Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dall Sheep - Phase II

I have to say that I love Alaska. Everything is so BIG, the mountains, the valleys, the rivers. I couldn't think of a better setting to kill my first sheep.

The next three days turned out to be quite uneventful. We saw 15 rams, but none were legal. A legal ram has to either have a full curl or be eight years old. After glassing, listening to Johnny’s guide stories, eating and sleeping for three days we were picked up and moved to another location. It was another amazing flight. The plane flew low over mountain passes and close to cliff edges. It was another thrilling ride, more exciting than a roller coaster. We landed where Canyon Creek Glacier starts, surrounded on three sides by tall rugged mountains covered in snow and ice. After finding the most level spot on a mound of granite rocks we set up camp. It was raining as we secured the tent and put our packs under tarps. After a delicious Mountain House meal we retired. My spirits were lifted at the new prospects of this area and I had a hard time falling asleep, wondering what the next day would bring.

The rain had stopped during the night and the morning of Friday the 13th greeted us with overhanging clouds that threatened rain. After an hour of hiking it started to rain and the rain gear went on for the rest of the day.

We rounded the base of the mountain which opened into the canyon the rams were spotted in. One of the rams was bedded down in plain view. We backtracked to avoid being seen and went behind a hill of rickety rocks. From there we hiked to the middle of the canyon opening and peeked around to see where the ram was. We were clear and started toward the rams. The entire path was hiking over pile upon pile of rocks that the glacier had dumped in its wake. We came to the base of a glacier and without skipping a beat Johnny started up its steep face. I hesitated for a moment, concerned that I had to hike up a chunk of slick ice in the rain, then started up. There were rocks frozen into the glacier that provided good footholds up the 100 foot slope. Our next obstacle was a glacial stream five feet deep and at the narrowest part five feet wide with water roaring down a two-three foot channel. At one spot there was a small rock island we slid onto and climbed up the other side. After crossing a field of rocks and ice we came to a steep rock slide with cliffs jutting up the last thirty feet. On the other side was the grassy slope the rams were supposed to be on. We slowly made it to the cliffs and found a path of dirt about four feet wide. We started up the very steep chute. By gripping the rocks on my right and planting my walking stick on the left I clawed my way up the last obstacle.

Johnny spotted a ram bedded down at 350 yards that was legal. He stood up and I fired, he appeared hit. The final shot hit the spot and he was down. Thick fog rolled in and I would not have been able to shoot again.

I started shaking as the excitement of the moment settled in. I had just shot a dall sheep and successfully completed a hunt of a lifetime. I thanked Johnny and we hiked to my ram. He was beautiful with a perfect white coat and wide sweeping horns. I stood in awe at the beauty of the mountains around me and was so grateful that I had the opportunity to hunt these amazing animals. It is a hunt I will never forget.

We loaded our packs, Johnny with the meat and me with the horns and hide, and headed down the same chute we came up. We dropped the meat at the stream crossing and headed back to camp. It was a long hike back and I was ready to get out of my wet clothes and crash in my sleeping bag for the night. We ate the celebatory raspberry crumble provided by Mountain House and were out for the night. We went back in the morning with the sun shining down and picked up the meat. When we made it back to camp Johnny cooked up tenderloin on a flat rock. It was so amazing to eat fresh meat after six days of eating Mountain House, trail mix, and jerky.

Paul & Lonnie came to get us at 4:00 and we were on our way back to the lodge. I told Paul I was in no hurry so we went for a longer flight scouting for more sheep. He flew me low to the ground, close to cliffs and banked hard a few times to get my stomache rolling. I loved it and never felt nauseous. My hunt was coming to a close. I was having mixed feelings. I was excited to get home and see my kids, but I was not ready to have it end.

My Amazing Dall Sheep Hunt - Phase I

The trip to Ultima Thule Lodge was a bit long, but well worth the wait. I arrived in Anchorage around 2:00 p.m. and found my luggage with no problems. I met another sheep hunter on the same flight and we discussed our upcoming hunts while waiting for our luggage. This was his second dall sheep hunt, the first he came home empty handed. I enjoyed our conversations about hunting and could see he was a true hunter who loved it for the joy of hunting. His advice to me was to never give up, even when I felt like I couldn’t take another step, get up and keep going. He said it all comes down to mental toughness. Thanks, Wade, I hope you had a great hunt. I boarded a shuttle to my hotel on a rainy, overcast day. The locals say this is one of the wettest summers in a long time. I arrived at my hotel and waited for dinner with Ultima Thule guide Johnny, hunter Mario, and George, a friend of Johnny’s. We enjoyed a great meal at Glacier Brewery and got acquainted by telling hunting stories. Mario is from Spain and has hunted all over the world, he is a class act and I liked him from the start. He runs his family’s candy manufacturing business.

The next day I was picked up at 8:00 a.m. to begin the four and a half hour drive to Chitina’s airstrip (pronounced Chitna). We arrived at 2:00 p.m. after a few stops for snacks and lunch. The airstrip was a large parking lot with one log storage building that identified it as Ultima Thule Outfitters’. Johnny showed us the fishing wheels used for subsidiary fishing. Paul Claus, Ultima Thule owner, was due in at 3:00 to pick us up. He arrived on time and in a plane that is truly awesome. It is an Otter with a modified jet propulsion engine. It looked like a hover craft landing and only used about 30 yards of the runway.

My excitement showed regarding the plane and I was able to ride as co-pilot. I love flying in smaller aircraft. The country is beautiful with the Wrangell Mountains in the north, Chitina River directly below us, and the St. Elias Mountains in the south. It was a bit overcast so we couldn’t see the peaks, but there were two peaks above 16,000 ft. and a handful of others between 10,000 and 14,000 ft. on the Wrangell side. The lodge is indescribable. Everything that wasn’t taken from the land is flown in. They have a small tractor, four wheelers, a dozen or so structures, and gorgeous flower gardens. Dinner was excellent, sheep steaks and wild mushrooms over a bed of mashed potatoes.

The next day was Monday, August 9th. At 11:30 I was flown out to my hunting area in a SuperCub airplane with large tundra tires. We saw a lot of sheep on the way which was encouraging. I had three different landings, one in Hawkins Glacier where I was dropped off to wait for Paul, another on a glacier that we were going to hunt, and a third on a tundra knoll that my guide, Johnny, preferred over the glacier area.

It was beautiful in both spots, but the knoll had more impressive panoramic views. I could see the Barnard Glacier directly below us feeding into the Chitina River, University Peak to the northwest, and rugged, steep mountains to the southeast.

Supercub on tundra knoll

University Peak with Barnard Glacier belowCamp #1

I was excited for my hunt to begin. Johnny and I saw a few small rams really close to camp. The excitement was building and I couldn't wait to see what opening day of dall sheep hunting would bring.

Monday, July 12, 2010


We went for a drive looking for deer the other night. Porter and I went for a little walk and picked some wildflowers for Autumn.
She was very excited to get the flowers and would continually say, "I love my flowers." It was a cute moment.

Brayden is the one that put flowers in her hair while Porter and I were out for a walk. I thought they were a perfect touch.
It is amazing how fast these two grow and change.

Autumn is busy all the time, just going, going, and going. She loves to climb on anything and is pretty dang good at getting herself around. She loves to color, do puzzles, take baths, read to herself (she memorizes her favorite books and recites them to herself at night), her dolls, purses filled with random stuff, her fingernails and toenails painted, and Porter. It is so fun to hear her say "I love you" on her own now. She comes up with some really funny things to say like, "What are you talking about then?"

Porter is a boy through and through. He loves balls, cars, boxing, football anything (especially shirts that resemble a jersey), shooting, Little Jake books (stories about Little Jake and all of his hunting adventures), trucks, tractors, motorcycles, boats, taking baths, coloring, dinosaurs, and of course his sister. He is very protective of her and will scream and holler if anything is wrong with her. He is also talking really good. He has an analytical mind and studies how things work. He is free with kisses and hugs which makes me very happy!

The best part is watching them interact with each other. There is a true bond that is very strong. They fight, they hit and pinch, but more often they play together and talk about what is on their mind. Last weekend Brayden took Autumn to Lehi with him to stay with her cousins Sierra and Savannah while he went to an archery shoot. It was the longest we've had the two of them apart. We were able to witness them talking on the phone and it was a priceless moment. Porter's face lit up as he told her about his day. I could hear Autumn on the other end with bright and cheerful responses. It was amazing to see how excited they were to talk to each other. I love being their mother, they are the greatest joy in my life.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Kolob Canyon

I found these pictures from November of 2009 recently and thought I'd post them. Brayden and I stopped by Kolob Canyon on our way home from St. George while the kids were with Grandma Richmond. Our intentions were to go on a good hike, but we ended up hiking only one mile to this lookout. It was pretty though!

Me being a poser.
Two love-birds.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Holy Mess!

So far Autumn and Porter have been pretty good about staying out of things and not making any huge messes, but they do love to dump out laundry detergent. This is not the first time they've done this, but it is the messiest. As for the orange hat, I have no idea . . . . .

Picture taken 1-2-10

Beautiful Autumn and Porter's New Do

Autumn looked especially beautiful this Sunday so I got some pictures. I had just attempted to cut Porter's hair the day before and had a major mess up. Porter HATES getting his hair cut and screams the whole time. He jerked forward just as I was touching up the last bit of the top and caused a huge buzz streak down the middle of his hair. So he got the full buzz do. I personally hate him with a buzz. He is too pale and his hair is too light. He looks like he's going through chemo. This was back on 4/18/10 so he looks much better now.

Easter 2010

We had a great time for Easter. Beaver had an Easter egg hunt in the High School gym due to a snowstorm that left about 4 in. of fresh snow. It was a little crazy with all the kids packed in there and candy spread out on the floor. It was hilarious watching the mad dash. Autumn and Porter were more interested in watching the kids grab candy than getting any for themselves. It was hilarious.

We traveled to Blanding to hang out with the Richmond's. Autumn and Porter's cousins Sierra and Savannah were there as well and the twins loved it. They love their cousins so much and they play together really well. Porter is a little out numbered, but he still has a good time. We decorated eggs on Friday and enjoyed a picnic out by Deckers (about 20 miles south of Blanding with fun rocks to play on). There were 100 eggs for four kids. The Easter Bunny was busy at Deckers. All the kids had a great time hunting for eggs, playing on the rocks, hiking, and riding in grandpa's Rhino.

Autumn and Porter in their Easter clothes.

Autumn & Porter at the Beaver Easter Egg Hunt

The kids loved decorating eggs and I found out that Brayden is quite creative with egg decorating.

Porter plopped down and raked in the eggs.

Grandpa Richmond and Autumn enjoying Easter candy.

The cousins playing on the rocks.

Autumn showing off a cool rock she found.

Porter is loving life.

Porter loved throwing rocks off the cliff.

Fun in the Rhino

The First Snowman

So I'm no snowman expert and these pictures show it. We had fun though and the kids loved it. Every time it snowed they would get excited and ask to build a snowman.

Autumn had fun even though this picture doesn't show it!

Porter loves the snow. He'll pick up handfuls like this and throw in up in the air and watch it fall down.

Pictures taken on 2-20-10

Monday, February 22, 2010

Western Hunting and Conservation Expo 2010

We had a great weekend at the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo in Salt Lake City. We attended Feb. 12th & 13th. My awesome sister Tamara took care of Autumn and Porter so we could just relax and enjoy our time there. (Not that we don't enjoy the kids, but all you parents know it's good to have alone time every now and then!) After applying for hunts, attending seminars, and helping John Bair, our good friend and auctioneer, we enjoyed a yummy dinner and a concert by JoDee Messina. Saturday we checked out the booths and attended more seminars. One was by Carl Malone. He was pretty funny to listen to. He didn't have anything written down and he was all over the place with his topics of discussion. It was almost like a sermon. He gave his views on service, raising kids (for him whippings are the key), Mormons, and a little bit of hunting. The best part about Saturday was attending the newly formed Full Curl Society, a fundraiser group with wild sheep as the benefactors. At this I drew a DALL SHEEP hunt! It is a hunt worth about $20,000, and will be fully guided. For those who do not know what a dall sheep is, here is a photo.
Needless to say I am a little bit excited. It will be an awesome experience and will challenge me physically and mentally. Here we are at the Saturday night dinner before the Josh Turner concert. I am on cloud 9 from winning the dall sheep hunt.
Here is the handsome Josh Turner performing. He was really entertaining and we had a great time. Brayden even asked me to dance a couple times which made the night even better.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Happy 3rd Birthday Twins!

On January 25th Autumn and Porter turned three years old. It really has gone by so fast. I was looking at their baby pictures and I cannot believe how fast they are growing up. I love my babies. They had a fun birthday party with their cousins Sierra and Savannah, and their friends Trevon and Tatum. We had a camping themed cake to go with the sleeping bags they received from us. Autumn helped make the cake, at least she helped to make a bigger powdered sugar mess. I was pretty happy with how it turned out.

Grandma and Pa Richmond were at our house the week before their birthday and gave them MegaBlocks which they absolutely love. Porter really likes to make bridges for his car track out of the blocks. They also received puzzles, golf clubs, walkie-talkies, footballs, and play dough. They loved opening their presents and eating their cake.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Christmas 2009

This Christmas was so much fun with the twins. They started catching on to what the whole thing is about. Porter was brave and sat on Santa's lap requesting his race track and cars. Autumn was in line and I could tell she was getting progressively apprehensive. When it came her turn she declined sitting on his lap and opted for a wave instead. Brayden teased her that Santa wouldn't bring her baby doll since she didn't sit on his lap. She was worried and would say, "I not sit on Santa's lap. I not get baby doll."

We headed to Grandma and pa Richmond's in Blanding for Christmas. All the family was there except for Stewart and Carrie who live in Alaska. It was so much fun to have all the kids playing together. Autumn and Porter LOVE their cousins. Porter especially loves it when Coleman is around so he can play with a boy cousin. They also love their uncles and aunts and they were spoiled with attention the whole time we were there.

Christmas Eve was a special night with the reading of the Christmas story and the little ones acting out the parts. Sierra and Coleman were Mary and Joseph, Nana was an angel, Autumn was a shepherd and Porter was one of the wisemen. They all did great. The Elves visited and left some new pajamas.

Christmas morning was not a disappointment. The kids were overwhelmed with a bombardment of presents and they were happy with what they received. They had fun playing with their new toys. Porter loved all his cars and his race track. Autumn was thrilled to get a baby doll from Santa and also loved her purse with little dogs in it.

There was about two feet of snow, so we had to get the kids out to play in it. Grandpa Larry shovels the snow into a pile off of their deck and this year it was a good sized tower. The twins did their best getting to the top. They had a lot of fun for about a half hour then they were done.