Nelson bighorn sheep find their home in the San Gabriel Mountains. They are magnificent creatures. For years I’ve heard lots of accounts of hikers sighting them, but I’ve never seen one. I’ve been hiking these mountains for years and putting myself in locations where they are known to frequent, but they always have eluded me.
Year after year, hike after hike, I go without seeing any bighorns. I’ve been on hikes and met other hikers who have seen bighorns that day. I was at the Bridge to Nowhere and missed a herd by about 3 minutes. It seems that every hiker I’ve talked with has seen bighorn sheep. So how come I never get to see one!?
I’ve seen bighorn scat and footprints. I’ve seen where they have bedded down. I’ve seen the holes they’ve dug. I’m always on the lookout for them. But for some reason I just never get to see any.
Finally, Saturday, September 10, 2011, after 16 years of hiking all over the San Gabriels, my bighorn sighting drought ended! On Three Ts Trail en route to Timber Mt., I finally came face to face with a splendid bighorn.
I got an early start at the Icehouse Canyon trailhead at 5:15 and had total solitude the whole way to Icehouse Saddle. I spent only 5 minutes there and headed north toward Timber Mt. On the second switchback as I was approaching the ridge, I looked up and there was a magnificent bighorn ram standing majestically on the ridge about 150 feet away. I gasped in unbelief. Thankfully I had my camera in hand and was able to get a shot off before he moved. I got a second shot as he began to leave. I shot some video as he climbed the slope and two more stills as he disappeared.
It was a wonderful encounter! Over the years I’ve seen bear, deer, fox, bobcat, coyote, rattlesnake...but nothing compares to finally experiencing a bighorn sheep. I shall savor the experience.
View Three Tees Hike blog for the whole story of this hike
See Animals of the San Gabriel Mountains at Dan's Hiking Pages
Visit Dan's Hiking Pages