Hello, Benjamin from Brother’s Campfire here!
Gather ’round and I will spin you a tale about a mountain man I met.
Yesterday, I got up bright and early. I would be traipsing off to the San Isabel National Forest near Beulah, Colorado with D.B. Achen.
I had heard legends about this man and that he was impossible to keep up with in the forest. It was my turn to find out.
Departing well prepared, my day pack contained numerous layers, firestarters, a water purification system, a stack of energy bars and trek poles. It was about 11 pounds so travel could be efficient.
The drive was beautiful and I passed the antique town of Florence and the Federal Prisons.
I was to meet up in Wetmore, Colorado at a church.
Being first to arrive, I walked around and read some signage. According to what I read, the men of the town weren’t into the whole God thing and the women founded the first church there.
I waited about 10 minutes, and a truck pulled up. It was D.B. Achen, right on time. He asked me to follow in my car and had me park at the base of a washed out dirt road. From there, we took his truck to the cabin.
It was well kept and everything had a place. The decor was rustic, complete with wood stove, a rough hewn dinner table, a tribute to John Wayne hung by the door, and a large skull placed prominently on a mantle over his father’s fly rod and basket.
Knowing he was a very private man, I did not take any pictures without permission.
“What kind of skull is that?” I asked.
“Bear,” He said simply. Opening a door to a room, he showed me the bear he had killed with his bow.
D.B. Achen didn’t have a lot to say about it other than he died quickly.
As we went back to the pickup, I saw a line of archery trophies in his garage. This man knew what he was about.
We hopped in the truck and went off to the range wondering what kind of day it would be.
Ach, pronounced “occ” was a calculated, measured archer. Many of his shots were in the 65 yard range with about a 4 inch shot group. While I am no archer, I can attest that the intermittent breeze was accounted for in the shots.
It is fascinating to observe someone so focused that recording does not phase them. He made a large number of well-placed shots with minimal error.
The hike was a place of Ach’s choosing, one of his favorites. I would have recorded it but it is his trail, and I was fortunate that he invited me.
The pace was the long gait of a woodsman, something I am accustomed to. Neither of us were prone to stopping and we made excellent time.
The area was burned out from a fire not too far back, and it reminded me of the solitary man I walked with; battle hardened from life and yet full of vigor.
As I pondered these things, Ach froze. He had heard something. At first, he thought it was rocks moving, and then pointed to a woodpecker. You may or may not see him, but he is up there.
Ach was a silent one, at peace in the forest. He had a calming effect when he did speak, and we had numerous encounters with deer and elk, at times within easy bow shot.
While I can get in rifle range like the picture below, Ach has a knack for nearly walking right upon them. I did my best to be quiet and follow his footsteps.
Completing the hike and the simultaneous stalk at a pace of a little over 3 mph, we dropped back by Ach’s cabin for a Pepsi. I did not see him drink a drop the entire way. Perhaps he is made of leather or something.
Ach was inclined to show me the area as I was not familiar. We hopped in his pickup and drove through rugged country, the likes of which I had never seen.
We turned off on a dirt road. Knowing the habits of the animals Ach showed me the Happy Hunting Grounds of generations before, flourishing with elk.
It began to grow dark and on the way back, I thanked Ach for letting me hang out with him and invited him over for an afternoon, but there was one problem….
He had not been to town in over a decade and it would break his track record.