Actually, these are not the billy of the mountain goats. And for me it was almost like seeing a unicorn.
I had never thought about seeing a mountain goat. No. I knew they existed, it had just never even crossed my mind to see one. Then I was looking at the little park map that I was given. In this little map was a list of the “wild” animals you could come across while in the park. Right there in big bold caps, “Mountain Goats”. Mountain Goats? I didn’t even know that was an option, but I was then on the hunt.
I read the little blurb, which indicated where you were most likely to see them. This lead me on a 7 mile round trip hike up some very questionable terrain. No, I exaggerate. It wasn’t really treacherous or overly rough. There were a lot of stairs, but it is me…so I guess not running into stairs is something that I would have had to question. There was mud…again, not all that odd. Fallen trees. Rocky paths. Let’s just say, it had actually been quite a while since I had made that long of a hike. And with those kinds of conditions and without the zone…well, I was moving at a pretty fair pace and quickly realized how out of shape that I had allowed myself become.
Anyway, I digress. As I hiked up this mountain looking for these so-called mountain goats, I began to think that they were more like seeing Big Foot. Mountain Goats, the Big Foot of the Black Hills. Yep, didn’t see one on the way up. 3.5 miles and then…I still had to go back down.
Hiking back down the mountain, I found myself hiking behind this elderly couple. As they stopped to admire a deer, they pointed it out to me. Seen it. Then I mentioned mountain goats and the gentleman said, “The white furry ones? ” Yes, I responded. “We saw those at Needles Point.” I smiled and thanked them for the bit of information as I thought to myself, “Needles Point? That hectic, filled with way too many cars and wondering people spot that I had passed through on the way here?” Yes, one in the very same. Great, because I do so love touristy filled areas.
By the time I got back down the mountain, I was spent with touristy places, but I so wanted to see mountain goats. They, however, would just have to wait until the next morning.
It was bright and early…well not so bright, because my entire trip I had been beating the sun up. I blame the cold I had come down with prior to leaving for South Dakota and the cold medicine I had ended up taking just so I didn’t cough up a lung. Whatever the case may be, because I am an early riser while on trips anyway…I was up by 4 each morning and well on my way before the sun even thought about peaking through the darkness.
I reached my destination highway and just as the sun was coming up, I was embarking on the Needles. I came to a sudden stop. “Could it be? There is no way. Am I really seeing them? Am I hallucinating?” I knew I had been taking a lot of cough medicine, but surely it had worn off by then.
Standing on the side of the road was a mama and her two babies. Once I realized that they were real and not a figment of my imagination, I couldn’t move fast enough to get my camera up and going and me out of the car. They move fast, they do. And up that mountain they went. Up that mountain I went.
I became pretty fearless compared to the girl, whom had come down with a sudden bout of panic attacks while trying to climb up rocks and thin points. All things that she has done many of times before without even batting an eye. Not this girl that had set foot in the Black Hills of South Dakota, though. She had a fear like none other. That girl, I don’t know where she came from, but I’m glad she left. Because the one that I knew loved to climb, and could do so, and didn’t think much about danger….she scaled up the side of that mountain without thinking twice. Totally worth it. Even if the camera did get knocked around a couple of times. I like that girl. I hope she stays around.
Have a beautiful day and tomorrow.
Montana Rose Photography