came with the boots (TOP) and the SuperFeet merinoGREY (BOTTOM) are vastly different.

The merinoGREY insoles combine natural, thermoregulating merino wool with Superfeet’s legendary support and performance. The result is a supportive insole with a soft, felted merino wool top that will keep your feet warmer when it’s chilly, and cooler when it’s hot. So whether you’re walking in the city or running a mountain trail, the comfortable support you feel will be with you all year long.

The true test was going to be seeing how they would work. As feet should be taken care of on a hunt, I first wore my boots, complete with SuperFeet insoles to the archery range. It was a warm day, but my feet felt great! The packaging states to wear them a couple hours the first time and to increase time after that to break them in. I wanted to be sure to follow the directions to be sure my feet were taken care of.

My next test was going to be the make or break for me. Ahead of me was a six mile hike with my wife. She was wearing running shoes and I my hunting boots with SuperFeet merinoGrey insoles. I also loaded 15 lbs into a backpack for good measure.The temperature was 90+ and it was humid. Time to see if the insoles held up. I hiked those hills like I was wearing sneakers. The SuperFeet felt THAT good. My wife thought I was insane wearing wool socks, wool insoles, and leather hiking boots, but my feet felt great. If they can handle the heat and the hills in SoCal, then they should be able to handle the mountains next year.

So far, these insoles were heaven to my feet. Now that I liked them and they felt great, it was time to take them hunting. I loaded up my pack with water, food, gear and it weighed in around 45#.  Twice now I have worn my boots hunting with the SuperFeet insoles and not once have I complained about sore feet, hot feet or wet feet. I have had zero blisters, no beat up bones, and no swollen arches. These are the very best insoles I have ever used.


  • Superior comfort
  • Easy to use
  • Work in hot or cold temps
  • 60-day comfort guarantee
  • Your feet feel great!

Cons: None as far as I can see.

At $44.95 per pair they seem pricey, but your feet are worth it. Trust me on that. You can spend $10 for cheap rubber insoles at a department store and be miserable, or you can drop the $45 for SuperFeet and never look back.

Overall, the SuperFeet merinoGREY insoles are top notch and they will work in everyday shoes, too. If they work for the grueling hikes when hunting the mountains, just imagine how good your feet will feel during your work day. I highly recommend these to anyone looking to take care of your feet on any hunt. My feet thank you, SuperFeet!

You can follow SuperFeet on Facebook and Twitter for updates!
Twitter: @superfeet
Facebook: /Superfeet

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Father/Daughter Backyard Camping Trip

Camping has always been a part of my childhood that I love to reminisce about; the cooking out under the stars, the long hikes to nowhere, and the adventure of sleeping behind four walls of nylon. As a kid, you never really think about the work involved and planning that takes place. To be honest, that's the way it should be! This past weekend, I took my daughter on her first camping experience and wanted her to remember it well.

Riley and I have talked about camping for a while now and there always seemed to be something that threw the plan off. Not this weekend! We had one night to camp and we decided to do it urban style... right in the backyard.

This would be Riley's first ever camp out. I wanted to make it memorable in the best possible way for her. She would only see the FUN side of camping. My goal for the night was to make it so enjoyable she asked to camp again. As parents, we should focus on these things with our children. They will learn about the work and tough stuff as they grow, but showing them the fun side and allowing them to be kids is something many of us lose sight of.

As I started to pull down the sleeping bags, pads and tent from the garage, Riley asked me if she could help. A four year old asking if she can help. I wasn't going to make her do anything, but I knew if I allowed her to help, no matter how long it might take to set up camp, she would remember it. Handing her a sleeping bag, she claimed it was too heavy, so I said I would take it. Immediately she responded with, 'No, I can do it.' That's my girl!

Setting up the tent was wonderful in many ways. First, she wanted to help me unfold it and get it in the right place, which she did with a smile. I showed her how to put the poles together, but knowing full well they would be too much for her to handle I said I could do them and she could go on an adventure. Even in our 150 sq. ft. back yard there is an adventure to be had. Once I had the poles together and began erecting the tent, she watched in amazement. She had so many questions and I absolutely loved it!

With the tent up, we set off to get the pads and bags in and ready to sleep. She was a big help the entire way and I could tell she really enjoyed it. I was sure to tell her that a tent is not complete without stuffed animals and a few books to read, and she promptly agreed. Inside the house we went for pillows, books, and stuffed companions. Watching her try to carry out six large stuffed animals was great. This time she let me help carry a few, just so they wouldn't get dirty.

Once it cooled down and night had fallen, my wife made a trip to the store to surprise us with S'more fixings! A lack of a fire pit didn't slow us down as we roasted marshmallows over the gas stove and made the best S'mores ever! Riley agrees that S'mores are a great dessert, no matter what the occasion.

I didn't tell her, but I was going to let Riley stay up late and have fun. We read some stories, but most of all she wanted to hear about my camping adventures when I was young. It was a great opportunity to tell her about the adventures her Grandpa Q, Uncle Ben, and I went on in my youth. She soaked up every word and I enjoyed sharing every single story. I had a great childhood and was able to experience so much because my parents were creative and fun. I wanted to be sure to return the favor.

Shadow puppets and listening to some of her stories followed and before long I could see her eyes getting heavy. After our bedtime prayers, we lay down and went to sleep. Well, she did. She slept well while our neighbors’ dog flipped over plastic tubs or something for a couple hours in their garage and that kept me up. Then there was the sprawling out and feet in my face as Riley moved around in her sleep. I honestly had to laugh because she was sleeping in a tent for the first time and I was happy. I was able to get some sleep, but woke up at 7:00 AM ready for coffee. Wouldn't you know it, a few minutes later, Riley popped up and said, 'Good morning Daddy!' She immediately wanted to call Mommy on the walkie-talkie and after a quick, ‘We had better not do that at 7:00 AM on a Saturday,’ she decided to read me a few nursery rhymes.

Soon after, she wanted to open the zipped up window to see what was outside. Our resident hummingbird was there to greet us just before getting his breakfast. Riley pointed him out, along with a few other birds. It was great. Riley was all smiles and ready to play in the tent. She said she had enjoyed a great night of camping with her dad...and you know what? So did I.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bowhunting Optics: Benefits, Use and Care

Over the years, I have truly grown to appreciate the benefits of quality optics for bowhunting. I have been bowhunting for nearly 30 years, but I never truly grasped the importance of good optics until roughly six years ago. That's when I started hunting the foothills and deserts of Southern California. The value of my optics far outweighs the price tag and it took some convincing.

Quite honestly, I figured any binoculars would work. When I would go in search of deer, I used my $25.00 pair and couldn't figure out why I would get headaches all the time. Eye strain, eye fatigue, and cloudy lenses are some of the reasons why. The simple truth is you get what you pay for! There is a reason why quality binoculars are more expensive.

When I began hunting in NY, I didn’t feel the need to routinely use binoculars or a spotting scope. I was 20 feet up in a tree waiting for a whitetail to walk by. I used binoculars only to locate deer in the farmers’ fields in hope I could set up a stand or ambush them from another direction. After my move to California, I learned quickly that the binoculars I had were useless for hunting the West. Out here it's about spotting your animal from a long distance (sometimes two miles or more) and then making an approach to spot and stalk. Plus, like many states, we have an antler restriction and having a quality binocular or spotting scope will help you determine if that buck is legal or not.

As a member of the MINOX Hunting Optics Adventure Team, I am going to give you a taste of what I am using for bowhunting here in California. For my hog hunting and deer hunting, I am utilizing the MINOX BL 10x44 binoculars. They are lightweight, crystal clear and are an incredible tool in helping me effectively spot animals. I don’t get eye fatigue and often glass for hours with them.

For long range acquisition, my hunting partner, Brett has been field testing the MINOX BL 15x56 binoculars mounted to a tripod. He finds them extremely useful and has been able to determine the legality of more than a few deer. Unfortunately, the interpupillary distance (distance between the centers of the pupils of your eyes) doesn’t allow me to comfortably appreciate the 15x56 binoculars. That being said, most of my long range viewing will be through a spotting scope, like the MD50. I know plenty of other hunters that prefer spotting scopes. While I am a believer that you can judge an animal better by using two eyes vs. one, in this case genetics forces me to make an exception. Be sure to try out binoculars before you buy to be sure you are comfortable with them.

Caring for your optics is very important. Next to your archery set-up, care of your optics should be next on your priority list. If you are like many who use the manufacturer provided neck strap or a simple harness to carry your binoculars, you should use the lens covers the manufacturer provides. If you find them cumbersome (like me), you can remove them for each hunt, but be sure to protect them when in the field. I prefer to use a fully-enclosed chest pack like the Binocular Chest Pack from Badlands. It allows easy, zipperless access to the binoculars, but also protects them when kicking up sand and dirt. If you do happen to get sand on them (especially in the eyecups), be sure to clean out the dirt and grime after each hunt. Sand will scratch up your lenses fast! Don’t use a cloth and try to rub the dirt off! Instead use some sort of compressed air to blow out debris, thus protecting your investment.

Utilizing a tripod with your binoculars is a key component when scouting for animals out West. Mounting your binoculars to a tripod reduces the ‘shake’ to nearly zero and you can keenly focus on more things.  Hand holding your binoculars are fine, but not entirely steady, causing your eyes to dance around. It is a must have for hunters having to glass long distance and for long periods of time. A tripod will turn a decent pair of binoculars into a better pair of binoculars.

As a hunter and a photographer, I prefer a carbon fiber tripod. First off, it is a quiet material and doesn’t make a clanking sound if you accidentally hit it. Second, there is little to no glare when the sun hits the legs. Aluminum (silver or black) will cast a glare, allowing animals to spot you easier. Sure, a carbon fiber tripod weighs more and can be more bulky than aluminum, but I love how it performs in the field. 

The best advice I can offer to any hunter looking to purchase quality optics is to buy the best optics you can. Don’t settle on something cheap. If you have to save for a couple years, do it. You do get what you pay for and purchasing a high quality binocular and spotting scope will drastically improve your ability to clearly view animals while hunting. Take is from a guy who has been there. Once you have them, take care of them and they will last you a lifetime.

Monday, September 16, 2013

First Impressions: Badlands Enduro Pant

Comfortable, camouflage apparel for the hot, arid climate of Southern California can be difficult to find. When Badlands came out with their new apparel line in 2012 I was one of the fortunate ones to be able to test it out. For the past few weeks I have been field testing the 2013 Enduro Pant and I am impressed!

Out of the box they felt extremely comfortable and offer a wide range of motion. The pockets allow my hands to easily go in and out and there is a great zip up pocket on the right hand side that fits my phone perfectly. My first thought was that these pants would be entirely too warm for hunting in SoCal. They have the Biothermic shell and I normally wear a much thinner pant for hunting in the high desert.  So I wore them to the archery range when it was hot and humid. I chose the archery range because I wanted to get a feel for the pants as I shot my bow. I was very pleased that even though they felt a bit warm, I was never uncomfortable.

Now was going to be a true test - wearing them out hunting in the desert. I chose a day to wear them that most people would think I was crazy. The weatherman forecasted a temperature of 95-100 degrees. Insane, right? What I was about to do was a bit on the extreme side, but we hunt in extreme temps out here.

When I hit the trail, I had my snake gaiters over the top of my pants covering my shins. We hiked and hiked. At around two miles in we stopped to make a plan. I had been paying attention to the pants the entire hike. Very easy to walk in, no noise at all (major plus), and even though I was sweating the pants kept me cool. I liked that and was hoping it would carry on throughout the day.

While this might come out funny, the one thing that I noticed was the crotch seems to fit a bit tight where it doesn't allow full range of motion. I attributed that to a brand new pair of pants that need to be broken in a bit more.

Hiking through the brush the pants were quiet, there were no snags, and they were some of the most comfortable pants I have worn. Normally i will get a pair of pants and they will fit in the waist and the legs will be too large. Or the legs fit well and the waist is too tight. The Enduro pant fit me both in the waistline AND the legs giving me a near perfect fit.

As we hiked out in the near 100 degree temps the pants kept me cool and felt great. I will be field testing them more throughout the season, but my first impression is that the new Enduro pant is a keeper and something that is very versatile. I can't wait to get out there and wear them again!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Opening Day of the 2013 CA Archery Deer Season

Hunting on opening day of deer season is like Christmas morning. That's exactly how Brett and I felt last Saturday. It was the opening day of archery deer season in D11, our unit of choice this week, and we couldn't wait to get out there. To be honest, this was the first opening day I have been able to hunt in all my time in Southern California. I was incredibly excited! We had scoped this area out and knew there were bucks traveling the foothills, but we just needed to get set up in a good spot. We discussed, at length, exactly what spot each of us would go to that morning. We hemmed and hawed and finally came to the realization that we needed to both go to one spot and cover two ridges.

Here I am field testing the RZ Mask and trying to look bad ass.

We were set up long before sunrise to allow our bodies to cool down. The wind was perfect, but it was hot. How hot? It was over 80 as the sun came up and climbing. Just as the sun rose over the hills, I noticed a shape about a thousand yards away. Yes, it was that far. Pulled up my MINOX 10x44 binoculars and there was a lone spike horn silhouetting himself. He disappeared as quickly as he had appeared and that was the only deer we would see.

Brett with one of the three Mylar balloons we rescued from the forest.

As I made my way to Brett's location, I looked and looked, but couldn't find him. I gave a short whistle and he stands up not 40 yards away. His Predator camouflage shirt had him blending in perfectly! I had mentioned a few times that we should pick some up because I felt it worked well. I should have followed my own advice because he was very difficult to spot!

By 9:00 AM the temps were climbing near 100 degrees and we opted to bail on the spot. For one, we weren't seeing anything. Second, it wouldn't be fair to shoot a deer in that heat, being that far from our vehicle, and having to pack it out without running the risk of spoilage. We made the call and hiked out. Along the way we picked up three Mylar balloons and spotted two more in the hills. I hate them.

Our plan is to wait until it cools down slightly and hit the same spot in hopes of one of us getting close enough for a shot. Until then it will be finishing up elk meat in the freezer and target practice.

Anyone have any luck in SoCal yet?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Venturing into the World of Bowhunting Elk for the First Time

Quite a few of my online hunting buddies have been gearing up for their very first elk hunt this year. I have been following intently in hopes of reading about their high and lows, success and wisdom attained from the mountain. My buddy Jerud Earnest was one of the few who ventured across the U.S. to Colorado for the opening week of archery elk season. For those of you planning out your first hunt, read carefully and listen to what Jerud has to say.
Friday and Saturday August 30-31, 2013

Left Ryan’s house in Mt. Vernon, IN at 2:10pm. Drove through the night with Ryan taking a 2.5 hour shift before getting tired. Stopped in Gunnison, CO so Ryan could buy his tag. Ate a sandwich in Telluride (40th Annual World Famous Film Festival going on) before heading to our camp ground for one last shower. Arrived at the trail head around 2pm. We set up a “base camp tent”, shot our bows, and hiked the trail about one mile to a glassing point. Came back to truck, ate Mountain houses and went to bed.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Woke up at 6:00 AM and ate breakfast. Double checked packs and discovered that Ryan had a pack stuffed full with Whitetail Deer Stand hunting clothes.

Me: What happened to the list that I gave you?

Ryan: This is the list. I didn’t know what some of the items where and I don’t want to get cold.

Me: What do you have for warm weather?

I unload his pack give him a pair of pants, shirt and he finds one GSX hot gear shirt. Everything else is cold gear. He puts one set of UA cold gear in his pack. 8:30 AM we take off on the trail and meander our way up to where I thought we could camp. Several stops and a final 'I can’t climb any higher' from Ryan and we find a nice flat spot to set camp at about 10100’. It’s 12:00 PM. We set camp up, filter 2.5 gallons of water, eat a snack, watch a mule deer doe come within 30 yards and then decide to walk a small area. End up setting up over a meadow until we lose light. We saw two guys way up on a ridge about an hour before dark. Head back to camp for dinner and bed. Ryan discovered he needed his UA cold gear with his 32 degree synthetic bag. I had questioned its rating when he showed it to me a couple weeks prior. Our plan for the morning was to climb up on the ridge where we saw the two guys and glass.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Wake up around 5:30 AM and eat breakfast. I finally get Ryan rolled out around 7:00 AM. He doesn’t feel like eating. We start our trek to the ridge. Finally make the ridge (not to the top, but a good overlooking of both drainages 11300’) and start glassing and taking in a comparison of Google Earth versus what I’m actually seeing. I hear Ryan rattling a pill bottle and says he has a headache.(He had sort of quit dipping a couple weeks prior, but he picked up a few cans at one of our stops. Thinks it’s just a strong buzz because of altitude.) About an hour later he says he thinks we need to drop down. The decent is slow and he is complaining about his legs and knees. We get to 10600' and decide to work our way around to a meadow for the evening. Along the way he dry heaves a couple of times. From the meadow Ryan spots something in the trees. I freeze, but can’t see it. It meanders off to our right and up. Ryan takes the lead and we don’t catch up. We go back and cut tracks to discover it was a mule deer. Ryan dry heaves some more. Long discussion about if he needs to leave and drop down to a lower elevation for a day. Ryan is convinced he is okay and wants to see how tomorrow goes and decide then. Ryan wants to head back to spike camp though. We get to camp at 5:30 PM and he crawls in his bag and falls asleep. I mill around and gather some firewood. I don’t want to leave him as he’s not looking good. I wake Ryan up before dark and ask if he wants me to fix him a MH. He says, 'Yeah I should probably eat something.' Ryan gets out of his bag, wipes off, puts UA on and crawls back in the bag. I don’t wake him or go ahead and fix him a MH. At dark, I pick up camp, get everything under cover and discover that he had only eaten one snickers bar all day.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013 (My wife and I’s 8th Anniversary) 

Wake up before light and look over at Ryan in the fetal position completely buried in his bag. I decide to let him sleep and I start packing up camp after eating breakfast. I am concerned about his physical ability to get back to the TH because of what is now apparent altitude sickness and his lack of fuel. Ryan wakes up to me stuffing my bag and ask if we’re packing out. I answer 'Yes'  which upsets him very much and he starts apologizing repeatedly. I give him a hug and tell him not to worry about it, we just need to focus on getting to the truck and a lower elevation. It’s a slow pace out and we come across another camp of two and a horse. They are taking a couple days off as everything is slow. The elk are scattered and not bugling. They talked to the “Ridge Runners” camp and they’re not seeing much from all the ground they’re covering running along the ridges. I take this as good news, one day out won’t hurt us.

Once we hit the Trail, I go ahead and continue to the truck, no longer stopping for Ryan to catch up. I decided to tear down the “base camp” tent as it’s not really mountain worthy and useless to us. We hop in the truck at 10:00 AM. Driving away from the trail head it’s a sharp uphill left, then right. Just as we straighten up after the right-hander we hear a “POP” and I have almost no steering (traveling 10 mph)(2007 Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins with 125,000 seemed like a premature failure). I drift the truck to the inside of the road and we jump out to look. The passenger side tie rod joint has completely popped. Almost immediately a crew cab ford stops and offers to give me a ride to town. Ryan wants to stay at the truck. I will stop here and just say God always knows what’s best and makes better plans than we do! We were traveling slow and it was the only wide spot in that entire road. He had help lined up right after the breakdown.

Anyway, we drive to Rico and call a tow service. They laugh and tell me that’s 70 miles no way. Call a service out of Telluride (Shane). Shane says he’s booked, but will work me in if I can get to Telluride. The couple in the Ford is heading to Telluride to ride the Gondola. I jump back in with them. They let me out along the highway and we argue about me trying to pay them for the ride. I lost. I call my wife and explain what’s going on. She calls me back and a guy at work has a contact in the area that I could hunt with. She says put Ryan in a hotel and get up with this guy. I explain that Ryan is devastated and I can’t go out hunting without him. Besides, I still have to get my truck off the mountain and repaired.

Shane picks me up. Short version is we have a couple of adventures before we start after my truck. Shane’s truck is a 4x4 oversized bed roll back built for mountain recovery. (God’s plan). Shane also drives the roads like he’s in a Formula 1 car. Shane gives me the number to the only repair garage in Telluride (Telluride Tire) and I call them to give them a heads up of my situation and when we’ll be there.

We get to the truck and get it loaded on the rollback and to the garage without much issue. We pay Shane $450 and wish him well. Call Mountain Limo for a ride into town. We get a room for $120 (tax included) and take a shower. Walk up to Brown Dog Pizza and order the 2013 Gold Medal Detroit style pizza in Large 8 square. The waiter assures us we’ll be taking some home. He is not aware that with all the excitement today, I have only had oatmeal for breakfast. Ryan chokes down three pieces of pizza only because he knows he needs food. I consume five pieces and two dark beers and ask the waiter for our “take home” portion. I think he’s still trying to figure out how a 175lb guy destroyed the pizza. We go for a Gondola Ride over the mountain which gets Ryan sick again. Highest point was 10300'.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Shower and get dressed. Wait until the last possible minute to check out at 10:00 AM and walk up to eat breakfast at Baked in Telluride. Ryan looks a little better, but not much. We make some phone calls home and then talk about our options. I recount him struggling coming down from the ridge with only a day pack and question his ability to help pack out an animal. Ryan takes this as questioning his manhood. I said “I know you’re capable of killing yourself trying. I’m talking about do you think you are actually able?” He says, “No this is way more physical than I thought.” I have no interest in packing camp back up the mountain for 2.5 days and Ryan either getting sick, or I’m left packing an animal out by myself and possible Ryan, too. We also don’t have the truck yet. We walk around town a little bit to test Ryan out. He’s still far from 100%. About this time my phone chimes and Mark Huelsing from Sole Adventure busts me for not being out hunting. I give him the short version of the adventure.

12:30 PM - Telluride Tire calls and the truck is done. We call Mountain Limo for a ride to the shop. Much to my surprise, Telluride Tire did not take advantage of me and the repair was extremely reasonable. Also, the best aligned vehicle I have ever driven.

We decide to cut our losses and call this the most expensive learning lesson ever and head home. My truck easily goes 600 miles between fuelings so we roll straight through and back to Ryan’s house in 20 hours. He didn’t start feeling better until we hit Kansas at 4000’.

Story and photos © Jerud Earnest 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

When God Talks, Do You Listen?

When it comes to our children, we are constantly asking them to do as we instruct, but they don't always listen. The same goes for us as parents, too. We don't always listen to our intuition or, in my case, to what I feel God might be telling me to do. We can choose to ignore it once, but should it present itself again I feel we are getting a second chance at doing something right.

Getting healthy by eating right and exercising more has been at the top of my priority list as of late. I have been biking quite a bit over the past two weeks and on Saturday morning I chose to hit a bike path for a nice 20 mile ride. It was a beautiful morning and I felt great. As I neared the turnaround point, I noticed a gentleman along side the path who appeared homeless. He was minding his own business and was working on something for someone. Immediately, I felt like God was asking me to stop and talk to this man, say hello, and offer him my protein bar. Doubt kicked in and gave me reasons why I should not and that I needed that energy to make the 10 miles back. Shame on me for ignoring what I knew was right. I rode right on past him and made my way home, but I could not stop thinking about this man.

Last night, I opted to go for another 20 mile ride in the evening. This is where God gave me a kick in the pants and second chance. Along the way, I had to pass by a few soccer fields where kids were playing soccer. I began to feel like I was being tested and that God had a message for me. First, a girl was kicking a ball on the wrong side of the bike path and her mother said nothing to her. I had to slow down considerably and wait for her to move. Then, another kid, not paying attention, kicked his ball right in front of my tire, even after I said 'Excuse me.' I am getting visibly frustrated. Then, I see a woman running in front of me. I hollered loudly to her 'On your left!' and her music must have been super loud because she keeps running and just as I am about to pass her, she turns right into my path! I take the concrete hill and she jumps out of my way with only a foot to spare. Third crisis averted! Then, as I am climbing a hill, a guy with headphones on comes from a side road (I had the right of way) and cuts me right off. I shake my head, shift gears down and continue to climb.

God must have figured he hadn't gotten through to me yet because my shoe string wrapped around my pedal. It wound tight and I had to stop to get it unwound. Here is where I 'woke up'. I was along the edge of a steep rock embankment and as I slowed to get the lace untangled, my bike leaned the way of the rocks. In order to not fall into the jagged rocks, I had to snap my foot down, thus snapping my shoelace. I was able to catch myself before I toppled over and pondered what had just happened. I felt like I was supposed to slow down. God must have been satisfied that I was now alert because a mile down the path I found the homeless man from Saturday. I knew I would pass him on my way back and again, felt the need to stop and offer him my protein bar.

I stopped at the turnaround for a drink and to see if I had anything better than a protein bar. Wouldn't you know it, I had a Wilderness Athlete gel pack and a PROBAR in there. I ate my protein bar, drank some water and started back.

Once again, doubt filled my mind. What if he wasn't homeless? What if he didn't want to be bothered? What if he was armed? I couldn't shake it and as I got by his tent I saw him to be texting on a phone. I rode by thinking, 'Well, if he has a phone and can text then he doesn't need my sympathy'. Immediately, I felt ashamed for having judged this man for no reason. Who was I to judge and where the heck was my compassion? A quarter mile up the path I turned around and went back. I was in no place to judge and needed to listen to my soul.

Stopping in front of the tent, I apologized to the man for interrupting his evening and for the intrusion. I then asked him if he might need something to eat. He set down his phone down, which I noticed wasn't a phone at all, but a journal that he had been writing in, and said he would be grateful for anything I could offer.

Now, I pause to mention that my wife and I have been working with our daughter to be grateful for things provided to us, no matter if we like them or not. We have been explaining to her that there are people who have nothing who would give anything for a smile, a kind hello, or a meal. Here was a man with nothing and was grateful. God was teaching ME a lesson in humility, kindness, and also being grateful. For me, being grateful also means being willing to share what I have with others. What a lesson!

Over the course of just a few minutes I learned much from Tony. He explained that he had been out of work for months, and was picking up odd jobs to survive. He never asked me for a thing. I am choking up when writing this because he thanked me for the PROBAR and WA gel and said he would save it for his meal tomorrow. While I needed to get back to cook dinner for my family, I knew I needed to listen to this man, even if was only for a few minutes. We shared some laughs, stories, and he even mentioned he had a resume. Now get this, he didn't ask me to take one, he simply mentioned he carried them around just in case. I was humbled and asked him for a copy. After putting the resume in my pack, I shook his hand and told him I would be seeing him soon as I bike this path often.

Now, I don't want kudos or thanks for stopping. I should have listened in the first place. God works in mysterious ways and sometimes we just need to open our hearts a bit more and show some compassion. Take the time today to be kind to a stranger. Say hello and offer a smile. If you have some spare change or a candy bar and feel the need to share it, please do. There are far too many out there who have fallen on unfortunate times and they eat, sleep, and breath just like you and I. I can only hope to run into Tony and see if I can put his resume into the hands of someone who can really help him with a job.