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Thursday, March 3, 2011

"...out like a lamb."

Yesterday I wrote about lions. Today, lambs. As in, baby bighorn sheep. I was able to take Danika to Yellowstone National Park this past September (2010) and one of my goals was to climb Mt. Washburn with her... again. The FIRST time we climbed that together, she was 18 months old and Uncle Tom carried her the whole way. I was there with students from FLCC. Laura and Danika flew out to join us for a week and Tom and Kimberly drove up from Utah to do the same. The SECOND time we climbed it Danika was five and I hardly carried her at all.

Danika at the peak (Yellowstone NP, Sept. 2010)
 We got up early and drove to the trail head. I was excited to find we were the first car there. Our hike up was eventful, with a too-close encounter with a grizzly and her cubs ( a story for another day) and some sightings of other wildlife including some distant bighorns. These were the first for our trip so we took some time to enjoy them. We continued to the top and spent time in the small shelter there. On the way back down, we stopped to talk to a couple that were on their way up. As we talked, the woman noticed some sheep coming out onto the trail below us. Danika and I spent the next 30 minutes slowly approaching and taking photos.

Danika and bighorns (Yellowstone NP, Sept. 2010)
 Where are the "big horns", you ask? Well, on the males. Females have horns but they are smaller than those on a mature male. It is only the males that engage in the head-butting contests so the ladies do not need the heavy headgear. Typically, the males are more secretive than the females and there were no mature males in this group. There were, however, a few lambs that looked far too small to me to be mere weeks away from a Yellowstone winter...

Bighorn lamb, Yellowstone
One of the lambs walked very close to us. I should say for the record, that neither of us left the trail to approach the animals.

Bighorn lamb, Yellowstone NP

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