Wind River Mountain Northern Traverse 1999 (WRMNT)
By Menu, Goatwriter for Anne Fischer
My name is Menu. One more year again, I have been voted the most popular goat of the 1999 WRMNT. I also am the most recognizable and personable goat, being a La Mancha-Alpine cross. Our herd this year consisted of 16 goats, 3 two-legged goat guides (Charlie Wilson, John Mionczynski, and Dave Keller), and 7 other two-legged goats: Andrea-Lawyer, Mike-Lawyer, Bob-Sculpturer, Gary-Camera, Gary-Video, and Annie from Miami, FL.
The trip was categorized as very strenuous off trail expedition and the two-legged goats were encouraged to run six miles three times a week to get into condition. Of course there was no training needed for us four-legged goats who do this all the time.
On day one we rode in the trailer to the trailhead and us goats were loaded up with the packs. This first afternoon was described by Charlie as a 3 hour easy climb up the hill about 1000' to camp.
Let me tell you that us pack goats are not fans of switchback trails. We have no use for them; we like to bound straight up. The two-legged goats liked the switchbacks for some reason. However us goats had some respite from the silly switchbacks at a portion where a mudslide destroyed the trail.
The sea level two-legged goats discovered that it helped to walk up 30-degree trails with the mouth open and the tongue sticking straight out. They were surprised that us pack goats climb "easy 1000'hills" with the mouth open and the tongue sticking straight out.
The herd got to camp; we were unloaded and we began to browse some delicious forage. During the night we pack goats are free and untethered, and we usually sleep very near out two-legged herdmates.
In the morning we heard the familiar cow bell ring and our two-legged goats saying "Goats! Goats! Goats!" So we returned to camp. As we were packed up we very much like to hang out in a truly macho style nonchalantly ruminating as we gaze out to infinity ignoring the activity going on and around our strong backs.
We continued up 1000' to Soapstone Lakes and enjoyed good forage after we were unloaded.
As any goat knows, there are some issues of concern to pack goats. One is trail order. Each of us likes to be between two and four-legged goats that we like and that like us. However as the two-legged goats changed their order constantly, we juggle all day for our favorite place in the pack train. This was alarming to the more clumsy two-legged goats who were sometimes pushed off the trail by the wide packs us four-legged goats carry.
When we arrived at the lakes we worked out more goat issues. There were some places on the ground deliciously flat and sheltered from the wind and warm in the sun to lie on. Only the goats determined to be the most dominant of that day get these spots. We worked on this as the two-legged goats put up tents, fished, played music, talked, and sat in a circle around a little fire in a two foot metal oil changing pan.
The two-legged goats were delighted the next day after a hike to even more beautiful lakes near the timberline to spend two nights. On the next morning something amazing happened. John gave the two-legged goats a class in plant identification for food and medicine, and Charlie gave a class in boulder hopping. We pack goats were amazed and amused because all goats should instinctively know plant identification and boulder hopping. Us highly amazed and amused goats were exempted from these classes.
During this day another pack goat issue surfaced. Us older and experienced pack goats know to respect that the two-legged goats food and cooking area is off limits to the four-legged pack goats. I, Menu, know this, but some younger goat folk needed reminding and teaching.
The next day we started off trail climbing through boulder fields. This was fun and relaxing because trail order was no longer an issue because two and four-legged goats could hike in a row. Also the smells were cleaner, fresher, without the complex odors of many other animals. Several older two-legged goats used two trekking poles each to help their balance while boulder hopping. Duh. Don't they know that a four-legged system is better than a two-legged system?
The next day we passed over the tundra. It rained and our two-legged friends built us two large shelters. The same goat issues ensued. Only the dominant goats and their friends got the best spots in the shelters and the less popular, and less dominant goats had to huddle at the edges. The rain only lasted 2 hours.
The next day we went even higher over rock and snow. We crossed the Continental Glacier and climbed up two more snowfields. Some two-legged goats needed instruction on snow walking. Us four-legged goats are naturals at show crossings. We goats love our herd to our very goat bones. That is the only reason we continued with the two-legged goats higher past the area where there was forage for us. However the two-legged goats rang out their cowbell, cried "Goats! Goats! Goats!" And there was always food for us.
The next day the whole herd climbed Down's Peaks. The only complaint I have as a pack goat is that those two-legged fellows took up most of the big flat spots so some of us goats had to stand in the wind at 13,340 feet.
After this peak experience the two-legged goats took us down the boulder fields to Goat Flats where there was tundra to browse on. This was great preparation, for the next day we all walked 10 miles back to the trailhead.
After us goats came down from the mountain we were taken to town where there was a nice field to rest and graze. You know it never gets easier than when the two-legged goats leave us four-legged goats to be among ourselves. I, Menu, wistfully hope that the two-legged goats would spend much more time with us.
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