Finally, Some Bighorn!

Sometimes I wake up on a day I’ve planned to hike and really don’t feel like going.  Yesterday was one of those days.  I had lost track of time the night before and hadn’t planned a new hike in an area I hadn’t been. On Wednesday’s I like to do a challenging hike that usually requires me to study the map to make sure I get in enough mileage and elevation gain.  I decided to hike to Mt. Baldy again for the tenth time this year and throw in a side trip to West Baldy.

One of the great things about hiking is that there are unpredictable elements to it.  Between weather, wildlife, and other hikers; I find something unique about every hike no matter how many times I traverse the same trail.  Since I learned about the presence of Bighorn Sheep in certain areas of Angeles Forest (the Mt. Baldy area being one such area), I’ve been looking forward to seeing them in person.  After about forty hikes in those areas, I finally saw some yesterday just below the Ski Hut on the Baldy Bowl Trail.

For close to ten minutes it was just me and four Bighorn Sheep.  They were aware I was there, but just kept foraging.  Three of them are pictured in the photo below.

My moving to different spots to take photos drew their attention, but didn’t cause them to move away.  They just got back to doing what they were doing.

Because they stayed calm and didn’t run off, I got to enjoy watching them while feeling I wasn’t invading their space.

After about ten minutes another hiker came and also had time to take plenty of pictures, followed by three more hikers.  The Bighorn got spooked and ran up the mountain when another hiker with a dog came down the trail.

Finally seeing some Bighorn Sheep made my day.  Unexpected joys like this are what make hiking so special to me.  The day started with me uninspired and ended with me looking forward to my next hike.

20 thoughts on “Finally, Some Bighorn!

  1. Thanks for checking out my blog. It looks like your scenery is just as beautiful as mine! I love the pictures. It’s hard for me to see wildlife on my hikes with a kid and all. One of these days….

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  2. Potential climbers of Big Iron should start very early in the morning at the East Fork Ranger Station, 18 miles from Azusa. Walk past the locked gate and follow the old East Fork Road for a quarter mile or so to a small clump of pine trees. On the right side an old rusty is hidden which says, “Heaton Flat Trail.” Follow this trail up the slope to the ridge top along which the trail rides over several bumps to a prominent saddle at 4582′. Here the trail more or less ends at an old orange, rusty metal triangle on a pole. Old trails head down into Coldwater Canyon on the right and around the slope to Allison Mine on the left. Do not follow these trails, rather just follow an old scrambling trail straight up the ridge to the North. Continue up this incredibly steep and open ridge above the chaparral line at about 6500′ where the going becomes much easier. Continue on to the 8007′ summit where the weary hike will be rewarded with sweeping views of the San Gabriel River country, the most wild terrain in the LA area. Note the ridge leading east to Mt. Baldy. Climbers have reached Big Iron via this route as well (see “Iron Mountain via Mt. Baldy”). Keep an eye out for bighorn sheep!

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  3. Great pics. I never seem to have my camera handy when I come across wildlife while hiking. Well, that, or they come stumbling through my camps at night when it’s too dark to get a decen shot of them anyway.

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  4. On Saturday, nine Webbies took their first intrepid steps toward joining the 10,000 Foot Club. With fearless leaders Mr. Dahlstrom and Ms. Turville, we gained several thousand feet of altitude, reaching the top snockered but happy. Climbing by way of the Sierra Club Hut, we saw four bighorn sheep, then crossed the Baldy Bowl, hiked to the ridge, and endured one final set of switchbacks to the peak. From the top, we spotted Gorgonio and San Jacinto, the two other peaks needed to join the 10,000 Foot Club. A walk down along the Devil’s Backbone and then the ski lift to the parking area ended the 8-hour journey. Congratulations to Tina, Rita, Alanna, Will, Terence, and Ray for taking the challenge!

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