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Utah bighorn sheep, I have caught thee on the trail

Published June 1, 2012 2:22 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Canyonlands National Park — Ovis canadensis: He'd been elusive to me.

You probably know the creature as a desert bighorn sheep. I knew the species as an enigma.

I had seen mountain goats, deer, heard elk, chased a black bear, but in my seven years in Utah I had yet to see a bighorn sheep.

Then Sunday I was hiking in Canyonlands National Park with my friends and fiance. As we turned a corner walking toward Aztec Butte in Island in the Sky District, a hiker going the other direction told us to watch out for him — a bighorn sheep.

My eyes scoured the desert floor. Here was my chance.

Then, there he was on a low ridge 100 yards away. Standing then moving slowly, he didn't care about us at all. He represented victory to me. To him, I was another hiker unworthy of tallying.

We drew the binoculars and took turns watching him. We named him Steve. I'm not sure why.

We still wanted to reach the granary on the trail. So we left Steve alone. When we returned from the granary, Steve was still on the ridge. We watched a little longer before starting back toward the car.

Feeling victorious, I told new hikers walking toward Steve, "Hey, there's a bighorn sheep up there."

(Note: The facts in this story are true. The drama? That's flair.)

— Nate Carlisle

Twitter: @UtahHikes