Friday, January 14, 2011

It must be a beautiful landscape if bighorn sheep that see the sun rise here every day still scale a boulder to watch the day break. I've always heard that bighorn sheep are out there, but that they will always spot you first and freeze in place so that you'll never spot them against the composite palette of stone. However, this morning, I caught this ram in a moment of vulnerability as he watched the sun surge over the limestone mountains in the distance to draw out the surreal red of the Aztec Sandstone that pushes through the valley floor.

As I got closer, the ram was joined by two others who stood entranced by the sunrise until they noticed me creeping along the base of the boulder about 150 feet away. Suddenly self conscious, they began to climb down and walk along a stony ridge. Pretending not to notice me, they paused occasionally to chew some long grass protruding from cracks in the sandstone. Led by the elder, the trio began to trace a meandering path towards me and my car. I took the hint and hurried back and left them to enjoy the rest of their morning.

After all the time that I've spent out here, the largest animal I'd seen had been a jackrabbit. To reach the top of that hill and see a full grown bighorn standing on that rock was both more startling and overwhelming than I had imagined.

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