Feb 11, 2020
Part 1: Lost in the Mountains
We were hunting in a large group. We were already in the remote wilderness but walked into an area that was even more remote. There we broke up into smaller groups in order to cover more ground. We walked for about another hour in the darkness and came into a small clearing that I was sure that no other human being ever set foot in.
For some reason, this profound calmness set in. In reality, we were not lost. We could have walked straight down hill for a couple of miles and hit a road that would have taken us back to camp. On the other hand, if anyone set out to try to find us, the never would have been able to spot us. The cover was just too thick. You wouldn't have been able to find us from the air or the valley floor.
We stood there silently, taking it all in. Eerily silent... not a bird chirping... not a squirrel around to bust us... not even a breeze. The lodge pole pines stood easily 60 feet over head all around us. I dropped my pack for a second in order to get a drink of water. My partner walked up and whispered, "I don't know where we are, but we're here."
The statement itself is rather silly. It doesn't mean anything other than the fact that we could not have been found by any search party in the world if we wanted to keep it that way. We both sat down to take it all in. I said, "Do you have any idea how calm I am right now?'' "Calm" was the closest word I could come up with to describe our situation. My buddy nodded and said, "Its like, no matter what happens, everything is going to be okay." Zen.... For the first time in my life, I experienced Zen.....
My buddy broke out some jerky. I broke out a couple of Cliff bars. We sat there quietly, gnawing down on some grub and just let life happen. 20 minutes or so went by without either one of us saying anything. Nobody needed to say anything. Saying anything at this point would have ruined it and I think both of us needed that time by ourselves.
I peeled off my coat, rolled it up and stuffed it in my pack. I leaned back against this old pine tree and looked around. I caught my buddy doing the same thing. After this 20 minutes of absolute silence, my friend said, "I don't care if I see a deer or an elk all day. I am good with everything, right now." I laughed out loud because I felt the exact same thing. We let another 20 minutes or so go by, both of us stretched out using our packs as pillows to rest our heads on.
Down below us there was a loud crack. We both sat up and grabbed our rifles. Again, another loud crack. Something was walking uphill towards us. At the far end of this small clearing, out stepped a cow moose.... she had no idea that we were there. She walked about 5 steps directly at us and must have winded us because she broke off at a 45 degree angle and went back into the woods never to be seen again.
We looked at each other and just nodded. I laid back down for a couple of minutes. Everything was just right in the world. You could smell the subtle smell of the earth beneath us. The subtle smell of the cow moose was still lingering in the air. The smell of the pines and the fresh mountain air had never been more clear.
We both began to stir at the same time. I grabbed my pack and slung it up over my shoulder. I bent down and grabbed my rifle. I said, "We probably ought to make our way off this hill." He gathered his stuff and said, "That was the most peaceful half hour or 45 minutes that I have ever experienced in my life, but it is time to get on with the day."
As we walked off the hill, we kind of gave up on the idea that we were actually hunting. We talked and walked for a couple of hours until we came out in a clearing 2 draws east of where we thought we would come out in. We shrugged it off and continued to walk towards the spot where we were all supposed to meet up.
We finally found our group, loaded up in the back of a pick up truck and enjoyed a bumpy ride back up the mountain towards camp. When we got back to camp, I felt full. I felt as if everything that was supposed to happen that day already had happened. Everything was exactly as it was supposed to be at that moment in time.
Part 2: The moose
I was at work this morning. Everything was going along like it was supposed to be going. I had a few things that I had to go check on, and as I made my way to the north end of the ranch, I happened upon this lone cow moose sitting underneath a big willow, in the sun. I took a minute to watch her. Everything was good in her world. Although it was -14 below 0, she had a full belly, chewing on some willow, lying in the sun... I'd reckon for a moose, it doesn't get much better,
That made me remember that day hunting. That made me remember all of the struggles that I have gone through and made me more aware of how precious time is. I hopped out of the truck and just stopped to smell the roses.
I hope everyone has the ability to just stop for a second and realize how fortunate we all really are. Life can be tough at times. but life is also really beautiful.
If anyone reads this, I want to wish you the best of the day and remind you to take some time for yourself. You're worth it. Stop and smell those roses.