I hiked happily along the trail. While an occasional grizzly bear might wander through this area, they weren't permanent residents. This was one of the reasons I picked this place to backpack. One less thing to worry about, I thought. Then I came upon this sign:
Mountain goat safety? Sure, I had heard of the rare aggressive goat that didn't want to share its space, or was protecting its baby. But surely that was an anomaly. Plus, I love mountain goats. They're my favorite wild animal. How bad could it be?
I set up my camp and headed up the trail toward a series of lakes. A flustered man soon appeared. "Those goats were chasing us!" he claimed. "We had to detour off the trail."
I could have turned around, but I wanted to see the high lakes. As I turned the corner, a goat peered at me from a rock. It didn't look happy.
"It's ok, goats!" I yelled, ready to flee or pull out my bear spray. The goat looked disgruntled, but disappeared into the brush. I continued on.
There were no other hikers as I passed two lakes and climbed up to the high point on the state line. I headed for a snow patch, but noticed it was occupied. A goat and baby were hanging out there. Giving them a wide berth, I walked over to a viewpoint.
Mama wasn't having it, however. She started walking toward me with a purpose. I backed away, but she kept following me. I wasn't really scared, but I beat feet down the hill until she couldn't see me anymore.
"Coming through, goats, " I yelled as I passed the rock where I had encountered the first one. I felt kind of ridiculous, but then looked up to see one eyeing me from a nearby rock.
In the end, I wasn't really in danger. They just wanted their space. And after spending a couple of days in their territory, I could see why they wanted to keep it for themselves. I would, too.