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One additional word on old goats

One additional word on old goats


Richard Olmer

I, too, had a goat encounter on the Switchback Trail or a little farther along toward the junction with the Mount Angeles Trail than Bob Boardman's.

Sadly in Bob's case, both he and the goat ended up dead.

Except for dumb luck, I could have ended up dead and the old goat could have been shot and Bob still would be alive. The situations were quite similar, as was the time of the year. I, too, was with friends and for some reason the goat ignored them and focused on me. The goat allowed Roger and Pam to pass him but he had a clear issue with me getting around him. Never before had we had any tense encounters with the goats - in fact, the reason we often took this trail was to see the goats.

One spring we ate lunch with a whole herd of goats a little farther along the trail; there was still some snow on the ground then.

On this day, I tried to go around this goat but he always got in front of me. He'd paw the ground and take a few half-hearted lunges at me. Quite honestly I was more concerned with getting smacked by one of his feet than being poked by his horns. The goat's feet were huge. I eventually climbed above this guy and he followed me up the trail to the meeting with the Mount Angeles trail. I kept one eye on him and one eye on the trail ahead. It was a long, slow walk.

I had a walking stick and I had a whistle tied to my pack; I never thought of using either of these. Instead, I kept trying to keep ahead of him and to keep an eye on him, which was difficult when he was behind me. In retrospect, the goat easily could have hit me from behind with his horns. I never really thought much about being a threat to him or him attacking me. I viewed his feeble lunges as some type of goat posturing. If he'd been a little more aggressive, I would have been frightened; he did get my attention.

It's really sad to me that a fellow hiker and an old goat had to die to get the message across to me that, like bears and cougars, goats can be dangerous.

I remember one morning in Glacier National Park waking up - after sleeping on the ground in a small tent - surrounded by a herd of mountain goats. They very carefully walked around us eating stuff and not stepping on us and I was a little unnerved but not really afraid. I just was amazed at my good luck to have them visit me. And, as I said, the goats are why my friends and I often choose to take the Switchback Trail.

I sure hope this doesn't cause another clamor to get the goats out of the park. True, they may not be native here, but they sure do seem to like it here. And, yes they eat pretty little blue flowers that are native here and are rare. But then there's me. I'm not native here either. And, I sure do love this place.

And, after all, isn't one of the aims of the national parks (however unofficial) to bring humans and animals into closer proximity ... so we can see them and enjoy the wonder of these creatures? Perhaps not, but this is certainly one of the reasons that I come back here time and time again ... to see deer, bears, marmots, elk, eagles, ravens, coyotes; to see wildflowers, trees, rocks and rivers; and to taste and feel and smell the air.

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