I received notice yesterday that the Cochise County Historical Society will release their Spring Journal in a week or two featuring my Sunnyside article. They sent me the page proofs for a "sneak peek" before release. I wrote the article a long time ago but never got around to having it published. Local histories are not looked at by the academy as having a wide enough audience to be of "great importance." Since most of my interest is in studying, engaging, understanding and describing specific places, my audience is usually limited to people familiar with the particular place. Much like Lawyer Canyon in Idaho, Sunnyside Canyon in the Huachuca Mountains of southeastern Arizona is rich in unique American history. Cochise County Arizona is home to the late 1800's boom towns
of Tombstone and Bisbee. Sunnyside was a mining town very different from its more famous neighbors.
Anyone interested in reading the original paper I delivered to the Arizona Historical Society, it is available on my e-portfolio: "Research Projects" page at https://sites.google.com/a/mesacc.edu/bruce-a-peterson/matrix.
Fred Rusch, the vice president of the historical society did a very nice job of editing my paper for publication to a public history audience. For that version you can visit their website or their Facebook page when it comes out.
In April I went into the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness Area for a week to cook for one of the Flying B Ranch's "spot and stalk" bear hunting camps. I thought I would share a few portions of my journal entries during the hunt and some of the photos.
Jeremi and Joseph checking loads.
Weasel Camp - Bear Hunt, Selway Wilderness
April 2, 2013
I have not been back in the Selway Bitterroots for many years. I rode into the Flying B’s Weasel Camp, 14 miles up the Selway River into the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness Area, yesterday. I’m the camp cook for two guides and four bear hunters. The camp is just up the South side of the river after you cross the Mink Creek wilderness pack bridge. Weasel Point is a mile and a half south of camp at 4546 ft. Weasle camp is at 2159, above Weasel Creek. After 15 miles on horseback, I was beat when we got here yesterday. I unpacked 4 mantes, sat down on a cot and fell sound asleep for a blessed hour nap. When I awoke, I set up the inside of my cook tent. Today’s chore is to organize the camp.
My most odious and exhausting chore is getting the water jugs filled. Weasel creek is a couple hundred feet below my tent. The trail down is steep, and the climb back up with full water containers is difficult. The chore pushed me physically to my limit. I knew it would tax me because when Joe returned with the jugs full yesterday, he was breathing faster than normal. Not a good sign for me. Tomorrow I will ask one of the guides to help me.
My Cook Tent
The guides and hunters will be here about 1:00 to 3:00 today. I need to make Oreo No-Bake for dessert tonight. Nothing else needs to be made early. I need milk, so will have to wait for them to arrive to prepare it. Hope there is time to cool it. It's not too cold this morning so no fire needed, but cloudy today, high clouds, white. I wonder if my solar charger will charge my I-Pad today? I'M listening to John Lennon right now. Besides music the major sounds in camp are; Weasel Creek, the sound of water rushing through river cobbles in its hurry to reach the Selway is the dominant and unceasing, bubbly rumble; next is the hiss of gas for the stove and lights, but both are off now, so the creek dominates. There is no wind now; the thumping of grouse is the next most evident sound, now that the camp has only me and no horses or mules. Grouse thump sounds just like a Briggs and Straton engine almost starting, but failing just when you expect it to take off, like you didn't give it enough choke and it catches but then starves for gas. If you didn't know better, you could think, "Who is starting a pump or generator this far back in a no-engines wilderness area?" At least that was my first thought before I remembered, "Oh yeah, Grouse." I have been in the city too long and way too much. Bob Dylan is crooning from the iPad and the grouse is thumping away! This place is truly magic.
I love dark places in the forest.
Wednesday Early Afternoon
The pack string should arrive in an hour or so. My camp is clean; I am clean, and everything else to do will have to await supplies. The grouse up the hill is still thumping quite regularly. He usually stops mid-afternoon. The iPad is down to 22%, we will now see how well the solar charger works. I just shut my Terry Brooks novel off.
Mink Creek: Weasel Camp is on the ridge
Lee's dissertation on the prehistory of the Clearwater Basin will provide the wider context for my book. He and Brian's works are so well done, digging out the primary sources other than the Nez Perce culture primaries is superfluous. I have a first draft of the geomorphic part of my book and much of the early history (1800 - 1890), the time of European contact. After the prehistory, which I am writing now, I will dive into white settlement, farming and environmental restoration, all of which I have completed most of the research and document collection. I don’t think I will complete the editing of the manuscript by the end of May, but will have a solid draft for editors to review. This sabbatical is a dream come true for me. I have been at this subject since 1993.
The sun has come out, time for one more camp inspection before hunters arrive. Funny how some things endure. I have no doubt camp was inspected awaiting hunters in the place called Kittle Rockshelter in the time before Mt. Mazama erupted creating Crater Lake in 6700 BP. I haven’t heard grouse thump for a while, maybe the sun quieted him.
Same Day, Wed.
The hunters and guides arrived early, before 1:00, very impressive time riding in. They brought in my coolers, two full of the rest of the food.
The Hunters: Luke–Looks strong, Kevin–Most refined looking, Dave–Lithe and thin, probably able to out-hike everyone, JB–He looks to be the leader, tall, 6’ 7” maybe.
Jeremy and Arby are the guides. No one could ask for better guides, or even better friends. They never cease to try get-my-goat or trick me into saying something stupid. They also do the hard work in camp for me, and Jeremy watches my health carefully. I have never been in a camp with better guides and I have known very few better men. Men like these are few, and every employee of the Flying B Ranch is the kind of person you can trust.
Tonight is pork ribs, baked beans, cole slaw and Oreo No Bake. I also have a bean soup for an appetizer, probably be some noise in the tents tonight.
I started charging the iPad at 22%. Last I looked it was up to 36%, but the sun is just going down behind the ridge. I better go get the thing. It has had a good four hours of sun on the solar panel charger. What do you think, 50% now? Not a bad guess, 53%!
Thursday Morning, Day 4
Luke shot a nice chocolate-colored and big bear last evening. Jeremy, Luke and JB didn’t get back to camp until 10:00. Spot and stalk bear hunting is not easy, and a bear the first day out is impressive.
Bear Tenderloin for Appetizer.
Thursday 1:05 PM
My halibut is thawing, and the cheesecake is in the cooler setting. I’ve figured out a way to steam my asparagus using a sauce pan lid to hold the spears above the water in the dutch oven. Everything is still clean and the iPad is charging from 25%. There are clouds today though. I would be surprised if it made 50% today. The hunters seemed to appreciate the eclectic playlist from the iPad last night. None of the four have made it to 40 yet, and one, Dave, is only 28. They are all good woodsman and in good shape, so I expect another bear today.
I’ve decided to go for a walk. I did this once many years ago and got lost trying to find my way back to the Mink Peak camp, a 22 mile ride into this wilderness. Martin Creek is over the ridge to the east from here, which is the drainage I wandered into from Mink camp that day. It was an Idaho Sucker Hole day, much like today, some clouds but the sun peaked out; my camp was in order like today, so I decided to walk.
I was wearing a brown leather bomber jacket. Wet leather sucks as an insulator and it’s heavy. I knew I better climb back up to the trail. I don’t know its real name; I call it elk brush. There are elk wallows in it in the fall. Its narrow trunks curve downhill before the rest of it reaches toward the sky. It lets you through going down; it fights back when you are trying to go uphill. Soon I was shivering, exhausted and trying to shimmy up fallen logs to avoid the brush. The light was dimming, and I was falling into hypothermia.
Off the Trail in the Selway Bittreroots
This is why they call these peeks of the sun, Idaho Sucker Holes. I finally made the ridge and trail just as it turned completely black. Disoriented and shivering uncontrollably, I couldn’t decide which way to go. One way should be no more than a couple miles to camp. The other, 20 miles to Indian Hill. I made a stone carin in the trail, chose a direction, and with my feet to feel the dip of the trail, I headed off into the inky mist.
I don’t know how long it took before I started second guessing my choice. Finally , I stopped. Built another carin in the trail and back tracked. Relieved when I stumbled over my first carin, I continue on until I started second guessing this choice. I sat down, I tried to think. Then, after trying to think for a while, I heard hoofs on rocks. The sound was coming from the direction I had been going. I can’t remember that Packer’s name anymore. It’s been a long time, 1989 I think. I do remember he wanted to quit smoking and he stuffed his pants with newspaper for insulation from the cold.
Wilderness Bridge at Mink Creek
He asked, “What the hell are you doing?”
“Walking,” I said.
“You want to ride Ernie; I can walk a while.”
“No,” I replied, “I can walk.”
After the first mile and I couldn’t stop shivering, I said “Can I ride Ernie?” I opened my soaking leather jacket and leaned forward over the saddle horn and tried to suck in some of Ernie’s heat coming off his neck. It was 4 miles back into camp. I also would probably have missed the trail cut off to the camp in the dark.
Everyone in the camp was looking for me. Losing the cook when he should be preparing supper is serious. They gave me brandy. Soon I was cooking supper. First choices are usually better than second choices. This was also my first realization that the Selway Bitteroots can kill idiots very easily. The packer didn’t last through the next hunt. He took his jeans lined with newsprint back to Illinois I think. When ever I came back to Idaho after that, I always gave Ernie carrots.
I’m going for my walk now. The clouds are thicker, but I am older and just a little wiser. Oh, I also have GPS in my pocket.
Friday morning, Day 5
Rained all night and most of morn, but the sun has arrived, hopefully not a sucker hole. Last night, about 4:00 AM, I had an insulin reaction. Jeremy, Arby and Dave did a better than professional job of handling the situation. Dave persisted in getting me to drink the apple juice. The first thing I was conscious of was Jeremi’s voice and name, then Arby’s name. I couldn’t focus on anything visual. Everything visual was distorted into an incomprehensible muddle, but my mind could grasp the meaning of "Jeremi" and then “Arby”; I knew was okay then. I was safe. At some point, Dave asked me the most intelligent question one could ask me to test my state of mind. He asked, “What book are you reading?” I knew. “Quantum Enigma,” I said. I was back in the place of consciousness. Arby and Jeremy took care of breakfast and making the days lunches for the hunt. I slept. The men in this Bear Camp are some of the best I have met.
A Wet Forest
I took a nap, felt good. Joseph rode in a few minutes after I got up; good timing. He said he napped for an hour at the trail head waiting for the rain to let up. Naps are good, a gift from the Great Dreamer, who dreamed all this shit up.
|Joseph Communing With the Great Dreamer|
Saturday 11:30 Day 6
Tyler Seems to Live Out Here
I’ve had an exceptional morning. Jeremy didn’t wake me and quietly made breakfast. He is a better back country cook than me. Maybe that’s why he didn’t wake me? Just as breakfast came to a close, Tyler the drop antler hunter came into camp to visit and have a cup of coffee. He stayed and entertained everyone long enough that I made a fresh pot of camp coffee. Tyler wanders these North-central Idaho forests, sometimes out here for month-long stretches, collecting drop antlers. The conversation between he and the guides taught me much about the trails and geography of the forests and the preferred habitats in the area of Deer, Elk, Lions and Bears. Jeremy and Arby argue some about who is the toughest mountain man, but Tyler seems to be the standard they measure themselves against. Although, Jeremy does think he might be a match for Tyler, but then, Jeremy also described Jeremiah Johnson, the most famous Mountain Man, as “short and stalky. Johnson was only 6’2”." Arby and Dave were in the tent for Jeremy’s description and reacted with startled big eyes. They are the smallest in camp. When we told JB Jeremy’s perception of short and stocky, JB didn’t even flinch, but JB is 6’7”. It seems “short” is a relative term.
JB shot a nice black bear yesterday. He, Luke and Jeremy were back in camp with the hide and meat mid-afternoon. When Kevin got in and saw the hide, he thought it looked a lot like the mythical "Wooley Bear" of his dreams. That puts Jeremy one bear for each of his hunters so far. Today he’s hoping for a wolf or two.
Luke is a dedicated predator hunter. He’s from Minnesota and has taken many bears. Minnesota bears are almost as numerous as Selway bears. He and the rest of the party are using what the media likes to call “Assalt Rifles.” Luke showed me his 308.
This was my first look at what our military minds have created. I am now convinced that this rifle is so far superior to my Remington 700s, these rifles designed for war are the best hunting rifle anyone could use.
Most hunters are very concerned that their animal kills be as clean and quick as possible. No true hunter wants the animal he or she takes the life from to suffer or hurt any longer than necessary. The rifle Luke showed me is the answer. It is light. It has minimum recoil. His .308 has the light recoil of a .223. The sights are high tech with adjustable light brightness and size of the cross hair and a 2 power flip over scope. The gun is so much more efficient than the standard bolt action hunting rifle, there is no real comparison. If you care about the animals, you hunt, what people call the “assault rifle” is really the most humane hunting rifle I have ever seen.
Instead of banning “assault” rifles, we should encourage hunters to buy them. That would be the most humane action to take with what the military has designed for war. Both Luke and JB’s bears went down with one kill shot at over 200 yards. I am old-school. I have always approached my gun choice practically. Rem. 700s, black composite stock and three-power luepold scope. But after seeing Luke’s rifle, a truly practical hunter would have Luke’s rifle in every caliber he or she needs for the size game they are hunting. Instead of “assault” the name should be “ultimate hunting” rifle. I am humbled by my ignorance of what these rifles really are. They are simply designed to be more accurate and efficient than my tried and true Rem 700. I probably will never buy one though. With the current through-the-roof price increases due to public demand, resulting from the threat of another "assault weapons" ban, I’m just too cheap, and I already have my bolt actions.
Arby in Story Mode
Dave asked me to tell the Vampire-Goth chick stoled my dog and guitar story I had told him the other day. I did, but then Arby topped all the night’s stories with his, true, dog story. I asked him for permission to post the story on the blog, telling him I would surely cite him. He replied that the last time someone cited him he had to pay a fine.
Arby knew a young woman who worked as a nanny in New York City for a family that went to Europe. As a member of a professional nanny group, the nannies got together to do nanny things, so she had a solid support group. Well, the families dog died while the family was away on a trip, and she didn’t know what to do. She called her nanny friend for direction and advice. The friend asked her if she had called the family to tell them what had happened. She hadn’t yet, so her friend encouraged her to do so right away.
The family understood and reassured her suggesting she take the dog’s body to the veterinarian's clinic. After the call, it dawned on her she only had public transportation available to her to get the 90 pound dog to the clinic. She had no car. She found a suit-case she thought the dog would fit into, and she proceeded to the subway. As she left the train to walk the short distance to the clinic, a man saw she was having a little trouble carrying the heavy suitcase and asked, “What do you have in there that is so heavy?”
Shaken, she replied, “Some of my stuff from work. My computer and things.” The man gallantly offered to carry the suitcase for her. He grabbed it and took off running! Her problem solved, she returned to the subway and went home.
I wish I could have seen the thief’s face when he opened his treasure. Arby insists the story is true, but so is my "Vampire-Goth Chick Stole My Daughter's Dog and Guitar" story.
4/8/13 Sunday, Day 7
The hunters are looking forward to having Joe in camp tonight. The guides, Arby and Jeremy, have them convinced he is almost a god of the hunt and back country. I might have encouraged the impression a little too. I’m looking forward to tonight’s banter. It should be entertaining and even illuminating.
Well, I have Lamb to read. Biff and Joshua (Jesus) are now 13 years old and heading to Antioch to find one of the wise men who followed a star. They’re hoping he can help Josh learn about his destiny and maybe even help in teaching him something about how to be a Messiah. You really should read this book, especially if you, like God, love comedy. We pack out tomorrow.