We slept in a while having skipped using an alarm and started the day with a “birthday mocha” and some music before packing. Not long after we began heading further up creek the water dried out and the large boulders lessened making for easier travel across the stone strewn dry riverbed. In the afternoon as we silently walked along just several yards from one another, Goose in the lead as typical, I noticed a big horn sheep that was watching Goose and Shilo from a ledge not far above where they stood. I signaled to Goose with a whistle and when the ram realized that we had all spotted him he spooked and tried to run up hill away from us. He was stuck on the ledge however and when he realized he was trapped he turned towards us and began to charge at full speed straight down the rocky cliff side. Unsure if the ram was at charging us in aggression or fear we moved towards one another in the creek bed and Goose scooped up a rock to use as defense if needed. Luckily it was not needed, when the ram hit the dry river bed he hooked a hard turn away from us and sprinted as fast as possible in the opposite direction. We laughed as our nerves settled and then savored the experience of the close encounter.
We continued on hiking; together and apart, in intense conversations and in silence. As we walked single file along one level of a multi-level stone ledge we were startled by a female sheep that had been sleeping just above us. We walked below her bed without realizing she was there and as soon as we passed she jumped to her feet and ran the opposite direction. “Happy Birthday to you!” Goose exclaimed as we took a moment to appreciate our second close wildlife experience for the day.
As the evening sun set in warm hues of oranges and reds we found a huge cottonwood tree almost glowing with its bright yellow autumn leaves. There was a tarp sized flat sandy spot below the tree, a perfect place to call home for the night. After setting up the tarp I played ball with Shilo for a few minutes, her energy still high even after hiking all day. We then ate dinner, shared the last of the beer we had been carrying and made chocolate pudding for dessert. It was a gorgeous fall day in the desert and a very enjoyable birthday.