Bighorn Sheep at Asotin Creek.
Bighorn Sheep at Asotin Creek.

It’s funny that only two weeks ago, I was clearing snow from my driveway, and now there’s hardly any sign of winter left on the Palouse. Instead of snow, it rained for nearly a week straight. So when we caught a break in the weather on Saturday, I was quite happy to take advantage and begin my spring hiking season. I chose to go to Asotin Creek.

The town of Asotin is located five miles south of Clarkston, Washington. It is here that Asotin Creek empties its water into the Snake River. But the hiking begins about 20 miles upstream deep in a 1500 foot canyon. Summers are hot and dry. In the spring, the hill sides are green. In the fall, the deciduous vegetation adds a splash of color to the dry landscape. In winter, the area is closed off to motorized vehicles to protect the wintering herds of elk and other large game. It takes just over an hour to reach the trailhead from Moscow, making it a great destination for a day trip.

Asotin Creek is a special place for me. It was the fist hike I ever did in this area, and that was before I even moved out here. I come to Asotin Creek to hike a few times a year, but really I should come more often. On this trip, I hiked in about 5 miles, farther than I have made it in previous trips. As you get farther back into the canyon, the forests begin to take over the bottom. By the time you reach the Blue Mountains, there are trees up both sides of the canyon. But I’m afraid I can’t quite make it that far in one day, at least not without a shuttle waiting for me at the other end. But I am tempted to bring my backpack and spend a night or two along the creek. I always forget that it’s a place to get away without having to travel too far from home.

I’ve always heard stories of the bighorn sheep that reside in the canyon. One of my Flickr contacts sees them every time. I never had such luck until this last trip. I had been looking for them on the entire hike in, and finally, on the way out, I spotted about 6 of them on the opposite wall of the canyon. The photo above is as good of a shot as I could make with a 105mm lens.

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