Our most recent journey up the Switchback Trail was more menacing than usual. True, the ridge was no higher than ever, and the trail no steeper. True, the light clouds portended no stormy disaster. It was only the hastily posted mountain goat warning stapled to the trailhead sign that gave us a clue as to what awaited us.
We had further warnings on our ascent. One hiker had turned back in defeat. Tales were told of a jogger who had been followed by the angry beast. Still, our experiences with mountain goats had generally been uneventful, save for the loud clicking and whirring of our digital camera. This time, however, was different.
We met the goat after climbing a full thousand feet. Mount Olympus now loomed over Sunrise Point. The goat was on the trail above us and proved to be a cool customer. He took note of us, nibbled some greens, then made his way down the trail towards us. Nimbly, he took the switchback. Viciously, he nibbled the vegetation. We tried moving forward, then forward again. The goat hissed in warning. We had gone too far.
The goat would not be moved. He, for the goat was a billy, would not let us pass. We retreated and contemplated our failure. Cabrito, we have savored, but this fellow was beyond our limited capacity. We started our retreat, but then fate intervened in the form of another pair of hikers, better adapted to the rigors of the trail than we. We pointed out our nemesis.
They took our intelligence calmly. "The slingshot," said the woman. "The slingshot," replied the man extracting said weapon from his backpack. Armed, our party advanced. He chose a few pebbles from the trail, each no larger than a quarter for the most part. His first shot fell short. The second connected. The goat stopped his nibbling and looked about. A second pebble followed. The goat moved on down the mountainside, abandoning the contested stretched of trail.
The goat had abandoned the trail proper, but was still close by, threatening. We advanced. We consolidated our victory with one or two pebbles more. The goat wanted no more of us, and sauntered a few yards farther from the trail. The way was clear! Our victory was the ridge itself, and the view had never been better for having been earned in adversity.
|Our nemesis, almost