Licked By A Mountain Goat
A mountain goat isn't very afraid of people, I had heard. But I was still surprised when I saw one walking in front of me on the rocks. I was 12,500 feet up on Mount Shavano (in Colorado), and he was...
A mountain goat isn't very afraid of people, I had heard. But I was still surprised when I saw one walking in front of me on the rocks. I was 12,500 feet up on Mount Shavano (in Colorado), and he was less than 40 feet away from me. He watched me, I watched him, and I had the feeling I could just about walk right up to him and touch him. More hikers came up the trail however, and made him nervous. We all took our photos and moved on.
There had been a lot of wildlife. Squirrels chirped at me in the woods, and a snowshoe hare ran by, half of his feet still white with his winter camouflage. Just above the trees, the pika scrambled over the rocks, and large birds watched them from above, trying to find an easy lunch.
Two hours later, most of us hikers were at the top, at 14,229 feet. At least eight people lounged around the summit, using cell phones to tell distant friends where they were, and snapping digital photos of a fat marmot showing off and begging for food. After a brief visit, I climbed through the boulders and traveled on to Mount Tabeguache (14155 feet), a mile away from Shavano.
I was alone at the summit. I took off my shoes and socks and put my feet over the edge, enjoying the sun, and then the snow flurries, and then the sun, and then the snow flurries. Weather changes quickly in the mountains in June. I shared a quick meal of crackers and peanuts with the local chipmunks, then started back down the mountain.
My Mountain Goat
The others were gone - it's always a good idea to get off the tops of these mountains before afternoon comes. The killer lightning usually starts hitting the peaks by one o'clock. Back down around 12,500 feet, the goat was waiting for me. I sat on a rock and watched him.
Maybe he thought I was related, since I was browsing on the wild plants like he was. I always do this. There wasn't much in the way of edible plants (it was early in the season), but I had stopped to peel and eat a couple thistle stalks earlier. Perhaps he saw this and figured I must be a mountain goat like him.
He seemed not just unafraid, but ready to walk right up to me, so I took out my camera and invited him closer. It occurred to me that if I held the camera in one hand I could hold out my other hand and take a photo of him licking my fingers. He was okay with that, and walked right up to lick my hand while I took the photo.
Shaking his hoof, he decided, was just too much. Maybe he didn't want to lose his footing on the rocks. I said goodbye and headed down the trail, and he went back to grazing.
When I show the photo to friends, I tell them he probably licked my hand for the salt. But I like to think that he really was just saying hello, because he saw me grazing up there like another mountain goat. I wonder if he'll remember me this summer?
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Copyright Steve Gillman. To see the photo of the mountain goat, and to get the ebook "Ultralight Backpacking Secrets (And Wilderness Survival Tips)" for FREE, visit: http://www.The-Ultralight-Site.com/mountain-goat.html