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The wild sheep ranks highest among the range, with summits rising from eight to animal mountaineers of the Sierra. Pos- twelve thousand feet above the level of the sessed of keen sight and scent, immovable sea, every one of which, according to my nerve, and strong limbs, he dwells secure own observations, is, or has been, inhabited amid the loftiest summits of the Alps, from by this species. one extremity of the range to the other; Compared with the argali, which, conleaping unscathed from crag to crag, up and sidering its size and the vast extent of its down the fronts of giddy precipices, crossing range, is probably the most important of all foaming torrents and slopes of frozen snow, the wild sheep, our species is, perhaps, a exposed to the wildest storms, yet maintain- little larger, and the horns are more reguing a brave, warm life, and developing from larly curved, and less divergent. The more generation to generation in perfect strength important characteristics are, however, essenand beauty.
tially the same, some of the best naturalists Nearly all the lofty mountain chains of maintaining that the two are only varied the globe are inhabited by wild sheep, which, forms of one species. In accordance with this by the best naturalists, are classified under view, Cuvier conjectures that the argali may five distinct species. These are the argali have been distributed over this continent (Ovis ammon, Linn.), found throughout all from Asia by crossing Behring Straits on ice. the principal ranges of Asia; the burrhal On account of the extreme variability of (Ovis burrhel) of the upper Himalayas; the the sheep under culture, it is generally supCorsican moufflon (Ovis musimon, Pal.); posed that the innumerable domestic breeds the African wild sheep (Ovis tragelephus, have all been derived from the few wild Cuv.); and the American big horn, or species ; but the whole question is involved Rocky Mountain sheep (Ovis montana, in obscurity. According to Darwin, sheep Cuv.) To this last-named species belongs have been domesticated from a very ancient the wild sheep of the Sierra Nevada. Its period, the remains of a small breed, differrange, according to Professor Baird, of the ing from any now known, having been Smithsonian Institution, extends from the found in the famous Swiss lake dwellings. region of the upper Missouri and Yellow- Compared with the best-known domestic stone, to the Rocky Mountains and the high breeds, we find that our wild species is grounds adjacent to them on the eastern more than twice as large; and, instead of slope, and as far south as the Rio Grande. an all-wool garment, the wild wears a thick Westward it extends to the coast ranges of overcoat of hair like that of the deer, and Washington Territory, Oregon, and Cali- an under-covering of fine wool. The hair, fornia, and follows the highlands some though rather coarse, is comfortably soft and distance into Mexico."* Throughout the spongy, and lies smooth, as if carefully vast region bounded on the east and west tended with comb and brush. The preby the Wasatch Mountains and the Sierra, dominant color during most of the year is there are more than a hundred independent brownish-gray, varying to bluish-gray ranges and mountain groups, trending north the autumn; the belly and a large, conand south in close succession, range beyond spicuous patch on the buttocks are white;
and the tail, which is very short, like that Pacific Railroad Survey, Vol. viii., page 678. of a deer, is black, with a yellowish border. VOL. XXII.-I.
(Copyright, 1881, by Scribner & Co. All rights reserved.)
The wool is always white, and grows in
Ram. Ewe. beautiful spirals down out of sight among
ft. in. ft. in.
3 6 3 the straight, shining hair, like delicatě Height at shoulders.
Girth around shoulders..
3 374 climbing vines among stalks of corn.
Length from nose to root of tail. . 5 1014 4 32 The horns of the male are of immense Length of ears.
0 434 0 5 size, measuring in their greater diameter Length of tail.
o 472 0 472 Length of horns around curve.
on from five to six and a half inches, and from
Distance across from tip to tip of two and a half to three feet in length around horns.
2 572 the curve. They are yellowish-white in Circumference of horns at base.
06 color, and ridged transversely, like those of the domestic ram. Their cross-section near The measurements of a male obtained in the base is somewhat triangular in outline, the Rocky Mountains by Audubon vary but and flattened over toward the tip. In rising little as compared with the above.
from the head, they curve gently backward The weight of his specimen was three and outward, then forward and outward, hundred and forty-four pounds,* which is, until about three-fourths of a circle is de- perhaps, about an average for full-grown scribed, and until the flattened, blunt tips males. The females are about a third are about two feet apart. Those of the lighter. female are flattened throughout their entire Besides these differences in size, color, length, less curved than those of the male, clothing, etc., as noted above, we may and much smaller, measuring less than a observe that the domestic sheep, in a genfoot along the curve.
eral way, is expressionless, like a dull bundle A ram and ewe that I obtained near the Modoc lava-beds, to the north-east of
Audubon and Bachman's “Quadrupeds of North Mount Shasta, measured as follows:
of something only half alive, while the wild Their resting-place seems to be chosen is as elegant and graceful as a deer, and with reference to sunshine and a wide outevery movement tells the strength and look, and most of all to safety from the grandeur of his character. The tame is attacks of wolves. Their feeding-grounds timid; the wild is bold. The tame is are among the most beautiful of the wild always more or less ruffled and dirty ; while gardens, bright with daisies, and gentians, the wild is as smooth and clean as the and mats of purple bryanthus, lying hidden flowers of his mountain pastures.
away on rocky headlands and cañon sides, The earliest mention that I have been where sunshine is abundant, or down in able to find of the wild sheep in America is shady glacier valleys, along the banks of by Father Picolo, a Catholic missionary at the streams and lakes, where the plushy sod Monterey, in the year 1797, who, after is greenest. Here they feast all summer, describing it, oddly enough, as "a kind of the happy wanderers, perhaps relishing the deer with a sheep-like head, and about as beauty as well as the taste of the lovely large as a calf one or two years old,” natu- flora on which they feed, however slow rally hurries on to remark: “I have eaten tame men may be to guess their capacity of these beasts; their flesh is very tender beyond grass. and delicious." Mackenzie, in his northern When winter storms set in, loading their travels, heard the species spoken of by the highland pastures with snow, then, like the Indians as “ white buffaloes." And Lewis birds, they gather and go to and Clark tell us that, in a time of great climates, usually descending the eastern scarcity on the head-waters of the Missouri, flank of the range to the rough, volcanic they saw plenty of wild sheep, but they table-lands and treeless ranges of the Great were too shy to be shot."
Basin adjacent to the Sierra. They never A few of the more energetic of the Pah make haste, however, and seem to have no Ute Indians hunt the wild sheep every dread of storms, many of the strongest only season among the more accessible of the going down leisurely to bare, wind-swept California Alps, in the neighborhood of ridges, to feed on bushes and dry bunchpasses, where, from having been pursued, grass, and then returning up into the snow. they have at length become extremely Once I was snow-bound on Mount Shasta wary; but in the rugged wilderness of peaks for three days, a little below the timber-line. and cañons, where the foaming tributaries It was a dark and stormy time, well calcuof the San Joaquin and King's rivers take lated to test the skill and endurance of their rise, they fear no hunter save the wolf, mountaineers. The snow-laden gale drove and are more guileless and approachable on night and day in hissing, blinding floods, than their tame kindred.
and when at length it began to abate, I I have been greatly interested in studying found that a small band of wild sheep had their habits during the last ten years, while weathered the storm in the lee of a clump of engaged in the work of exploring those high dwarf pines a few yards above my storm-nest, regions where they delight to roam. In where the snow was eight or ten feet deep. the months of November and December, I was warm back of a rock, with blankets, and probably during a considerable portion bread, and fire. My brave companions lay of midwinter, they all flock together, male in the snow, without food, and with only the and female, old and young. I once found a partial shelter of the short trees, yet made complete band of this kind numbering upward no sign of suffering or faint-heartedness. of fifty, which, on being alarmed, went bound- In the months of May and June, they ing away across a jagged lava-bed at admi- bring forth their young, in the most solitary rable speed, led by a majestic old ram, with and inaccessible crags, far above the nestingthe lambs safe in the middle of the flock. rocks of the eagle. I have frequently come
In spring and summer, the full-grown upon the beds of the ewes and lambs at an rams form separate bands of from three to elevation of from twelve to thirteen thoutwenty, and are usually found feeding along sand feet above sea-level. These beds are the edges of glacier meadows, or resting simply oval-shaped hollows, pawed out among the castle-like crags of the high among loose, disintegrating rock-chips and summits; and whether quietly feeding, or sand, upon some sunny spot commanding scaling the wild cliffs for pleasure, their a good outlook, and partially sheltered noble forms, and the power and beauty of from the winds that sweep those lofty peaks their movements, never fail to strike the almost without intermission. Such is the beholder with lively admiration.
cradle of the little mountaineer, aloft in the very sky; rocked in storms, curtained in In the fall of 1873 I was tracing the clouds, sleeping in thin, icy air ; but, South Fork of the San Joaquin up its wild wrapped in his hairy coat, and nourished cañon to its farthest glacier fountains. It by a strong, warm mother, defended from was the season of Alpine Indian summer. the talons of the eagle and teeth of the The sun beamed lovingly; the squirrels sly coyote, the bonnie lamb grows apace. were nutting in the pine-trees, butterflies He soon learns to nibble the tufted rock , hovered about the last of the golden-rodis, grasses and leaves of the white spiræa; his willow and maple thickets were yellow, the horns begin to shoot, and before summer is meadows were brown, and the whole sunny, done he is strong and agile, and goes forth mellow landscape glowed like a countewith the flock, watched by the same divine nance with the deepest and sweetest repose. love that tends the more helpless human On my way over the shining, glacier-pollamb in its warm cradle by the fireside. ished rocks along the foaming river, I came
Nothing is more commonly remarked by to an expanded portion of the cañon, about noisy, dusty trail-travelers in the high Sierra two miles long and half a mile wide, inthan the want of animal life—no birds, no closed with picturesque granite walls, like deer, no squirrels. But if such could only those of Yosemite Valley, the river pouring go away quietly into the wilderness, saun- its crystal floods through garden, meadow, tering afoot with natural deliberation, they and grove in many a sun-spangled curve. would soon learn that these mountain man- This hidden Yosemite was full of wild sions are not without inhabitants, many of life. Deer, with their supple, well-grown whom, confiding and gentle, would not try fawns, bounded from thicket to thicket as I to shun their acquaintance.
advanced. Grouse kept rising from the
brown grass with a great whirring of wings, ground on the river-bank, made a cupand, alighting on low branches of pine or ful of tea, and lay down to sleep on a poplar, allowed a near approach, as if smooth place among the yellow leaves of pleased to be observed.
Farther on, a
an aspen grove. Next day I discovered yet' broad-shouldered wild-cat showed himself, grander landscapes and grander life. Folcoming out of a grove, and crossing the lowing the curves of the river, over huge, river on a flood-jamb of logs, halting for a swelling rock-bosses, and past innumerable moment to look back. The bird-like tamias cascades, the scenery in general became frisked about my feet everywhere among gradually more Alpine. The sugar-pine the pine-needles and seedy grass-tufts. and silver-fir gave place to the bardier Cranes waded the shallows of the river- cedar and Williamson spruce. The cañon bends, the kingfisher rattled from perch to walls became more rugged and bare, and perch, and the blessed ouzel sang amid the gentians and Arctic daisies became more spray of every cascade. Where may lonely abundant in the gardens and strips of wanderer find a more beautiful family of meadow along the streams. Toward the mountain-dwellers, earth-born companions, middle of the afternoon I came to another and fellow-mortals? It was afternoon when valley, strikingly wild and original in all its I joined them, and the glorious landscape features, and perhaps never before touched faded in the gloaming before I awoke from by human foot. As regards area of level their enchantment. Then I sought a camp-bottom-land, it is one of the very smallest