Backpacking: On the Quest for Bighorn Sheep - Trip 2

A guided Yosemite backpacking trip in the backcountry brings visitors inside the rugged alpine habitat of endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep.
August 28, 2016 to August 31, 2016

Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep are making a comeback from the brink of extinction! Join a unique Yosemite backpacking trip to explore their stomping grounds in Mount Gibbs. Once completely absent from Yosemite, these endangered animals have been reintroduced into the park in small herds, first in the 1980s, and most recently in March 2015. Discover the bighorn’s remarkable story and rugged habitat on this one-of-a-kind backpacking adventure. 

Meet naturalist guide Pete Devine on Sunday evening at Tuolumne Meadows to discuss safety and Leave No Trace principles. On Monday, hike to your weekend base camp just over Mono Pass, an near a series of small lakes surrounded by high peaks. On Tuesday, take an off-trail day hike through the sheep’s rocky home on the slope of Mt. Gibbs and learn about bighorn conservation with Yosemite biologist Les Chow. Descend on Wednesday with a deep understanding of the agile animal mountaineers reclaiming their place in Yosemite’s wilderness.

Learn more about how our donors have helped bring bighorns back to Yosemite.

The Experience Package includes camping at Tuolumne Meadows (August 28 and August 31, not required to participate), and park entry (as needed). View a suggested backpacking packing list.

Hiking: Moderate-Strenuous, set up base camp near Mono Pass at 10,599 ft elevation and 3.5 miles. Hike about 3 miles, with some scrambling required
Elevation: 9,700 (Mono Pass Trailhead) – around 12,000 ft on Mt. Gibbs
Experience Package: $279
Naturalist Guide: Pete Devine & Les Chow
Pete Devine, Yosemite Conservancy expert guide

Pete Devine

Pete Devine has taught outdoors in Yosemite for 30 years and is the now the Yosemite Conservancy’s Resident Naturalist. Originally from New England, Pete has worked in the West as a park ranger, archeologist, river guide, naturalist and teacher. He has hiked the Alps, Andes, Himalaya, Min Shan and Southern Alps, and has a bird list that includes motmots, minivets, drongos and the plain-mantled tit spinetail. Pete has been studying the recession of Yosemite’s Lyell Glacier for twenty years, and he serves as a Yosemite Expert for National Geographic Expeditions. 

Watch Pete in action in Episode 9 of Yosemite Nature Notes, "Frazil Ice".

Les Chow, Yosemite Conservancy Guide

Les Chow

Les Chow came to Yosemite in 1986 to study the newly reintroduced Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep in Lee Vining Canyon. Working with Peggy Moore, he documented the births, deaths, movements, and habitat use by the relocated herd. Using data from the project for their theses, Les and Peggy earned MS degrees in 1991 from the UC Berkeley. Prior to his arrival in Yosemite, Les worked in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks studying black bears, and in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park studying feral pigs. Les worked as a research biologist in Yosemite for nearly 25 years studying forest carnivores and mountain lions and coordinating research on bats, bees and small mammals. He retired in 2016 after 8 years as the network Data Manager for the NPS Inventory and Monitoring program.