Bighorn Sheep Outing at Walker Lake
As enamored as we are with the Carson Valley, we looove us a good field trip! And I’ll just have to admit that I am crazy about sheep! Bighorns, that is. So, when Erik told me there is a place where one is virtually guaranteed to see them in the wild, I jumped at the opportunity.
Our first sheep “hunting” trip to Walker Lake, on the way home from the Burning Girl festival on the East Fork Walker River on the Fourth of July, 2014, left us empty-handed. We saw only awesome cliffs and a beautiful sunset, and heard only our own loud voices and the clank of our walking sticks against the rocks.
The second trip, we decided to use our “indoor voices” (shhhhh!) and leave the trekking poles in the car, and, lo and behold… my first sheep sighting! When I crept over the rise and peered down into the canyon to see a small group of Bighorn, I could hardly contain my glee! My heart was pounding in my chest and I just wanted to squeal, but didn’t want to scare them off! They spotted me and scrambled up the cliff to their ledge and cave, baby in tow.
Well, needless to say, I am now a sheep addict. We have returned several times, and only been disappointed the once. Every experience is different. On our last excursion, we pulled up to the usual spot, a trail on the west side of the lake, and geared up for the hike, when Vic, a local photographer and retired judge, pulled up in his big grey Ford F-350 pickup and asked if we were looking for the sheep. He showed us his camera and enormous lens, and directed us to follow him. We hopped back in the car and ended up at the Buffalo Stop BBQ, just off Hwy 95, and he gestured up the hill to the west. We geared up, anticipating a long hike, but only walked around a hundred yards before we came upon a group of thirty Bighorns! The group was less skittish (safety in numbers?) than before, so we were able to spend over an hour observing them. A rare treat! And speaking of treats, the Buffalo Stop was serving up some mighty tasty-looking grub with enormous plates of fresh potato chips and fries. We opted to hike and eat granola bars instead, but plan to return soon!
A little closer to home, the winter hiking in the East Valley is delightful. The early snows have cast a fresh glowing blanket over the sage, rabbitbrush and shot-up TV’s and washing machines. This quiet herd of wild horses (left) was as surprised to see us in their territory near Fish Springs as we were to see them!
Carson Valley Events
There are a couple of upcoming activities in the Carson Valley that are really worthy of a plug:
The Carson Valley Arts Council (CVAC) runs a screamin’ concert series. Their goal is to bring great music (along with visual art and drama) to the Valley and create a new performing arts center in the old Copeland Building. Coming attractions are singer songwriter Annie Bosko on Jan 22, and my fave, Dustbowl Revival, on February 19. This spunky eight-piece bluegrassy band bills itself as “mashing the sounds of traditional American music into a genre-hopping, time-bending Dance Party!” How can you not love a band like that? Concerts start at 7 pm at the CVIC Hall in Minden.
The annual Eagles and Ag event, which has been featured in a previous NevadaGram, is fast approaching (Feb. 18-21). This popular and well-organized event attracts people from all over the country to our Valley to view and learn about wildlife, ecology, and the ranching lifestyle. There are a variety of activities to choose from to accommodate people with different levels of mobility and financial prosperity. (For reservations click HERE.)
— Amy Meeks