National Geographic : 1912 May
Photo by George Shiras, 3rd THE SENTINEL EWE After a long stalk on all fours the author got within 50 feet. Note the extremely long legs of the ewe. The short black horns and white body have led many of the Alaskan miners from the Rocky Mountain States to mistake the ewes of these sheep for white mountain goats (see pages 485 and 486). Cottonwood Creek ran on its short and rapid career to Skilak Lake, 3,000 feet below. It was here that I got my last photo graphs of rock ptarmigan, and as we climbed up on the broken mass of rock, littering the pass between the cliffs of the divide, I put away the lenses and boxed the camera in case of a fall through such insecure footing. Half way through the pass some one noticed seven or eight sheep, almost overhead, lying on a narrow ledge, with a perpen dicular drop of nearly 300 feet below them. To those who have seen large, white gannets, nesting here and there upon the face of a maritime cliff, the re semblance was a striking one. Before I could get the camera out and arranged, the sheep, noticing that we had stopped and were gazing upward, became alarmed, and in a series of awe-inspiring leaps took ledge after ledge until the top was reached, when, getting in line, they all looked over. And that constituted my last but still lingering picture of these graceful creatures, poised on the highest summit above Skilak Lake. Impressed once more with the agility and self-confidence of these nomads of the skies, I asked Tom whether he had ever seen the remains of any indicating that sometimes life paid the forfeit of a careless gambol or in the desperate ef fort to avoid pursuit. He replied that during nearly 16 years in the sheep ranges of Alaska he had never seen a single case of the kind, though several times having found carcasses at the foot of a snow avalanche. And then occurred within a few short hours and at the same spot a tragedy constituting a most remarkable sequel to my inquiry. After returning to the lake and re maining over night, Tom and Charlie started back in the morning for the tent and the remainder of our outfit. In passing through the same divide Tom saw, hanging partly over a ledge and midway between top and bottom, the crumpled body of a large, fine ewe, while running about below was a little lamb, which, whimpering and bleating, continued to look up toward the spot no feet could scale.