Just over a year ago, I finished a big adventure that took a year of planning and nearly three months to complete. Since finishing, I've moved to Alaska, settled into a few new jobs, and begun exploring this vast state. What was missing though, was something to look foreword to, plan, and dream about. I needed the next great adventure.
Ask any outdoorsey type, and they've probably got some Alaskan trip on their bucket list: climb Denali, fish a remote river for king salmon, view coastal brown bears snapping salmon above Brooks Falls, whiteness the largest mammal migration in North America; there is no shortage of once in a lifetime things to be experienced in Alaska. When I moved here, I had the impression that these types of experienced would be a little more within reach. The reality though, is the amount of time and money they require still make them challenging. Distances are huge up here, roads are few and bush travel expensive. Living in Alaska doesn't necessarily make these kinds of trips something one can check off the list on a long weekend. The good news is: there's no shortage of trips to plan, dream and take part in. Time to pick one out and start sceeming.
It may come as little surprise that the first one I picked out is no less ambitions than winter steelheading by bike. I guess I have a penchant for adventures with little chance of 'success' despite the huge physical effort required. This August I'm packing my rifle, backpacking gear and tackling one of the toughest hunts in AK: Dall Sheep.
Dall Sheep live in some of the hardest to reach places in Alaska: remote mountain tops guarded by swamps, alder thickets (worse than they sound) and glacial rivers. Many hunters rely on bush planes to gain access to this country. Not having $3000 to spare on a couple Super Cub flights, I've decided to do it the old fashioned way, hike in from the road. With very few trials, bushwhacking is the the name of the game, a term that makes so much more sense up here. Down in Wyoming, one can easily stroll cross-country. Trees are widely spread and swamps are few. Up her, alder can seem nearly impenetrable and can stretch on for miles. Just reaching sheep country requires tremendous effort. Once one reaches tree line, sheep are relatively easy to spot. The challenge is to find a legal one. Most areas only allow full curl rams to be harvested. One must scrutinize a ram's horns through a spotting scope to determining legality, a task more easily said then done.
In a few months, I'll be loading up for a 10 day hike into sheep country. Chances of bring home an animal are low. Probability of and adventure I'll never forget are nearly certain. Stay tuned...