Twelve Ewe Canyon and Golden Dream Mine
United States Arizona Yuma
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For me, there is nothing more exciting about the desert than to encounter a desert bighorn. I’ve had the privilege on occasion in my desert treks to accidentally stumble across a few lone rams or ewes and on one trip to the desert I saw a flock of more than 10. Most of these sightings have been to the north, either in the mountains along the Colorado River, or in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. Saturday, Bob Filler and I were lucky to have been in just the right place at the right time to see 12 bighorns in the Gila Mountains less than 10 miles from our houses in Mesa del Sol.
With the calendar showing May it is usually means 100 degree temps and the end of hiking. Twenty-ten has been an unusually cool year here in the desert southwest and with the forecast of temps in the low 80s we thought we’d try to get in one last hike for the season. I told Bob about a trail heading south between the B-17 crash site and the Jester Trail. At the end of the trail is the Golden Dream Mine (GDM). While the hike is long (8 miles round-trip), the trail is well-defined and rises consistently but gradually from 700 ft at on the east side of the Jester trail to 2,720 ft at the high point just above GDM.
I had mentioned that I had seen bighorns out here before and as we were climbing the trail on the south side of the canyon, Bob let out his patented sheep call. About 5 minutes later I thought I saw a bighorn on the ridge to the north of us. As we were looking several ewes and a couple of older lambs appeared and kept an eye on us as we took some photos. As our trail traversed a drainage on the north face of the mountain we were climbing I looked back towards Bob and several hundred feet above him were two more bighorns on the south ridge. All-in-all we think we saw at least 12 different sheep.
I had been up the trail several times in the last few years, but I had never climbed to the high point which is a very prominent point that can be seen all over Yuma. From the top there were great views all around. To the south the border fence on the border with Mexico is a very prominent black line in the sand. To the west Yuma and the Imperial Dunes dominate the view. To the east the Gila Valley and several mountain ranges are visible.
It was nice of the bighorns to give us one last show for the season.