Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Did you hear? Elk season is rapidly approaching!
Elk season is a mere seven months away and the anticipation can make even the manliest of men giddy. In preparation for the Rockies, the weather, and the hiking, Brett and I ventured out this last Saturday on a pretty incredible hike. In case you hadn't heard, California finally got some rain and it was coming down in buckets from time to time. We decided that we would hit the Pacific Crest Trail in the rain to prepare ourselves for elk hunting. Colorado can bring on any type of weather at a moments notice and this might be our only time prior to hunting to hike in the rain. Plus, we had some gear we wanted to test out and we just needed some fresh air.
Parking at the trailhead roughly an hour after sunrise, we scanned the area to see if it was worth actually hiking because if there was any sign of flooding or mudslides we would be turning around and heading back. The weather was cool and damp, but perfect to do some hiking and GPS training. We had carefully packed first aid, food, water, and our Badlands packs only boasted 20# of gear as we wanted to keep our knees from being punished more than they had to.
I had three things I wanted to field test on this trip. My Badlands biothermic apparel, a Garmin Colorado 400t GPS unit, and the Pat's Backcountry Beverages system. The latter was reviewed on Monday and performed exceptionally *hiccup* well. Brett wanted to get a feel for a GPS unit and wanted to fully test out his rain gear. My goals in testing were to see how well the apparel layered and kept me warm, but more importantly how well it kept me dry. The GPS testing is kind of a no-brainer as we plan on hiking into the backcountry this year after elk and we will need to know our GPS units extremely well.
This was our first time on this particular stretch of the PCT. We had to cross a small stream that had turned into a larger one due to the extra rain we had been getting. Crossing was fairly easy, but staying on the trail was tough at first. Someone had pulled out the PCT signs making the trail marking hard to find. We eventually found the trail and began to tackle the journey.
Hiking this new country was exactly what we needed. We discovered some hidden canyons, caves, and it was downright fantastic. Along the way, we checked our GPS units and kept up on our progress. We also used the hike as a scouting mission to see if this country would be good for deer hunting. It turns out that the country looks very promising for deer, but we saw zero animals. We were mainly focused on hiking instead of glassing, so there may have been a few roaming around. We will venture back to this spot and spend more time glassing on a future hike.
The rain came down steadily from time to time, but never a constant, heavy downpour. We could see when the rain was blown our way, so we had ample time to put on our rain gear. The temps fluctuated and got as high as 59 degrees, but with the wind and rain it felt much colder. That didn't matter much though. We were on a mission and it was great fun!
Brett's rain gear held up well and my Badlands protected me. Not only was it warm, it was comfortable, allowing ample movement, and it kept me dry. I watched the rain bead up on the surface of the Enduro jacket and just fall off. That made me one happy hunter! The jacket and pants stayed dry and comfortable. The GPS units performed well and we learned a great deal from our experience. The rain never fully stopped. It just took short breaks to allow the blue sky to peek through the clouds and then dump more water on us. The rain was such a blessing.
We hiked six miles in and decided to turn around. About two miles into our return trip, we both realized our quadriceps were beginning to hurt. All the up and down was taking a toll. Even though it hurt, the foothills were beautiful and the air was clean. It felt awesome to be out hiking it with a good friend who has the same passion for hunting as I do.
Overall, we hiked twelve miles and had an incredibly fun-filled day. We found some promising area to hunt and cannot wait to spend some time out there with a spotting scope. The deer have to be in there and the area won't be easy to hunt, but it will be a new challenge. We are first amping up to get after elk in September and this is just the beginning.