Unexpected adventures — on the trail and in life

After my big 7-mile trail run last week I decided to be good to myself and do a genuine taper before next week’s Great Alaskan Marathon Cruise. I did an easy 6 miles three days later, followed two days after that by a brisk 4 miles (during which I accidentally logged my fastest unofficial 5k ever). I then pronounced myself ready to run.

This, of course, freed up my schedule for another epic hike! It’s the peak of our short summer hiking season here in the Pacific Northwest. The snow is finally retreating and the riot of wildflowers is in its full glory. My hiking friend and I planned to do a 6-mile hike along a ridgetop at an elevation of approximately 5,200 feet. We took our time, stopping to photograph one glorious meadow after another. I could share dozens of photos, but I was especially pleased with this composition of tiger lilies and lupines:

The trail meandered through the meadows and then into a grove of sub-alpine firs. The scenery was sublime, idyllic.

As I came around a corner, I found myself 10 yards from and face to face with this!

 The fact that she was tagged and collared gave me no great comfort, especially when I saw the rest of the family approaching behind her. There were nine mountain goats in all, including three kids and their mothers, a couple of rowdy adolescents, and a very large ram. Look at the sharp horns and big hooves on these guys!

They do look all soft and cuddly, and in fact they aren’t generally dangerous. As far as I know, there has only been one fatal goring of a human by a mountain goat — but it happened right here in Olympic National Park a couple of years ago. So when my friend and I found ourselves staring straight into the eyes of mama goat, there was no hesitation on our part. We turned right around and began walking briskly back down the trail the way we had come.

They followed us. All the way back along the trail, for more than two miles they followed us.

They were ambling slowly and stopping to eat the avalanche lilies, but they more or less kept pace with us. I had been a little concerned about a section of trail requiring a steep uphill scramble (it had been very spooky coming down that ridge face on our outbound hike), but I was amazed how quickly we climbed it with nine mountain goats behind us! When we got all the way back to the parking lot, we could still see them silhouetted on the last ridgetop. People were coming out of the visitor’s center to see this rather unusual close approach of the goats.

I never felt directly threatened, as there was no aggressive behavior on their part. They were simply a family out for an afternoon wander through the meadows, just like my friend and I and other hikers. But they were in their home environment — we were the intruders — and it certainly made sense to be cautious!

You just never know what you might see out there on the trail. I’m really hoping for bears and maybe some near-shore whales next week in Alaska. I hope these “races” turn out to be one grand photo opportunity after another.

Just as I am finding unexpected adventures on the trail, I’m also finding unexpected adventures in my life. My “hiking friend” is becoming a bit more than a friend, and I’m very happy about that. I’ll tell you more in due time, but for now I’ll just say that life is indeed going on, and life is good.

I think Kurt would be glad to know that.

One step at a time…

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Posted on July 27, 2012, in Hiking, LIfe_goes_on, Nature, Place, Wildlife and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Life sounds good for you!! Happy for you!

  2. Carlene and Bob

    Life is good, Lori! Enjoy it, my friend!! We’re sooo happy for both you and your hiking friend. Have a blast on the cruise as we’re looking forward to hearing about it and seeing the pictures. We love it up there!!!

  3. Enjoy your cruise and your marathon…and the one day at a time changes in your life! Hugs, Geri

  4. Great pictures and update.

  5. Love your update. Love hearing you happy. Fun / wild encounter with goats… glad they were calm and just wanted to stroll with you. We saw a bunch of them and their babies while in Yellowstone a month or so ago, but that was from the safety of our car right next to them on the hill. The bison got a bit closer, but we wisely stayed back and let them pass.

    Can’t wait to hear all about the cruise. Enjoy!!!

  6. Great to read that you are doing so well. You will love Alaska. I think it is the most beautiful place I have ever visited. We missed you at the pier this afternoon, but I know you are having much more fun soaking up the scenery in Alaska!

  7. I ♥♥♥ the goats! They are beautiful!!! Lots of wonderful pictures! 🙂

  8. Thanks everybody for your comments and good wishes! I’m just back from Alaska, which was amazing and wonderful. It will take me a while to sift through the hundreds of photos, but I’ll try to write something about the cruise very soon.

  9. I am looking forward to your photos! I’m sure it’s going to take a little time to organize and share! I’ll be it was really special! 🙂 Debra

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