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What an amazing, exhausting, and beautiful place. I didn't want to leave and now I can't wait to go back.

As you know we did not bring home an elk...but we were on fresh sign every day and had some close encounters.

His tag was for Unit 12 and we drove up to Kremmling where we stayed the night and then headed up to the zone the next morning. We decided to camp in the wall tent rather than take the trailer this first trip. There were some camps and folks at the main trailhead and by the lake...but not too many. And we quickly decided on this secluded spot down in the trees away from the trail head. Couldn't see or hear anyone. It was perfect.
Plant Sky Plant community Ecoregion Tree


Tent was actually pretty comfy. We had a propane heater for at night...but sadly it was pretty darn warm all week. Good for sleeping...not for elk hunting.

Tent Tarpaulin Shade Wood Yurt


We set out to hunt and we stayed off the actual trails. Just went out using the downloaded maps on his OnX and I ran GAIA to track our routes and mark spots/sign etc. It was fun to see at the end of each day how far we hiked and the elevations. We got on fresh sign pretty quick. And that first morning as we slowly and carefully climbed up to the top of a ridge we knew we were likely close to elk. You could even smell them. And then there he was...a nice bull slowly stood up in the timber not 20 yards from us! My husband was ready...arrow knocked...but the bull was a little above us and was facing when he stood. And a bit of brush between. He just didn't have an ethical shot with a bow. the bull stood trying to determine what he heard and then turned tail and trotted off. It's amazing how quiet they can be in the the timber with all of the deadfall etc. Amazing creatures.

Having to try to hunt them in the timber is tough. If you've not seen it...this is what it looks like with all of the deadfall etc:
Plant Natural landscape Wood Terrestrial plant Trunk


And there is NO drought in this area. It rained our first 2 days and there is SO much lush vegetation and water sources even in the timber. Came across several wallows up pretty high. And they were in use...very stinky animals.
Plant Plant community Natural environment Natural landscape Water


Did I mention all the fresh sign?...
Plant Plant community Ecoregion Natural landscape Wood


Plant Flower Yellow Petal Grass


It was absolutely beautiful there. We had a shot at mule deer every single day. They were down low and moving and we would see them and get close to them pretty easily. Wish it had been the same with the elk! lol We did take scenery shots...and as Chase said...pics can't do it justice:

Sky Cloud Plant Mountain Plant community


Cloud Plant Sky Plant community Military camouflage


In this one below you can see one of 2 active wallows there to the right center of the pic at the head of a spring.

Sky Plant Mountain Plant community People in nature


And I guess you all know about the sheep and cattle that are grazed up there. Where we were it was mostly sheep. We could see them over on the opposite ridge. The little sheep herder camper/wagons are parked in spots along the road. Judging from some of the tree carvings...sheepherding must be a lonely existence.

Plant Branch Tree Trunk Wood


Continued in next post...hit the 10 image limit...
 

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I believe with my poor spanish skills that this says something like "I'm a Cholo" (slang for poor mexican) "Don't feel sorry for me"...or something to that effect.

Plant Water Leaf Tree Trunk


We saw all kinds of wildlife. We even saw a moose! But I wasn't quick enough to get a photo.

Each day we got on fresh sign and it was clear that with the heat and the lush green food and water everywhere that the elk were staying high in the dark timber during daylight hours. And they were not talking. I tried cow calls as we snuck around in the timber and while sitting over a wallow. Nothing. Not a peep. No response to bugle even in the late evening. And in the end we realized that with the heat and the distances we were hiking up into the timber...if we DID get one down we would have a heck of a time saving the meat. So we didn't get frustrated and although we kept trying...we also turned our minds to exploring the area and marking the wallows, good sign and some landmarks on the GAIA app that will be really useful when we go back. We won't go quite this early again either.

I have points built up and hope to draw a ML tag next year. We are definitely going back as soon as we can. We may try for a mule deer tag also since we saw so many. (which means we won't see them when we have a tag probably)
We will also take the LQ trailer next time as it was a real challenge fitting everything into the back of the truck coming home. And...it's nice to arrive with your bed already made...particularly when it is raining.
Plant Automotive tail & brake light Vehicle Wheel Car


We hiked A LOT. And thankfully we had zero issues with equipment or soreness. Our boots did fantastic even in the wet, and I took BCAA's each day as I do when riding competition miles and no sore muscles. I did take the Diamox the first couple of days. I had no issues there either.

All in all it was an AMAZING trip. I can't wait to go back. We are already making plans. For those that have had it on their mind...JUST GO...make it happen.
 

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That's a great trip. Have you considered taking horses? Those mountains are not nearly as high or steep if you're riding.
 

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Great post and great pictures! Looks like Beautiful country! It was a lot dryer on the western side of the state. Fortunately they had just enough rain before we arrived to have a small camp fire each night!
We learned pretty quick the second day Navigating the blow downs is a tedious and exhausting task. Your miles walked quickly climbed when you have to walk left or right several feet just to move a couple feet forward!
 

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We are really considering the horses. We have arabs now...my draft cross is retired. And while the arabs can't pack as much meat...they can carry us out...and enough back to make it worthwhile. We plan to expose them to elk scent on the buffalo, and pack some deer on them to see how they handle it. They are smart, solid trail horses already. We do also have a mule that belongs to my father in law that supposedly packed before he got him. We will investigate that. We would also then want my father in law to go so that someone can watch the horses in camp on the times we don't use them. I'm not comfortable leaving them alone all day. And he has said he'd love to go with us and do that.
 

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Great post and great pictures! Looks like Beautiful country! It was a lot dryer on the western side of the state. Fortunately they had just enough rain before we arrived to have a small camp fire each night!
We learned pretty quick the second day Navigating the blow downs is a tedious and exhausting task. Your miles walked quickly climbed when you have to walk left or right several feet just to move a couple feet forward!
Even with it this lush...they still had the fire restrictions in place. We didn't get to have a campfire. Ah well. Next year. :)
 

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great story! ahhh the memories it brings.

if you are serious about packing meat next year start now to condition your animals. the ones that care take a lot of work and the ones that dont care just dont care what you put on them. throw a deer hide over them to find out what happens.
 

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Beautiful country. I love it out west. Sounds like y'all learned a lot for future trips. It always amazes me, the terrain in the US. You can go from coastal beaches, to plains, to desert and up in some high mountains too. We are very blessed to live in a country this great. When I'm out in the Rockies or the Sierra Nevada's, I always think about what it must have been like for the first people from Europe to see all that country during the westward expansion. Some tuff, crazy effers, boy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
great story! ahhh the memories it brings.

if you are serious about packing meat next year start now to condition your animals. the ones that care take a lot of work and the ones that dont care just dont care what you put on them. throw a deer hide over them to find out what happens.
We absolutely plan to condition the horses and ourselves. My horse is in good trail condition as he and I compete 30 miles 2 days in a row now for the sport...but the others are not. And we haven't yet exposed them much to packing anything....we will try them with deer this season and a friend has an Arkansas elk tag and I'm hoping to get some blood/hide etc from him to expose them to also. Elk smell a lot different than deer.
 

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We've been boning out the elk on the spot since you have to do it before you bring them back to AR any way. If your horse can tote a 200lb man in the saddle, he/she can surely tote an elk. Even if you made 2 trips, it'd be a hell of a lot better than packing them on your back. I've been fortunate that the horses we use dont care want they're packing.
 

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We actually have panniers that are the box style with a pack saddle...as well as the type in your photo that go over the western saddles. They are from 20 years ago when his dad used them...but still in nice shape. We will use that bag style for the horses we have since we do have western saddles we can use. (I ride mostly in an endurance saddle without the horn but still have my western saddle)
 

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The cooking was done before we left. I used tomatoes from the garden to make pasta sauce and made vacuum sealed packs of spaghetti with venison meat sauce with mushrooms and sun dried tomato, some sealed packs of pulled pork I did on the smoker, and tomato confit that we just had to heat in a pot of water to have hot food ready quick along with the various accompaniments for each that we brought. Easy peasy.
We did also have some of the freeze dried meals and I've made a list of the ones we really liked and will get again. The Peak version of Chicken Alfredo Pasta was really good!
And no dishes to wash!
Though I did also make sammiches to take in our packs on occasion naturally.
 

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Oh and one of the bonuses to spending that night in Kremmling on the way out is that we could do a bit of final shopping at the really nice and well stocked general store there. And...had a big breakfast at the Moose Cafe!
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Which direction did you hunt from Kremmling? I was there in July and done a white water raft trip on the Colorado River just south of town. On the way to the river I saw the biggest herd of elk I've ever seen. Had to be 150-200 hd.
 
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