Random Encounter

Published 2008-09-29

Mark Seacat carries out the first load. Photo by Chris Awe

In my never ending search for total compatibility, commitment through hard times, and good looks, I have had many letdowns in my years. Friends have told me to lower my standards, get over myself, and to lay-off the pursuit. It wasn’t until early one fall in Montana that a friend paired us up.

Being the good buddy he is, Mark Seacat of Mystery Ranch had anticipated my anxiety and setup a blind date. As an avid hunter, scheduling was hard this time of year. My life evolves around long days in the mountains, seeking out adventure and game. Knowing this, the arrangement was made… 5AM, on the tailgate, under the moonlight, 40 miles away at my favorite trailhead.

With hunting, and the proverbial “One” on my mind, a ruthless devil started to turn inside me. Knowing all too well, we both agreed that it would be smart to have a third-party make the introductions. I got to the trailhead early. I incessantly dried my palms over the dashboard heater as I saw Mark’s headlights bobbing up the road.

Fumbling for my headlamp, my first impression was of shock and amazement. Initially embraced by a tight grip on my hips, and a firm hug around my chest, I knew this was love. With a tip of my hat to the almighty creator (Dana Gleason), I look back and can’t imagine life without the Crew Cab. Many adventures later, and zero modifications, we are what most people refer to as “a power couple”.

A season later however, the real test of our relationship was hardened. After a volley of whoops and he-haws, Mark and I began to understand the gravity of our recent success. A beautiful 370” class bull tangled by our feet, a hounding sun overhead, and a governing path to asylum, there was no time to squander.

Fueled by the fall of that massive animal… we idled like a couple of diesels, summoning the strength for the path ahead. With confidence, we each loaded our Crew Cabs with over 100 lbs. of freight. By doing so, we set in motion a chain of events that will likely never be forgotten by Mark or I.

Predisposed by our steep descent into that remote drainage, we chose to blaze a new path out. Intending to circumnavigate the rim of the canyon, we could’ve never imagined the terrain we would encounter. We told ourselves the path would relent around the next bend, and held our course. In reflection, I refer to the 5 hours that proceeded as “an outer body experience”.

We did successfully harvest and extricate that elk without any meat spoiling. From what I’ve seen and experienced, the Crew Cab made the deal come together. Having the ability to leave at the initial time of the kill with staggering loads, we were able to heave that elk out of the mountains before the sun, flies, or grizzlies got a turn. Thanks to such a burly pack design, our loads were securely fastened, allowing us to negotiate our turbulent path out. No pack I’ve ever dawned in the past would’ve held to that test.

I want to say thanks to the folks over at Mystery Ranch for producing and revolutionizing the backpack industry. The innovative Crew Cab has opened doors, and is helping to incubate and support a new breed of backcountry hunter.