Life behind the Scenes-Frank Church River of No Return.
If you have pre-ordered my newest book BUMMER and the Nanny Goat, you will be receiving the tri-fold brochure Real Life of BUMMER our Pet Bighorn Sheep. In this brochure you will learn that:
In the spring of 1966, my husband Jim and I moved to Challis, Idaho with our four children, because Jim took a job as a Bighorn Sheep Biologist with the Idaho Fish & Game. Jay P was ten years old, Sheri was eight, Kendon was six, Kelly was five. Because I was a teacher with the summers off, we had the opportunity to spend time in both the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness and the Morgan Creek Drainage. We would camp out and observe the small herd of Bighorn Sheep.
This is one of the adventures that happen during that time in Challis.
Jim had received word that a small herd of rams had been spotted just inside the boundary of the Primitive area. That is the name we called it back then. It was renamed in honor of Senator Frank Church. According to an article by the US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service in a User’s Guide to Frank Church - River of No Return Wilderness:
President Reagan signed the legislation in March 1984. In a statement released shortly after, Frank Church said, “In signing the act adding my name to the River of No Return Wilderness, President Reagan does me and my family a great honor. Honored, as I am, the real meaning for me today is to reaffirm our magnificent heritage in preserving some 2.2 million acres of Idaho wilderness for ourselves, and our children, and our children’s children. For this I am eternally grateful.... For the countless thousands who will enter and enjoy the River of No Return Wilderness, it will open their eyes like an Idaho sunrise on a summer morning.”
Part of Jim’s job was to keep track of bighorn sheep herds within the Morgan Creek Drainage and the Primitive area.
As Jim was getting ready, he called out, “Hey, since this band of sheep are just barely inside of the primitive area, why don’t you and the kids come along. We could take some hot dogs and marshmallows and after I have found and observed the sheep, we can build a fire and have a wiener roast.”
The kids started whooping and hollering so I said, “Well, from the sounds of it, I guess we better go.” We packed our lunch, jumped in the Fish and Game Truck and drove up Morgan Creek Drainage Road to the end of civilization and started our hike.
It was a beautiful summer day with a cool breeze moving through the trees. The forest was silent with occasional small sounds of little animals making their way through the leaves and grasses on the forest floor. Occasionally we would see birds flying through the sky above us. We sauntered slowly up the trail, partly because our younger was only five, and also so we could do some educating and observing as we walked along.
We came upon a small creek flowing over the trail. It was very cold and clear and must have been coming off a snow pack higher up in the mountains. We could see animal tracks along the edge of the creek where animals had been there to drink.
Look here, Jim said as he pointed to some tracks, “These are probably deer tracks.
And look over here, these are about the same type but bigger. Do you think they could be elk tracks? “
“Look over here, this is a very different track. They are more round.” Jim continued, as he pointed to the ground. “What kind of animal could have made this one?”
Jay P. excitedly yelled out, “I bet it was a cougar”?
Further up the creek we found an spot that was heavily trampled. Jim said, “These tracks could be made by our band of bighorn sheep that we are looking for.”
Jim took out his binoculars to look ahead, Of course, our children all had to have a look through the field glasses. We couldn’t see any sheep yet but proceeded slowly and quietly so if they were near we wouldn’t scare them away.
As we slowly went on up the trail, we started to hear low subtle sounds; a rustling, a snort, a low clank that could only have
been made from a horn hitting an object. This must mean the sheep were grazing nearby. Bighorn sheep have keen eye sight and sharp hearing. Jim decided we had better hunker down and try to find them in the binoculars so we could observe them.
We knew this was a ‘bachelor club’ which means only rams and no ewes or lambs. That time of year the rams are foraging in a herd by themselves. The ewes and lambs are in protective lambing areas. Later in the summer and early fall, when the lambs are older, they all come together and form a larger herd.
Jim searched the area with his binoculars. He would quietly move ahead and look carefully through the glasses. Our children had learned long ago, that when their dad was working with animals, they should remain still and quiet.
After searching for awhile he finally found the band of Bachelor Rams, counted them and made sure they all seemed in good health. The job was done. Moving quietly back down the trail, we found a good spot for a fire. We were very hungry and ready for lunch.
Jim cleared the area of any material that would burn and built a fire pit with rocks. The children ran around gathering wood for the fire. I proceeded to unpack our lunch items. I laid them all out on a big rock that was serving as a table. Looking back into the back pack and then up at Jim and said, “ I can’t find any matches. Did you bring some matches?”
We searched through pockets, clothing, backpack, everything. There were no matches to be found. My little starving family declared, “We don’t want cold hot dogs.” So wearily, we packed everything up, hiked back to the Fish and Game Truck, and drove back down the road. Hungry and grumpy, with our stomachs loudly growling.
We finally arrived back at our house and built a fire, in our fire pit, in our own back yard. As we were eating our hot dogs, we decided this was the best wiener roast we had ever had.
For more background information, here are some books about bighorn.
BUMMER, Our Pet Bighorn Sheep, by Jylene Morgan, illustrated by Dwight Nacaytuna Is my first book about raising our pet baby bighorn sheep.
BUMMER, And The Nanny Goat, by Jylene Morgan, illustrated by Mathew Mew, My newest book, will be published June 1, 2021, don’t forget to preorder at www.jylenemorgan.com
Trails Above The Tree Line by Audrey Fraggalosch, illustrated by Higgins Bond- You can find out more about the Rocky Mountain Meadows “through the eyes of a bighorn sheep. “
Bighorn Sheep by Melissa Gish - This book is full of beautiful photos and great information.
Getting to Know Nature’s. Children Bighorn Sheep by Bill Ivy, This an easy to read book for young readers. The table of content inside is a “Have you ever Wondered…” , full of interesting question you might have wonder about.
Notes about me:
Jylene Morgan is a retired educator. She is passionate about the importance of reading aloud to children from top quality children’s books. Writing about her life experiences she captivates her audience by telling the tales of her family’s adventures. The first several books are written about funny exchanges that occur when human and wild animal’s lives come together.
To read more about me, my passion for reading aloud to children and my books go to www.jylenemorgan.com. Make sure you join our mailing list so you receive Jylene's "Most Treasured Books List". So you can also be the first to know when Jylene's next book, BUMMER and the Nanny Goat, is available.