Saturday, September 28, 2013

Elk Hunt

Here is the long awaited elk post!   After years of putting in for the limited entry elk hunt in the Wasatch unit, I was finally successful.  Back in May when I first noticed a charge on my credit card from division of wildlife services, I was confused at first.  But then slowly it started to sink in.  I was going to finally be able to hunt a big bull elk.  In Utah, the general hunt is pretty much spike bull only.  You can only get access to hunt the big bulls through a lottery system.  The state only gives out a limited number each year.  The good thing about this system is that it helps bulls to get big in the state.  The bad thing is that it can take on average 12-15 years to draw out.
I had scouted out my area a ton over the summer in preparation for my hunt. I probably went scouting about 10 separate trips up there. The week before Labor Day I went up with Tucker and we were woken up at 3:00 in the morning to a bull elk screaming and hollering. Turns out, I ended up shooting this bull (same canyon where we heard him, and we recognized his bugle. He had a very distinct bugle. High pitched). It made it pretty special for Tucker to look back and think that we heard him that night sleeping under the stars.
The buckets of rain that had fallen on this area made for a challenging and uncomfortable hunt. I don't think I ever remember roads being muddier or more slick than they were. If you didn't have chains, you weren't getting anywhere. The underbrush was just drenched with water and brushing up against it guaranteed that you would get soaked. I've never seen the forest around here that green in September. It felt more like I was in the Olympic mountains of western Washington. Hiking around the steep, 45% grade slopes we were on felt more like a slip 'n slide. But, knowing that I was after a trophy bull made it all worth it.
Anyway, I headed up on Friday and me, my dad, my cousin Jaron and my uncle Rees all spent the night in my trailer trying unsuccessfully to sleep because we couldn't wait for sunrise for opening morning.  Well, opening morning my cousin Jaron and I started out on the ridge and heard some bugling in the canyon below us that we had decided to hunt. We tried some cow calls, and he would answer back. He had a harem of cows, so he didn't want to leave them, but would call back every time. Over the course of a few hours we would cow call, locate him, and sneak in on him closing the distance each time. He was slowly feeding and pushing his harem to some deep timber to bed down for the day. We put the wind to our advantage and were able to position ourselves across the canyon from where we could hear him. At about 11:30 he bedded down with his cows and went silent. To this point we hadn't seem him yet, but knew he was the herd bull because we had seen about 5 satellite bulls hanging around the outskirts.
We decided to wait him out, knowing that he was there. At about 2:00 he started to talk again. Now there was a second bull bugling back. The second bull wouldn't respond to cow calls, just bugles (because he wasn't the herd bull), but the big bull we were after was still responding to us. We thought the other bull might be bigger because he had such a deep, throaty bugle. I know, you can't judge the size of a bull by the bugle, but we still wondered. We could only catch occasional glimpses of the second bull, but we knew he was big. We held out though in hopes of the herd bull.
At about 4:00 his cows started to trickle out of the pines and down into some aspens where we could catch glimpses of them. He began to work them back into the trees and he finally stepped out into the opening at about 630 yards away. We were so excited to see a gorgeous, big bull like that. I didn't feel comfortable shooting at that distance so we waited as he slowly made his way down the hill. That was the longest 30 minutes for me. I was panicking that he might duck back into the pines and out of view, but fortunately for us he continued on down towards an opening that was just over 400 yards away. We got a kick out of watching him rake the trees, bugle, and push his cows back into the trees.
After about 30 minutes, once he finally arrived at that spot at 400 yards, I pulled the trigger. I shoot a .300 ultra mag, 180 grain bullet. I can't believe that I didn't stop him in his tracks. You'll see from the video that I hit him 3 times, all good hits, but that beast was still able to get up and walk. Unbelievable how tough those guys are.
I measured him myself and got a score of 328. I'm sure it's wrong, but he is at the taxidermist right now and I should have a better idea of the accurate score in a few weeks. Either way, I'm super pumped to get him. I love his width and his cool front tines how the turn up at a 90 degree angle. I went into my hunt hoping for a 340-360 bull, but said I would be ecstatic with anything over 320. He's not the biggest bull on the Wasatch, but I am happy. Above all else, I loved being able to actually hunt and not have to worry about throngs of other hunters pushing the game around. We were able to implement strategy and call back and forth with that bull. That to me was the most fun. My cousin and I had an awesome time, and I owe him big time for helping me to pack it out and for filming it. He's a stud.
We also were able to recover one of my bullets. It had entered behind the shoulder, passed through all the vitals and stopped right in the hide on the opposite side.
We ended up not even being able to use the horses we brought. We shot him down in an area that was too steep and densely forested for the horses to access him. The ground was so muddy and slippery on that steep slope that they couldn't get a firm footing while descending. They started to freak out and my cousin and I were in a rodeo for a few minutes trying to get Dutchess and Lexie to calm down. So we tied them up at the top of the ridge and did it the old fashioned way. We packed it out ourselves. Good thing we are young and in shape.

Jaron spotting for some elk.

The hillside we were watching and ended up shooting my bull on.

My dad and me above the canyon where we shot the bull.

The position where the bull died.

He had a huge body!

Starting to cape and quarter the bull.

 Jaron and I ended up packing the meat and antlers out without the horses.  We packed most of the meat out on Saturday night, but had to quit because the sun set and we began to become hypothermic in that cold with our soaking wet clothes.  My dad had to peel us off the bull and take us back to the trailer.  Having that warm trailer, with warm food and dry clothes was heaven sent.  I loved it.  In fact, after I changed into some dry clothes that night and was eating some of the elk stew that Jaron brought, I started to drink a cherry Pepsi, and it felt like a little piece of heaven.  It's amazing how tasty that soda was after an exhausting, wet, cold day like that.
Here is a picture of Jaron with the antlers on his back.  Let me tell you, hiking that large rack up a steep, wet, slippery slope can be quite the challenge.

As I mentioned earlier, the roads were pretty much impassable without chains.  Jaron captured some really cool photos of my muddy truck.

We attempted to load up the horses on Sunday and take them down to the elk.

 Although they look cool and it was fun to ride them, we didn't get to use them to pack out the elk.  Maybe some other time.

While we were skinning the bull, Jaron found this bullet that had entered one side of the bull, tore through him, and embedded in his hide on the opposite side.  This is what a 180 grain .300 ultra mag bullet looks like after flying over 400 yards.  In under half a second it travels that distance and mushrooms out like you can see in the photo.  It hits the target like a spiraling razor blade.

Jaron also put together an awesome video.  Go check it out!
In all it was an incredibly fun hunt with Jaron, my dad, and my uncle Rees.  I really enjoyed being up there with them.  Good times.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Left, Right, Left, Right repeat for 26.2 miles

 One of my best friends in the whole world loves me so much. She registered to run the Big Cottonwood Marathon with me on September 14th. Training was very hard to do over the summer. Thankfully we both have supportive husbands that let us run our crazy training runs and watched our kids. Katie lives in Spokane, Washington, but we ran together often when we lived by each other in Owings Mills, Maryland for 2 years while our husbands went to dental school together at the University of Maryland. Katie and I ran our first half marathon together 9 years ago in October of 2004. I've come a long way since then. I ran in cotton shorts and Salomon hiking shoes. I quickly learned and purchased running shoes. I have so many fun memories of running with these ladies. This was prekids for myself and Emily.
Katie, Me, and Emily
Katie and I have remained close friends since graduation, and she even took me on a girls trip last summer to San Francisco with another of our dental friends. It was a much needed break away from my new cancer reality. When I mentioned that I wanted to run a marathon she didn't even hesitate. She told me to tell her which one and she would register to. Little did we know what we were getting ourselves into. We've both run lots of halves, but never a full. I choose the Big Cottonwood marathon because of it's proximity to my home and how beautiful the colors could be and it wasn't on a Sunday. 

Katie flew in Thursday night and spent the night at our house in Midway. We went out to lunch on Friday (to celebrate my upcoming birthday) and then picked my kids up after school. We drove down to Sandy to go pick up our race packets at the expo. I drove Katie down the canyon so she could get a feel for the race course. 17 miles down the canyon and the last 9 miles winding it's way around Cottonwood Heights and Holladay and ending at Cottonwood High School.
I was looking forward to the race for a few reasons. One, it has been on my bucket list since I found out about my brain cancer. I submitted my story to the race and ABC 4 contacted me to do an interview with me. It aired on tv a few days before the race. If you haven't seen it, you should be able to view it here.

After we picked up our race packets we went out to dinner at Rock Creek Pizza with my entire family. My sister and her family came into town for the weekend and so we had a fun celebration together. Rose and Dede spoiled us with our favorite foods. Afterward Katie went to her hotel to wait for her husband to fly in. I left my kiddos with my Mom and drove to my Grandpa Foster's house to sleep there. My Mom's house was going to be full with Heather's family and my kids and my Grandpa knew I needed to get some sleep. The basement room was perfect. I set all 3 alarms I had and caught about 4.5 hours of sleep before waking up by myself at 3:30. My alarms all went off at 3:45 and I ate my breakfast of a bagel and banana and headed to the bus pickup area.

Katie's husband dropped her off with me so we could take the bus up the mountain together.
Cody's cousin from Idaho also signed up for the race and I met her at the start too. Her name is Melanie. We saw each other earlier in the summer at a family reunion. She's a rock star too for undertaking a marathon. She's done triathlons, but not a full. All 3 of us rode the bus up together. There were about 15 school buses that took the marathoners to the top. About 3/4's of the way there we came to a halt. the 1/2 marathoners were driven up in a different location on nice Le Buses. Well, one of them thought they could make the sharp turn up to Guardsman Pass. Wrong. The bus became high centered and we were all stuck behind it. It was going to take an hour for help to come, so we were finally told to start walking to the starting line. About 3.5 miles up the canyon. Not what you want to hear, but it was the only way. We had walked about 1/2 a mile when a bus finally made its way around. It picked us up and drove us to the top. Mayhem is a great word to describe the chaos at the beginning of a race. 30 porta potties with lines and runners everywhere. Katie and I thought we'd be unique in our new matching bright yellow shirts, but no, that was a predominant color on the course. Even Melanie got the memo!

Because of the bus delay, the race started 30 minutes late. 7:10am. Thankfully I had my cell phone with me and texted my parents and let them know. We had a general meeting time scheduled for when I assumed I would cross (noon) and didn't want them standing around for extra time if it could be helped.

The first part of the marathon was very steep downhill. I did a couple downhill training runs, and my muscles hurt - a lot. I think they finally stopped hurting only a couple days before the race. It wasn't too bad though. Before mile 6 you come upon Silver Fork Lodge. My Reid cousins have a cabin by there and Heidi told me that she might come to the curb to cheer me on. As we got closer I saw a bunch of people. Then I realized that it was all the Reids. My aunt and uncle, cousins, spouses. It was awesome! Just the pick up I needed. I gave my aunt Ruth a hug and Heidi and Loren snapped some photos as Katie and I continued our run.
Can you tell I'm happy to see them!

Britney started a high five line.

High fiving Loren.
And we're off again.

There were professional photographers placed along the race course. Katie and I were together for the majority of the canyon ones. We are still happy...
And then Katie got hurt. Her calf was really bothering her, but not just bothering, but killing her. The pain was horrible and she knew she had a blister that had popped. I walked with her for awhile hoping that she'd be able to run again. We were in this together. When we reached the bottom of the canyon, Katie begged me to keep going. I refused at first. There was no way I was going to leave my best friend on the course. We were supposed to finish together. She told me that if I went ahead it would help motivate her to keep pushing through the pain. I did not want to leave her, but knew all the support I had waiting for me at the finish line. I couldn't stop. She promised me she would finish and to watch for her and we could run across the finish line together.
I pushed on, but hit a really big wall. I mentally and physically was exhausted. My body hurt and I didn't see how I could finish 6 more miles. 1 more hour. I walked/slow jogged the last 5 miles. I was so slow, but had to keep going. 
You can see in my face that it was getting harder and hotter.
The sun finally warmed up about 10:30 and once out of the canyon it began to get hot. Thank goodness for water/Gatorade stops every mile or two. I walked through the water stops, drinking and occasionally texting my family with updates of where I was. 4 miles left, 3, so close.

Right before mile 26, I could see my Dad and Aubrey standing next to the mile marker flag. I was so happy to see them, but couldn't muster up enough energy to sprint to them. I slowly made it to them and Aubrey was geared up to finish the race with  me. 
She took off and I had to ask her to slow down and walk for a little bit. It's only .2 miles to the finish line, but my body just wasn't moving. Once we got into the chute to the finish I saw my Mom and kids. I smiled, and gave it everything I had. I grabbed Aubrey's hand and rushed to the finish line. My fan club was larger than I knew. All my grandparents were there, Heather's family and my parents and kids. (It also happened to be my parents 35th wedding anniversary). Cody was hunting and Tucker was with Grandma Calderwood at a soccer game and birthday party.
You can see my Mom, Heather, Grandma G and Grandpa F in the back left corner of the picture.
Love this picture with my running girl.

Heather and Ethan

Grandpa Foster, Ethan, Grandma Grant, Blake and Cole. They all made Katie and I posters.
 Once I was finished I grabbed the nearest water, received my medal and was so happy to be done. But worried about Katie. Melanie finished a long time before me, so I'm glad she didn't wait and run with me throughout the race. My official chip time was 5:25. Super slow, about a 12:26 mile, but I did it!
 Post family pow wow. Probably telling them what happened to Katie.
 I'm glad there were banners around to take pictures in front of. Everyone was in this one except for Cole and Dan. Dan took the picture and Cole wasn't cooperating. Blake decided to be a stinker too. You can see how my Grandparents are looking at him. I bought the little boys t shirts from Old Navy that say "Mom's #1 fan!) But, they wanted nothing to do with pictures, so no shot of it.

I tried calling Katie multiple times after I finished. She had sent me a text that her leg had completely seized up in a charlie horse. I didn't know what to do. I thought maybe she was in a medical tent somewhere. I was about to get in my Mom's car when I looked back at the finish area and there was Katie, finishing the race with her husband, Rob. I was so happy to see her. I screamed her name and hobbled over to see her. She had gotten her leg rubbed down with salt and massaged out her muscles. She did it and finished the race in under 6 hours. I was completely amazed at her determination. We did it! We ran a marathon!

 I read this quote a day after the race and it completely shows the friendship Katie and I have.

After the race I drove back to my Grandpa's house to take a shower. My Mom schedule a post marathon massage for me. I took my shoe off and saw this lovely blood blister on my foot. I knew it was forming about half way through the race and I'm so grateful it didn't pop while running. I had several people tell me to pop it and let it drain, but after googling it I decided not to. Blood blisters are supposed to heal on their own. I wore sandals for a week and it is still healing. The blood doesn't squish around anymore and I'm sure it'll be gone in another week.

Now a week after the race I am still sure I don't want to run a marathon again. A half, sure! The Big Cottonwood half would be a great race, probably one to get a personal record at. Maybe next year! I'm so happy that I accomplished something hard, very hard. It is officially checked off my bucket list. As much as my family hates for me to say this, now I can die having successfully finished another item on my list! No dying going on here though. My next MRI is in a week. Praying for continued healing and stability.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Odds and Ends

I know all of you are anxious to see two of the biggest posts of the year (Lisa's marathon post and my elk post).  But first here are some odds and ends that we have been up to recently.  Our good friends from dental school, the Lintons, were in town visiting from Oregon.  They were staying at the beautiful lodge at Aspen Grove, so we jumped in our car with the kids and met up with them.  It's always fun reuniting with dental school friends.

It's crazy to think that when we started dental school we didn't have any kids, and now we each have 4.  Such cute kids.  Imagine if we had to pack all these squids up when we took those camping trips to the beach?

On Labor Day we took the kids over to Soldier Hollow for the annual sheep dog championship and festival.  This was our attempt at a family photo.  Blake decided he didn't want to cooperate, at all, so all of the photos were of him with his back turned to me and wandering around.  Anyone want a toddler?

It was a really cool thing to watch in action.  The competition times (Only 24 minutes to complete the course) a dog trainer/handler and the dog on how fast they can work the sheep through a series of gates.  They start at the top with a group of 8 sheep that have no collars.  They are to push/herd this group through one set of gates then leave them down below the large digital sign.  Then they have to run back up to the top and grab another group of 8 sheep, this time with red collars, lead them through the same gate, unite them with the previous group of 8, and then work all 16 sheep around a pole where the handler stands, up through one set of gates then turn sharply to the left and across the field through another set of gates, then back down to the bottom into an area that was chalked off as a big circle in the grass.
This is where things got really interesting.  The dog had to separate out all but five red collared sheep.  Push the other 11 off to the side while keeping the other 5 in the circle the whole time, then take the 5 red sheep over to a tiny enclosed pen and put them inside.  It was so cool to see how good those sheep and handlers were.

There were many other attractions there as well, like a petting zoo with some cool animals the kids enjoyed.

And to top it off there was the dog jumping competition.  Some of those dogs can seriously fly.  Here is a german shorthair like we had when I was a kid.

This Newfoundland dog set a world record for his breed.  He jumped over 21 feet that day.  Incredible that a dog that size can jump that far.

In other news, my dad and I got season tickets to BYU football this year.  The home opener last week was against Texas.  My dad and I ended up at the stadium about an hour early and unfortunately for us we got absolutely hammered by the rain.  As we were parking the car we saw some clouds that were incredibly dark and ominous.  They reminded us of the clouds that precede a tornado (surprisingly both my dad and I have been through a tornado, both in Kansas, but not together).  We eyeballed the clouds from my truck, then I had this brilliant idea to try and out run the storm and get into the stadium.  We almost beat it too.  About a block from the stadium the skies opened up and it was like standing under a fire hose.  We ended up finding shelter at the chapel that is on the north west corner of the stadium, but not until after we had been soaked to the bone.  It was insane how much rain came down on us.  The game had to be delayed because of the foul weather, but by the time it had started my dad and I had purchased sweat shirts from the stadium book store and rain ponchos and were warm and dry the rest of the night.

Our seats are pretty good.  We are in the west stands, about half way up.  It turned out to be a really, really fun game to attend.  BYU absolutely dominated and pounded Texas.  It was not the result I was expecting.  I had a great time with my dad and am excited for the rest of the games this year.  Go Cougars!