Thursday, June 2, 2016

Desert Bighorn Sheep

How I managed to be located on Keys Ranch Road in Joshua Tree National Park behind the "Area Closed / No Trespassing" sign is a long, convoluted story. I tend to follow rules. I started off on my hike about 3/4 mile south of here. I was hoping to find a back way into the Cow Camp Dam area (the front way in is closed/fenced off... see what I mean about following rules?). I was hoping that the back way in (which required a lot of boulder-scrambling and cross-country travel) was not fenced off, and it would allow me to see an area of the park that I had never seen or read about. But let's save Cow Camp Dam for a future post. Bottom line, after all that boulder-scrambling, my legs had turned to noodles and were no longer following my mental commands. It was not physically possible for me to backtrack my hike back through the boulders, I was just too tired. I started thinking of the show "Naked and Afraid" and how people can tap out. Not an option here, so I forged ahead and ended up on a closed area of the road, and made a hasty retreat back to the open section of the road. If anyone from the National Park Service is reading this... my apologies! But I couldn't resist taking a few photos along the way!!
Keys Ranch Road... a pretty little desert road heading to Keys Ranch, JTNP
Bill Keys is a local legend in the JTree area. The Park Service provides guided tours to his ranch, which (I'm told) is fascinating. Here's a link if you want to learn more: Keys Ranch.

The sign says "AREA CLOSED  NO TRESPASSING"
Above is the view toward Keys Ranch. I sure can't fault Bill Keys for building his ranch here. It's gotta be one of the prettiest areas in JTNP!

It was somewhere around this area that an adult male bighorn sheep decided to jump across the road right in front of me! I didn't realize how large these guys are!! Or perhaps he seemed large because he was so close. Either way, he was way too quick for me to take a photo. I had never seen a bighorn sheep in JTree, not even from a distance, so my heart was pounding and the adrenaline was pumping. I changed lenses on my camera and decided to try to follow him to see if I could get a photo, knowing this was highly unlikely!
I couldn't believe my luck! He had run down into a wash next to the road, and then stood totally still (I'm sure waiting for me to leave). It gave me time to snap a couple photos.
What a beautiful animal!!


My new bighorn sheep friend is probably somewhere up in those rocks!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.
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Thanks for stopping by!!

39 comments:

  1. Wow. Lovely shots. Gorgeous creature. I must say I've found myself farther than I intended on hikes with the mind spinning, "I could die out here." I should carry a map. A compass might be good too. Winging it isn't always great. Especially if you can't see the horizon and every tree looks like another.

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  2. What a beautiful area you live in. Awesome. Someday.

    Worth a Thousand Words

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  3. What a beautiful area, no matter how you ended up there.

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  4. wow! fantastic! glad you made it out so you could share these. ;)

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  5. Wow you are a real adventurer! What a sighting

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  6. You have fantastic pictures to remember this adventure by.

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  7. Wow!!! It's honor to visit your blog. Fantastic captures!

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  8. What a wonderful set of images...and how fortunate to capture a mature ram in the process. Have a blessed week-end.

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  9. Beautiful pics, great captures of the bighorn sheep. Magnificent. I'm a rule follower also but on my various hiking, geocaching, picture taking adventures I have found myself on the wrong side of the no trespassing signs.

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  10. Wonderful post! Great story, and your captures are incredible. Glad you got a few shots of the bighorn.

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  11. Great story, I wondered how the part was off area/No trespassing with an open gate. in the UK that's an invitation to go in for a look but I can see the sign is old and also see why. What a wonderful place to live. As for Bill Keys he sounds Awesome a real hero in my mind. Your lucky to live in such a great area

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  12. I've spent a lot of time on the wrong side of No Trespassing signs without knowing exactly how I got there, so I quite understand. None of my transgressions has been so wild, beautiful or potentially dangerous - unless one counts a farmer with a shotgun in that category; he was wild and dangerous but by no means beautiful. Thanks for a wonderful series of shots.

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  13. Such a beautiful place!!The photoes are just outstanding!I enjoy!

    Thanx for sharing !

    Anita

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  14. Indeed very pleasant to see.

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  15. Wrong side of the road - oh, I love it! These photos are a joy and your ability to tell a story is so enjoyable, you open up a countryside that is so alien to mine and so beautiful. High drama!

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  16. Hello, beautiful shots of the park, ranch and the big horned sheep. The last two sunset shots are gorgeous. Happy Friday, enjoy your weekend!

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  17. Stunning landscape captured beautifully. Greetings!

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  18. I'm struck by your fascinating landscapes again. And you finished this post with a wonderful sky shot.

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  19. Great photos of the Big Horn Sheep!
    And the scenery is spectacular!
    Have a beautiful week-end!
    Lea

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  20. Wow congratulations on the Bighorn Sheep photos. The second one is worthy to hang on the wall.

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  21. Your work is always amazing. But I found these shots even more so. Everything looks so touchable. My congratulations on getting the Bighorn!

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  22. this is such an amazing nature. We have nothing even close to this. Thanks for sharing.

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  23. Peter, amazing, incredible pictures! The contrast in landscape out west blows my mind. I've just gotta see it someday. It's definitely on my Dream List to do. Now, I can't believe it that you saw a bighorn sheep so close, too. How thrilling is that? That sort of reminds me of time long ago when we were in the Smoky's with the whole family ~ small kiddos and in-laws. We were walking out from a trail when a large black bear just ambled out from nowhere. We stood stock still out of fear. That guy could care less about us, he just went on about his business without paying much attention to us. *phew* That was back in the day before I cared my camera everywhere with me and before the digital scene, but oh that would have been so awesome to have captured. Well, I'm just tickled for your experience and that you made it out of there alive. Thanks for sharing your gorgeous photos withe SWF gang and for your visit. Have a fototastic weekend, my friend!

    SWF: Rhododendron Blooms

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  24. Wow - amazing shots! And how great to see a longhorn.

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  25. Your photos are awesome! I have never seen bighorn sheep. They are so cool! I know the ranger lead tours to Keys Ranch. Not sure if they are the only ones who have access to the area or if you were driving in a different road. Looks like I have to go back to the park to explore more.

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  26. Heisann.... wonderful shots of the sky and the goats... impressive size of the horns! The scenery is amazing. Have a nice Sunday ;:OD)

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  27. Amazing photographs. Have a great week-end.
    JM, Illinois-U.S.A.

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  28. Stunning photos and very happy the Big Horn posed so nicely for you.

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  29. That's great you snapped that shot of the sheep, funny when I think of sheep I think of NZ's woolly sheep we have literally everywhere lol.

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  30. What a stunning looking place. Even the rocks look beautiful. Good thing you found your way out. Great shot of the handsome bighorn sheep!

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  31. Oh my gosh this is wonderful Peter. I'm so glad you (inadvertently) didn't follow directions. The big-horn sheep is beyond wonderful; I would be so thrilled. (And by the way, that sign is so weathered, you'd have a pretty good argument at not seeing it ... (just in case you need an excuse ever).

    We did the tour of the Keys Ranch and did enjoy it very much. We had just started RVing on that trip and my husband noticed that the Ranch was the only place in JT where there were hookups for an RV (just for one, for the work-camper couple who were being watchmen.) Back then we thought it would be worth having that job to be able to actually live in the park and still have our house with us. (We aren't rough campers, but we loved to hike and explore -- as long as we could come home in the evening to our bed and shower). However, we never did do that -- there were so many other places to explore. But JT remains just about our favorite NP ever.

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  32. Wow! What a stunning area and a fabulous experience to come across the Big Horn! As always, your posts is informative and loaded with fabulous images. This is such a contrast to where I live.

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  33. Fantastic photos! I've spent more time in JT than most folks, but I've NEVER been that close to a bighorn sheep there. Congrats on that! I'd probably be so shocked that I'd forget to take photos.

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  34. Great post and superb pictures! How lucky you were to bump up that bighorn sheep, beautiful animal!

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