A Story by Zeek4

A moment of wonder in the great outdoors.


It was a clear, warm morning in the Anza Borrego Desert. Usually content to stay curled up in bed, this particular morning I had a plan. The Anza Borrego is a unique and historical place. On his way to discovering a land route to San Francisco, Juan Bautista de Anza passed through the arid wastes of the Anza Borrego Desert around 1774. Legend has it that the first white child born in California was on the Anza expedition, and was born in Coyote Canyon, close to where I was to explore.


Another distinctive thing about Anza Borrego, it’s home to the Coastal Big Horned Sheep, a rarely sighted animal that lives in the rough, boulder strewn mountains over looking the vast expanse of desert. The town of Borrego Springs is very small, no stop lights, one grocery store. People have lived there for an entire lifetime and have never spotted a big horned sheep. They are very illusive, and only come out of the mountains during the extreme heat of the summer looking for water.


My plan was to hike up Palm Canyon in the predawn hours before the heat began to skyrocket. I knew that at the far reaches of the canyon there were springs that would be the most likely place to spot a big horn, if I was extremely lucky. The trail is rock and boulder covered, and winds in an ever-changing serpentine pattern up the narrowing canyon. It was a beautiful clear day, and as quiet as a butterfly's whisper. As time progressed the canyon would morph into a living hell of extreme heat and scorching sun. The unprepared could easily die in the canyon during the summer months, and many have.


As I wound my way up, it was imperative that I stay as quiet as possible. The sheep are extremely attentive and skittish, and will bolt at the slightest noise. In the distance I could see splotches of green that were the palms attempting to extract every particle of moisture they could suck out of the bed rock. As I got closer the palms became more distinct, and I was beginning to get excited. If I was ever to see a big horns now was the time. All the variables were in their proper context. I had the entire expanse of Palm Canyon to myself, and the only person to foul things up was myself.


Before actually getting into the grove of palms, I needed to pass under several boulders that formed a tunnel where they had fallen and pressed against one another. I peeked around the last obstruction, and low and behold there were sheep!  A bolt of excitement surged through my body, and I shook with nervous energy. I just couldn’t believe my good fortune. Not only was I seeing the sheep, they were close, very close. I could hear them snorting and stomping their feet. They must have sensed that something foreign was near, and began to fidget more and more. Finally, they exploded into a mass of moving flesh, and their hard hoofs danced on the rock playing a melody of confusion.


Soon the grove was empty other than a few chirping birds and the buzz of bees. In the center of the grove was a small pond, the only life-giving miracle for miles around. This was the center of the desert universe, and I was blessed to be a part of it. I crouched under a giant boulder at the water's edge waiting to see what would happen next. The boulder must have been about ten feet high, and it bulged out far enough for me to be fairly well hidden under it.

After a few minutes had passed I could hear the nervous tapping of hoofs above my head. Directly above me, a top the boulder, was a massive male big horn surveying to see if it was safe to return to the pond. I craned my neck cautiously as not to frighten him. I could see the curvature of his massive horns, and then I spotted the miracle that has stuck in my mind ever since. For some reason, I’m not really certain why, I saw something that was so beautiful and magical to me that I get teary eyed just thinking about it. I’m looking up at the underside of the sheep and can see his head silhouetted against a dawn sky. On his bottom lip there is a drop of precious water, and through that water the first rays of the morning light are penetrating, leaving a rainbow of color on the animals chest.


I felt so honored to be in such close proximity to a truly wild animal, and then to have the small display of nature’s beauty shown before my eyes made me giddy with joy. A year of church attendance would not bring me closer to god then that one-second of revelation. Slowly I crept from underneath the boulder, and little by little walked from the grove leaving the big horns to their precious water. As I continued down the canyon the full force of the summer sun beat down on me, and I felt very content and happy to be alive.

© 2016 Zeek4

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This is beautiful! Now that's communing with nature and a higher power! Beautiful write!

Posted 9 Years Ago

Thank you. It was as real as you could possibly make it. I have been within touching distance of several wild animals. The walrus was the scariest but the sea lion and the mountain lion came a close second. Seeing St Elmo's fire play all over our plane was unforgettable. Glad you liked it

Posted 9 Years Ago

A lovely story! Very informative and beautifully told, with a lovely subject matter! Just beautiful :)

Posted 10 Years Ago

BRILLIANT! Loved every single word of this, no dialogue in sight but not complaining one little bit. There's something in the writing here that comes straight from the heart; you've seen it all again, rolling across your mind like a glorious painting. You've written/typed the entire experience from start to finish as uf you were back there within that absolute contenment, cerebral, spiritual, whatever ..

Thank you for sharing this memory, it's truly beautiful.

Posted 10 Years Ago

Beautiful story My grandfather had two of these sheep and they banged heads one spring till one broke the others neck Later I was out by Mt Rushmore and saw two of them there wild and free as they should be.

Posted 10 Years Ago

Z, I have no idea why you don't have your own nature show. Like Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom or the wimpy little Survivor Man.... These stories are pure gold and you bring them to us without cover charge.

I could feel the excitement you felt, I could even smell the heather chewing beasts. A sheep almost jumped on the hood of my truck one summer, can't say it was as majestic as your encounter though. My region not as exotic as the places you hang out at.

Treasure, pure treasure Z.

Posted 10 Years Ago

Keep it simple is always the advice from the masters. You do thst so well without losing an ounce of description. Less is more. Well done. Wish I had been there.

Posted 10 Years Ago

This was a very fascinating writing. I hung on every word until the end. It is nice to see so many different things in the world. You described your experience perfectly.

Posted 10 Years Ago

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8 Reviews
Added on June 2, 2011
Last Updated on June 15, 2016



San Diego, CA


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