By this trip we had a digital camera. Look carefully at the “cliff face” pictures (5 & 6) and you will see the mountain goats. We were a mile and about 400 feet elevation below them.
Not wanting to hike alone this year we invited friends from the packgoat community to come and hike with us. This added Ed and Vicky from Washington, and Perry and Josh from Utah. Our friend Josh said he didn’t want a goat for his equipment. He wanted to see if he could carry his own light weight equipment for 14 days without assistance because he was field testing for his family company Titanium Goat, but he wanted the company of other people. Then just two days before we left our daughter Crystal asked to join on her vacation from the navy.
Already packed for five we had enough food for one more, but with no extra goats available, no room for her gear, so her backpack was full at the start of the trip. By this trip Clay and Charlotte were using hammocks instead of tents, and the goats had learned to bed-down underneath the two of them so they were not tied up at night
So on the 5th of August, with four backpacks—two full, two knapsacks and one Camelback, seven people and eight loaded goats set out for what was meant to be a 10 day trek. The days were warm and sunny the night chilly. However, by the 11th it was clear that this would be Charlotte’s last trip until her knees were repaired surgically as every day the hiking became more painful; but there was little choice but to keep going. Besides, we were on the downhill side anyway.
The 12th, the storm started. Intermittent, but going from sun to rain to hail and back again. The 13th was warm enough but very overcast with drizzle off and on all day. Two miles short of that night’s campsite it was clear that the next day would be worse and the decision was made to push on to the end. So what would have been an eight mile day; became a fifteen mile day. The hot drinks and hamburgers at Spirit Lake Lodge made it well worth the effort. And the warm showers and beds at the Zimmerman home made it even better
The owners of the Spirit Lake Lodge who knew us well by this our 8th year of walking the Highline, called us the 14th, the day we would have been coming out, and said the storm had set in, laid down 6 inches of snow, and was projected to stay for a few days before clearing. Yes, that made us even happier we had continued out a day early.