By: Polly Connable
HAYFORD PEAK, DESERT GAME REFUGE, SHEEP RANGE, NEVADA
On a game refuge you'd hope to see some of the game - and we did - a flock of wild ewes and lambs grazed before us. slumbered, scrambled to higher ledges, munched on shrubbery, and finally filed leisurely out of sight.
These were the Nelson Big Horns. Their refuge is squeezed between two gunnery ranges. Each year a hunt is permitted to control the size of the herds. The rams that are shot have to be brought to the biologist to observe for skin blisters or other damage caused by atomic radiation.
Harry and Siina Melts, a year ago, decided the Sheep Range would be worth exploring. They wrote to the corn Creek Fish and Wildlife Headquarters for information on roads. The response was that a 4-wheel drive truck would lead us in to Hidden Forest where is a camp-ground and cabin. From this point we could climb Hayford Peak, the highest in the range.
Back desert roads this year, to say the least, can hardly be called such. With no road crews to restore them to condition, you have to pick your way. Our caravan of 4 2-wheel drive cars picked as long as it could, then voted to give up trying to drive the rest of the distance to Hidden Forest.
Our Wildlife Game Refuge official, who had never heard of the Sierra Club, was rather pleased to find we didn't mind camping without modern facilities and were in love with the wild scenery of his refuge. Wishing us a successful climb, he left in his truck to return to his chores at Corn Creek.
Those of us who'd anticipated a warm clear night on the desert under a full moon were more than surprised when dark clouds blew over and gusts of wind battered us without let-up.
Sunday was a day hot in the sun, but without it we shivered. Our group of ten hiked to the Hidden Forest camp-site. Here we left one member and proceeded by compass and pencil-sketch map to find a route to Hayford Peak. By going about two ridges farther than necessary, we reached the top in 2-1/2 hours. Boy Scouts were the last to have signed the register, 5 years ago.
Our youngest hiker, 5-year old Katherine Lejeune from Quebec, who speaks both English and French, seemed the least tired when we got back to Hidden Forest.
We recommend that a better route than ours might be passing beyond the outhouse for 1/5 mile and turning left by the yellow marker, then following this wash until it terminates at the base of Hayford.
A stop-over at the Corn Creek Headquarters to picnic or rest is worth-while. There are Big Horn Sheep in an enclosure there, too.
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