I'll start by saying don't get your hopes up about the deer. We had a heck of a good time hunting above 8,000ft in the Sierra Nevada's, but the animals wee few and far between. This was the same story we heard from many hunters in this particular valley this year. Hunting is very unpredictable. Some years, a lack of food or strong weather, or many other factors will drive nearly all of the deer from one area and into another. Some years there is abundance everywhere you look. I have a feeling this year the deer had moved to lower elevation to intensively forage the incredible acorn crop...but that's just a hunch.
We did manage to have an excellent time hiking into our alpine camp by flashlight, slowly stalking through forest, meadow and open sage scrub, and yes, back at base camp, throwing the hatchet for a bit.
Dad, showing us how it's done.
When we left I was sure to fill up a gallon of fresh snow melt from an alpine stream for an upcoming brew...
I wish we'd had time to do a little fishing...I could hear the trout calling me in this spring.
Ron and Jesse came by the next weekend with some brew supplies, and we got cooking!
Ron cracked and cleaned the black walnuts I had foraged a week before while Jess and I started cooking the malt.
The plan was to make two brews; a one gallon experimental batch of ridiculously potent wheat beer and a one gallon experimental batch of black walnut Sierra Nevada spring water oatmeal stout (both with home grown cascade hops).
Cascade Hops from the family vine.
Black Walnut Snow Melt Oatmeal Stout
Potent Wheat Brew
We whipped up the concoctions (with fancy and not-so-fancy hats as it is tradition) and then moved outside to work on the cider.
We had four gallons of this year's organic heirloom golden delicious hard apple cider just waiting to be bottled.
It was a team effort, and by the end of the day we could happily sit back and admire the fruits of our labor.
Want to read more about the brews we made? Check out http://brewnorth.wordpress.
Keep the old ways alive!