Recently, a neighbor told me some interesting news: people have seen signs that a mountain goat has visited our ridge.
The ridge is a fairly gentlly sloping toe of Mount Riley, but the sides are steep to the point sheerness in most places, and the bedrock sticks through here and there, forming stony bluffs. Any mountain goat would adore the place, if there weren’t so many higher, less peopled mountains all around.
We have a lot of mountain goats in our region. They appear as vanilla colored spots on the mountain sides around us. Many people hunt them around here; I haven’t tried it yet—they say it’s the hardest hunting around, because you have to hike up to where the goats are, and if you’re successful, you have to carry the goat back down!
The guy who owns the cabin nearest ours tracks mountain goats for the state. If he doesn’t already know about our local goat, he’ll surely be interested to hear of it. If we climb up there and find sign, we’ll definitely need to let him know. The visitor may even be wearing one of his radio collars. That would be great—then we’d know where it came from, and where it might go back to if it leaves.
Oddly, mountain goats often leave their craggy homes in the spring to travel down to the ocean. We’ve learned to start watching the far shore about this time of year. Some people say they come down to eat seaweed for the trace minerals, but that might just be a guess. If we’re vigilant, we’ll be rewarded with glimpses of mountain goat families as they climb around the beach rocks. It’s comical to see them climbing around at low altitude on a beach vacation from the mountains.
Now that we’re alerted to the possibility, we’ll be watching our own coast line for goat activity. I’d assume that if our visitor is still around, he or she would probably hike down into Mud Bay, as that’s the sunny side in the afternoon. But, with the traffic from the road (such as it is) and other human activity in the bay, it may choose to follow one of the many rocky gullies on our side of the ridge down to the water.
I recall a story from a young adventurer who hiked the proposed route of the preposterously planned road along Lynn Canal. His tour included the forested cliffs above the large sea lion haul out at Gran Point (which blesses our homestead constantly with sea lion noise, and occasional whiffs of sea lion smell). He found spots in the trees where mountain goats apparently lay down to watch the animals below them from a good vantage point. I can think of many spots on the ridge where our visitor might settle down just as comfortably to watch the comings and goings of our neighborhood on either side of the ridge.