Day 2, 10 a.m. PDT
We will fly to one of Collingwood's base camps in a DeHavilland Otter, a chubby-looking craft that took to being equipped with floats and earned distinction as the workhorse of the North. Alaskans and Canadians have relied on the Otter to ferry themselves and the necessities to far outposts in North America's most remote reaches.
The Otter will seat several passengers and lots of cargo, and yet can take off and land in relatively short runways.
The pilot's ready—and good luck—I get to sit in the co-pilot's seat.
3 p.m. PDT
The flight in proved to be pretty eye-opening, too. Persistent low clouds masking the ridgetops made for pretty risky flying. Our pilot was a cool one though--obviously experienced and skilled. He kept us low in the valleys, then skimmed through the passes with little clearance. A couple times he banked hard and circled repeatedly until the thickest cloud cover blew through.
After two (nerve-wracking) hours we arrive at one of the nicest hunting camps I've ever seen.
I am banking on my standby high-country rifle—a 6½-pound Kimber 8400 Montana in .300 WSM and its go-to load, Federal Premium with the 130-gr. Barnes Tipped Triple Shock. The muzzle velocity is a screaming 3550 fps and it shoots as flat as anything short of a .50 BMG. Three inches high at 100 yds., one inch low at 300. With the second reticle of my Weaver Grand Slam scope, I am dead nuts at 400. When I check it from the camp bench I am 2 inches too high and ¾ inch left. Corrections made, it hits exactly where I want.
Drew is going "old school" with his cartridge choice--the .270 Win. Just about every hunter who can read knows that legendary gun writer Jack O'Connor married the .270 to sheep hunting and in the process made icons of both. So Drew's playing with an ace in the hole. His rifle—a custom Bansner Ultimate One—needs a slight horizontal adjustment.
That done, confident and anxious, we repack our gear for the long horseback trek to spike camp.
Tomorrow will be mostly spent in the saddle.