Saturday, September 10, 2011

Bighorn Sheep! - September 10, 2011

Bighorn sheepNelson 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.

Bighorn SheepFinally, 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.

Bighorn footprintIt 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. icon

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4 comments:

  1. That's amazing! I do Mt. Baldy every now and then and hope to catch a glimpse. So far I'm a ohfer.

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  2. Congratuations on the big horn. I saw a herd of desert bighorn just west of West Baldy when I was up there, but none had the full ram horn. You'd figure there must have been an alpha male among them, but I didn't see him. Oh, well.

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  3. Wow! I love Bighorns! I just went to Icehouse last month! Check out my blog at www.hikinginsocal.blogspot.com

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  4. Some years ago, I was descending Pine Mountain Ridge and about 300 ft.down-ridge from me at about 8500 ft., I counted 17 Bighorn sheep--the most I ever saw. I also saw one on top of the west side of the eastern tunnel on the Angeles Crest Hwy on Mt. Williamson. The most startling encounter, though occurred early one morning at the 7900 ft. level of the Mt. Waterman trail. I just rounded the corner and nearly tripped over two sheep lying on the trail! They were not afraid and just slowly got up and ambled off; it was astonishing and memorable!

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