(Hiking from a goat's point of view)
2002, Highline Trail, Uinta Wilderness, Mirror Lake to Spirit Lake (95 miles)
I was born in Walla Walla, Washington April 14, 2002. I was purchased by the Zimmerman's who picked me up at the Pack Goat Rendezvous in Montana and moved me to Tooele, Utah July 28, 2002. I was just over three month's old. I loved it, I lived in the back yard and a "two leg" was with me almost constantly for the first week. Little did I know why they were so loving and "bonding" with me. One week to the day after they brought home, they took me and all the other goats - who bullied me terribly - into the the Uinta Primitive Area of Eastern Utah. But I thought Crystal (the almost 17 year old daughter) was my second mother, so I was happy, as long as I could be beside her. She protected me from the big boys when I was in the pasture. She even protected me from Crater who at 2 1/2 was not a "big" boy yet.
The first day was magic. So much to see, so much to taste. Everyone was excited, bouncing all over the trail, off the trail. It was just Crystal, Charlotte (Mom) and the twelve of us "four leg" goats on the trail that first day. We didn't go far, 3 miles tops, and made early camp. Us goats played and ate as camp was set up. Good camp for girls, they are real pros at it. Clay (Dad) joined us after parking the trailer at the end of the trail and getting ride back to the start, and the rest of the goats were highlined for night. I got to sleep just a few feet from Crystal, Mom and Dad, in the atrium of the tent - under the rain fly but outside the tent. It did take me a bit to learn that I had to stay there and not in the tent. And I found that they had remembered to bring my grain, life was great. My people, my "brothers" -who didn't seem as inclined to bully me out here-, and my grain. I was a goat in my element.
The second day we settled into what would be the routine for the next nine days. Breakfast for both parts of the herd - morning grain for me. People ate in camp and we got to forage the nearby area for about an hour. Then the trail. Nice steady pace, lots of 15 minute stops, and more trail. We all ate as we went, grabbing food when hungry. I learned that rest time was for resting. The older, trail-wise goats just stopped, settling right down and relaxing as soon as the people stopped walking. I didn't rest, but I wasn't carrying a load, and there was so much to taste. Seven hours later we'd make camp, goats eat until dark while people cooked, eat, and cleaned up, then we were called back into camp just before dark to be highlined for the night. And I got my night time grain.
Up and down. Trees to rock and back again. The Highline trail has seven passes to go up and over, and much of it is skirting the timberline. At the passes you can see forever. In the bottom you can't see 50 yards. For being in the high mountains in August we did not get one rain storm the whole time. The older goats liked it better than in 1998 when they got rained on every day. I was glad that the trail had been cleared though. I'm not sure I would have liked bushwhacking; I am a very young goat after all. But it was weird walking through a mile or more of windfall trees. The older goats saw the tangled mess and had to go around it within weeks of it falling. This time we got to walk though it. And there was plenty of new growth in there. I know, I tasted most of it near the trail.
Little lakes dot the area and streamlets cut across the trail often, but 2002 was another year of drought in a chain of years of drought, but there were still times we had to cross water. I didn't like it. But I didn't like being left behind either. Star B (we inherited him and already had a Star) really didn't like water, and would go out of his way and do silly things to avoid it. He misjumped one stream, fell, got everything wet and tore his knee open. But after being bandaged in bright yellow wrap he did just fine for the rest of the trip. I only balked once, when the stream was deeper than I was tall. But even then, I found a way to cross all by myself when it became obvious to me I was not getting help from the two legs.
I learned a lot on the trip. Good training for when I'll be one of the "big boys" and carry my own weight. I was glad to see the truck and get to go back to the pasture, but I can't wait to get into the mountains again. For now I'm growing, and learning. Life is good when you have a purpose and a herd. And finding moose, elk, deer and cows isn't bad either. Can't wait until I'm one of the packers.
Note 2005: In late 2005 I got my very own saddle. There was no training, they put the saddle on, I just stood still looking at it, so they put the packs on, full ones at that. I looked at the pack, I looked my two legs, I looked at my brothers, and head high, I strutted past them. I was officially a "big boy" and a working goat.
Note 2006-2013: I was one of the most requested goats during these years and I worked very hard.
Note 2013: I slowed down in 2013, couldn't keep up with the younger goats on the long hikes. Crystal "My MOM" was long gone from the "herd". But she now had a home of her own with land, and a pasture area with lots of weeds, and a little boy to play with. I was removed from the pack herd with my brother Glacier and moved to live with MOM again. I was a happy goat.
Note 2014: Crystal found me one late fall day out in my earthy pasture when I didn't come in to eat hay. I have passed on to permanently green pastures and bright sunshine in heaven (or wherever loved animals go).