This was my third day out of a planned 10 day hunting trip. I had been dropped off at the top of our planned route to head down on the near side, my son taking the far side. Since my knee was replaced he has tended to give me the easier routes. We figured it would take a couple of hours to head down the mountain, taking our time watching for game.
I had bought walkie-talkies for us to use, but we wanted to keep as quite as possible using them only when absolutely needed. This is a known route, he had walked it for years and had proved to be a good site to see animals and often have opportunities for harvest. This was my first year taking the trip down, although my nephew had in previous years.
This area was called the mud flats; however it was near the top of the hills. It was muddy when it rained but now it was dry and warm being early fall. This made walking noisy and I took my time. The path, more like a game trail, was covered in ankle hurting rocks and sticky bushes that cling onto you like scared children. I was walking slowly and stopping often to look around and listen. I was staying near the ridge line so I could see more of both sides of the ravine. WE typically did not have breakfast before the morning hunt, preferring to eat a brunch in the late morning. Lots of coffee, but breakfast was waiting in the cooler back at camp.
Preparation had been learned over the years, I carried a pack with some supplies, a bottle of water, matches, emergency blanket, flashlight, knife and extra bullets. I had a roll of life savers in my pocket and my cell phone, the walkie-talkie at my hip. I once took a longer than expected walk during elk season in the cold and had learned better preparation from that experience.
It is a really nice area; near the top you can see Mt Rainer and several other mountains. Where I now stopped for a breather and to listen I could see down the ravine and across to several other mountain tops. As usual the fog had rolled in and out over the morning and was on the way back in. It was fascinating to watch as it crept up the raving, similar to ocean foam coming up on the beach, hiding the sand laying beneath. Trying to walk in the fog often left people lost and unsure of where they had gotten too. It also was of no use to try and hunt it the fog, you cannot see too far. I sat down on a nearby rock to wait it go back down and out. It did not.
In about ten minutes the fog climbed up the ravine to me and I was engulfed. The fog was very thick and I could only see about 4 feet; I started to be very cold. It seemed to sink into my bones right through my coat. I now doubted my plan of waiting it out was a good one.
More to follow - Love grandpa