After many years we have sort of a standard joke here at the ranch. We are removed from much of the mass humanity of the big cities, with the house and range being at 5,500′ in the mountains of southern Oregon. Being somewhat remote, we often hear, “Man, if it goes south, like real Armageddon, I am going to the mountains to get away from the city and hide out!”

Well, this is funny after a fashion and even funnier now as there is a YouTube gig where sort of South Park-like characters talk of “going to the mountains.” Bluntly, it is hilarious and even more so because I have said these exact words to many students over the years. They come up with the “going to the mountains” and my response is “man have you ever been in the mountains? Especially in the winter?”

With images of the Wolverines from Red Dawn in their head, I issue a smiling but firm reminder: perception vs. reality in this case is a big deal—and dangerously misleading. So even if you “go to the mountains,” assuming the roads are open, your cell phone, GPS and other electric junk may not work. Which, if it “goes south” is probably OK, as all that crap will simply point someone to your location. That will be a bad idea since you are going to the mountains to hide, right?

I’m pretty sure all that stuff will be down eventually anyways, the batteries will die or the satellite systems will be shut off by the remaining entity in charge of the new rodeo. Anyways, you need something to haul all your junk to the mountains and, since it is the mountains, eventually you will run out of roads so you’ll want to be able to pack all your stuff into the mountains to your retreat. Remember: “pack in” like on your back in a pack.

So cars, trucks, etc. are a good deal as they carry lots of stuff, but only so far. And motorcycles? Remember, as they say in Texas, “Y’all be mindful of all them there cables strung across the roads.” Yeah, bike guys are going to be in for a shock when they “go South or North” because many who live in the mountains plan on obstructing the easy routes of travel like forest roads, paths, trails and so forth, or it could seem that way to the fledging wannabe Wolverines.

Just Kidding!

OK, we’ve had some fun and you can decide how serious this all is. There are a couple of things you should know about the mountains—I mean since you’re coming to live here and all.


In really crappy cold weather, your black AR will not work as you might hope. This is because your city-like lube will be in trouble here in the mountains when it is like 0 degrees outside for nearly all of January and most of February—maybe even March and April, which will be better but really wet because it rains a lot in the mountains, but I digress. The rifle (personal experience and tested information from a very knowledgeable mountain man John Noveske) has proven the use of a medium/light oil on the bolt/carrier and action spring in cold weather.

When it does warm up (if you live through the mosquito hatch) and the weather becomes more moderate to even hot, (remember sunscreen at your new high-elevation home or you’ll turn into a lobster) now use light grease on the action spring/buffer and the same grease can be used on the bolt and carrier. Don’t confuse which lube for the correct time of the year, as the light grease will get real tacky and sluggish to a point of failure if it is real cold out. The cycle of operation will slow and it will fail.

The single biggest point is do not over lube your rifle. Many of the failures we see with the rifles are caused by over lubrication that gathers more crud, which in turn shuts down the rifle. Dry, clean magazines means taking the ammo out of the magazines regularly and cleaning them (don’t worry, you won’t have much else to do in the mountains except take care of your gear and hide… and try to stay warm… and try to find food… and find or make water… just subtle things).

For bolt-action rifles, keep the bolt, chamber area and where the lugs lock up clean and dry. On M1A-type systems light grease is always correct and if it gets cold I get almost all of it off the rifle. Truly the “little dab’ll do ya” is true on the rifle. AKs follow the same rules as the M1A-type rifles. On all of the above keep the magazines and ammunition as dry and clean as possible.

Although many people poo-poo them, the MagPul magazines are good because they come apart easily for cleaning, so most of your attention can be directed to cleaning the magazine spring and putting clean ammo back into the magazines. Under calibers, I would stay with what you know to be most popular .223/5.56, 7.62×39, .308 and maybe a .300 Win Mag and so on. Handgun calibers are easy, even if handguns are not all that functional for mountain work, 9mm .40 S&W, .45 ACP. I would avoid exotic ammunition for your mountain guns, as chances are you might not be able to find the “Cosine-Indicating Computerized Environments Gathering .33/398 Bazooka Tactical Operator” ammunition. There’s not much of that here in the mountains from what I have seen.

A set of iron sights on whatever your rifle is might be a good thing. A .22 something might be good for small-game taking after the Omaha steaks and beer run out, and the .22 LR is pretty quiet for food gathering. You probably won’t want to share your newly acquired scrawny rabbit with the motorcycle gangs that moved into the woods when you did.

Water resistant—eventually there is no such thing as waterproof, at least in the mountains—warm layered clothing. Remember colors or cover-ups, as your cool digital something will be an eyesore in the newly fallen 3′ of snow you’re hiding in.

Get some good boots, as those Fuzzy Uggy things won’t cut it here up high. Consider a first aid bag—or at minimum bring an EMT with you (I have Heidi) as the hospital is closed up here in the mountains. And for God’s sake don’t get hurt, as the dust off chopper—you’ll need an flo-orange air panel so they can find you—will mark your mountain hideout to others.

If you want a good pack get an Eberlestock. And most of all… welcome to the mountains y’all.

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