Monday, June 26, 2017

The Sheepy Ridge Wildlife Trail

(Or as I could have titled this post: Way Up Here)

When I say birding is an adventure, I mean birding is an Adventure with a capital A. Ready to go on one with me?

Okay, here we go...

Even though we've been to the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Complex a few times before, we've never walked the Sheepy Ridge Wildlife Trail that is directly behind the visitor center. This time we did.

Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges California birding hotspot

Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges California birding hotspot

The brochure describes the trail as "a very steep, 0-3-mile foot trail near the visitor center at Tule Lake Refuge" that "provides a spectacular view of the surrounding area from 150 feet above the basin." (Keep in mind that I didn't read the brochure before we started on the hike and thought a 0.3 mile trail sounded like a walk in the park.)

Looking up at the cliff from the trailhead you can see a little building at the very top on the left...

And there's the moon making an appearance too!

As we were trudging up the trail (hey, what happened to that walk in the park?), my hubby points out the building and says to me "I hope that's not where this trail is taking us." I stopped in my tracks, looked up (my eyes were on my feet because the trail was so steep that I was afraid to lose my footing and fall to my untimely death), and laughed between big panting breaths of air. "There's no way the trail is taking us all the way up there," I replied confidently.

Sure enough, the trail veered left and that's exactly where it was leading us. Meanwhile, I'm thinking to myself that this is some dilapidated old shack and why would anyone build a trail to it.

With my calves on fire and my hubby's fear of heights kicking into full gear, we trekked on. There was no way these birders were going to turn back now!

Did I mention that this trail is on the side of a cliff? Yep, here's looking back at the trail after I hugged my way around the rocks to get by...

*I think it's worth noting that Adventure to us means cruising new-to-us backroads to look for birds and following a sighting tip and going to a town we've never been to to see a South American bird that went waaay off course and somehow ended up in Northern California. (Read more about that particular adventure here.)

Okay, back to Sheepy Ridge. By this point, my calves are on fire and I can't believe I'm clinging to the side of a cliff. What's that up ahead? Oh, it's the shack we'd joked about!

We've reached our destination and now we've got one heck of a story to talk about for the next twenty years or so.

They weren't kidding when they said this trail has a spectacular view!

There's the parking lot for the Discovery Marsh Trail there at the bottom... 

And here's the view to the right. In the distance you can see the water of the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge...

Yay! I made it to the top!

Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges California birding hotspot

Sometimes--okay most of the time, it pays off to keep climbing that hill even when you're not sure what lies at the top. Because it might just be a stunning view that leaves you breathless--not because you just climbed 150 feet up a cliff, but because it's so incredibly beautiful.

Driving away from the refuge, laughing about how we couldn't believe what we'd just done, I looked back at the cliff and had to have hubby stop the car so I could take a picture so you could see just how freaking high up it is.

Until we meet again, Sheepy Ridge. Until we meet again. (Oh yeah, I'm definitely climbing that mountain again next time!)

To read more about my visits to the Klamath NWR, visit my birding blog Wings and Daydreams!

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