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  • I Pulled off the forest service road and drove the`half-mile down the boulder field trail to our bivwack on Camp Creek. It was Wednesday, just after noon, sunny, clear and warm. I cut lodge poles from the standing dead in an aspen grove just off camp site. I set up and settled into my Sheridan canvas wall tent, with shepherd stove, duel mantle coleman lantern, saw horse and plank table, wooden steamer chest, canvas director’s chair and army cot with a down sleeping bag and wool blanket. Fly rod and reel ready with grasshopper and nymph, Winchester .30-30 carbine in saddle scabbard with 165 grain reloads, on the table.

    Mike Gostovich had been there for two days setting up the cook tent and cutting, hauling and stacking firewood from the dry fork area, enough for three tents, for four nights - about two maybe three bush cords. Northern Wyoming, 8,300 ft. elevation-on the upper northeastern slope of the Big Horn Mountains, with a clear view into the Little Big Horn drainage.

    Rod Loney pulled in at about five, we helped him unload. He went fishing.

    As night fell, we cleaned up the dishes from a dinner of pan fryed Brookies and fresh shaved hash browns. The camp coffee pots filled with clean creek water for morning brew with fresh ground, dark roast beans and chicory chips. Time to bring out the turkey, the Wild Turkey. Time to talk about memories of past camps and neighbors who we could visit on this trip to the high country. Who was at Baribeau camp on the tie flume this season? Alan went into the Army, stationed in Texas, his big brother Mike is keeping bees in Mexico, last I heard. Where was the big Pole - Washut? Living in Banner - went from crane operator to mortician to nurse practitioner. The Swede - Stromberg is still in Buffalo, retired and divorced but gets to see the grand kids.

    The moon and star fields were full and clear that night, singing softly, just a reminder that we were not alone.

    Time for bed, need to start out early tomorrow, get to the lookout on east ridge before sunrise.
  • Just before morning . . . . the darkest side of night . . . . a silent chill in the air

    Got up to put more wood into the stove. Socks on, floor going to be cold. You could feel the stillness of the night, no light, except the soft warm glow of the last burning embers. Then, the dry twigs and split wedges sparked a new dance of golden flame moving effortlessly across the canvas walls.

    No point going back to bed, just put coffee pot on stove, pull jeans off the chair, one leg at a time they go on over red flannel long johns. Classic Pendleton shirt next and then a pair of waxed leather, high laced mountain boots.

    Coffee was ready, speckled blue enamel cup filled, lifted, then cradled and the day began. Warm and awake now, my first look at the clock, it was almost six, sun would be coming up soon. Got to go, east ridge a good half-hour walk, need to be there by first light of dawn.

    Grabbed some camp mix for the long walk, pulled coat, cap and gloves from the steamer, day pack with binoculars and camera from the ridge post hook. Ready to wake up the rest of the camp, Mike across the creek in the cook tent, Rod just east sharing Mike’s front lodge poles. He got in too late to cut his own. Rick and George had to work yesterday, due in today by noon.
  • Pulled the tent flap straps and stepped out . . . . into six inches of new, heavy wet snow.

    Looked across the creek, Mike’s flap was open and Rod had cleared a path in front of his tent. I quickly shot this photo, grabbed my coffee cup and headed across the log bridge to the cook tent. If the snow didn’t stop soon, nothing was going to move, especially us.

    The conversation was light and easy, “It”ll stop snowing soon, then we can head out for east ridge’”. We drank the rest of Mike’s coffee and Rod’s too. It snowed, it kept snowing, it didn’t stop snowing . . . . Noon . . . . It was still socked in, snow pole measured a foot-and-a-half so far. The snow blanketed everything, no sunlight could get through the grounded cloud.. “I guess Rick and George aren’t going to get here by noon”. . . . “Smart Ass”!

    The weather man missed it again, said it was going to be clear and dry through the weekend. We had planned a five-day trip, one in, three hunting and fishing, and one out. The CB didn’t work on this remote slope - in order to radio anyone we would have to drive at least to Baribeau’s camp on the tie flume to get a clear shot off the mountain to the Eaton Ranch at Wolf. The sun broke through once that afternoon at about four o’clock, for ten minutes, but quickly disappeared, behind a wall of heavy, blowing snow.

    The wind let up friday morning before dawn, leaving drifts of six to eight foot, completely burying our pickups. . . . The snow was relentless though, it didn’t . . . . . We didn’t panic, but all we could do was sit, feed the fire, eat, drink, do the dishes, tell lies, use the white house and sleep. . . . Repeat . . . .

    When the sun finally came out on Sunday, over three foot of snow was still level on the snow pole in the clearing by the aspen grove. We uncovered the pickups and started breaking camp before nine. Got the pickup loads tied down, chains all-around, 4-wheel-drives locked. It was slow . . . . we crawled up the boulder field . . . . walk, stop, probe to find boulders, then RPM’s high, release the clutch . . . . slingshot forward - then slide to the side, no traction, chains couldn’t grab hold in the deep heavy snow. Made the half-mile up to forest service road in a little more than two hours.

    We were out of the boulder field, but the gravel road was buried too, not an edge, not even a shadow, we were basically snow-blind. At about twelve-thirty we heard the crackling sound of two-stroke engines . . . . snowmobiles approaching from the south-south-west. It was Rick and George - they were only three days late. They turned around and began to cut cat tracks in the invisible roadway, so we could get onto dry pavement, five miles away, before dark.

    Rick and George had gotten to Dayton on Thursday morning, but the road was already closed, so they headed back to Buffalo, loaded up their snowmobiles and waited for the snow to stop. The snowplows started up the mountain on Friday, got through the switchbacks. Saturday to Sibley Lake, Sunday, they finally got all the way to the junction of Alternate US 14, the turn-around. Rick and George were behind them all the way. They unloaded the snow cats, gased up and started the long trek up Freeze out Road to our Camp Creek site.

    Well, we got out, no great moral to the story, but just thought I would tell you, this story isn’t a winter tale at all, it actually happened from Wednesday, October 14, through Sunday, October 18, 1981.
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