Monday, July 7, 2014

Bighorn Sheep Count 2014

The Bighorn Sheep Count for 2014 was successful and no dead sheep like last year. With my back problems I had to go serious with ultra light backpacking. I needed to pack 4 days worth of stuff in my Mountain Smith TLS fanny pack. We had water cached at the count site already so all I needed to carry was 4 liters to get me up to Rattlesnake Spring in Anza Borrego Desert State Park. We left the parking areas as usual around 4:30pm so that we would catch mostly shade in the canyon on the way up. It is about a 3,000' ascent over 5 miles with some stretches of boulder hopping and climbing. We always take the route up with the dry fall which we ascend without a rope but haul the packs up with a light rope we carry along. It usually will take us about 6 hours to get to the spring so we arrive around 11pm. On our way out 3 days later we do the same thing, we leave in the evening to catch the shadows in the canyon and get to the vehicles just about dark at 8pm.

On my drive out to the desert I saw the Banner fire begin with just a small puff as I drove towards Dudleys Bakery, by the time I got to Ranchita it had turned into a big fire
Banner fire from Ranchita

Here is Gary & Randy at our count site. The spring is way down in the green brush. The sheep come in from all directions to drink, we just have to count, determine gender and type ie: Ram, Ewe, Lamb, Yearling. They can get mixed up pretty quick when there are 30 of them all down there so we also have to determine identifying features like scars, broken horns, etc. If we don't do that we will end up re-counting them again so it can get pretty tricky sometimes
Our count site

Here are some sheep going down to the spring
Bighorn Sheep going down to the spring

Here they are drinking from the water hole
Bighorn Sheep drinking at the spring

Here is what our count site looks like to the sheep
Looking up at our count site from the spring

My entire setup for the trip
All my gear used for 4 days

We managed to count 70 unique sheep over the 3 days we counted, that is a good number.

Thanks to everyone who volunteered their time to carry water to our count location, we could not do this without your help!


  1. Thanks for the recap and the volunteering. I always enjoy your annual count write ups. Us old guys with bad backs have to take it easy sometimes... :)

    1. Thanks Derek, just glad to be back out again, wasn't sure I would be able to make it this year.

  2. You really were traveling light. Sounds like interesting work.