a mountain goat.
He did not speak. There was no need. His presence was enough. His gaze spoke wonders. He probably thought that I was nuts, but he did not move. He sat there contently and listened to me speak. I remember not what I said, just that for and hour I had a conversation with a mountain goat.
That isn’t really lyrical. It’s actually true. It was an early, early morning on my last in South Dakota. I hadn’t hiked my favorite trail yet. That of Little Devil’s Tower. I also had not seen a mountain goat yet. By this morning, I had about given up on seeing these bigfoots of the Blackhills and I had hiked so much by that day-I was a little hiked out. Still, I couldn’t fight this overwhelming “need” to make the hike. So, I made the drive to Needles Highway and through the Needles and made my way to Little Devil’s Tower.
As I got out of the car, I made the executive decision to leave my camera behind. My camera had practically been glued to my hand the entire trip…I wanted to be in the moment. As a self-proclaimed photographer, I should no better than to leave my camera in the car. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
Little Devil’s Tower trail is not really for the weak hearted. It’s about 1.2-1.5 mile but it is up hill and considered strenuous. I don’t know if I would call it strenuous, but it is definitely a little challenging; especially, at 530 in the morning when you have spent your entire vacation walking trails that are miles and miles long and exposed to the elements. I was in my element, but man that trail makes me work for it.
I was about a mile in, I think…almost to the top where all the trails meet (there is more than one way to get to the top). I was tired, my joints were getting the best of me, pretty sure I was sweating even though it was not at all hot and then I see it. I glanced to my right down, past the Cathedral’s trail and there he was sitting upon a rock with many of rocks between him and I. Bigfoot. No, I kid, but these guys-it is about like seeing Bigfoot.
I climbed, I maneuvered, and my way over to him as close as I could get. I was on one rocky hill and he was a couple feet away from me on another. I sat and looked at him. He sat and stared at me.
I had a sense of peace, which I know sounds funny-but I was at ease. We had in silence for a bit and then I talked a little bit. Ate some snacks. Talked some more. Sat in more silence. At that point, I started to realize that I really wish I had brought more than my cell phone. I debated about going back to my car for the camera, but it was a long-long way back to the car.
If I went, would I even have the energy to make it back up? Would he even be there? I had to take a chance. I mean, did I really want to miss this opportunity. The cell phone pictures I had decided to snap were just not going to do him any justice. I climbed, I maneuvered, and I worked my way back to the path and ran all the way back down. That 9 weeks of working out six days a week really paid off that day. I made it back to my car and grabbed my camera. As I headed back to the trail, I looked up-man, it was a long-long way back up that trail. Off I went.
To my surprise, there he sat when I returned. The sun was a little higher, but he was still there. Staring at me contently once again. And once again, I made my way over to my spot. We talked some more, he allowed me to take some pictures, and after many of minutes passed, I decided to leave him be. I said my thank yous and my goodbyes. I then make the wonderful maneuvering and climbing back to the trail. I was not far from the top, but I debated about just heading back down.
I stared at him a few more minutes and looked up to the tower. Mountain goat, tower, down the trail. Finally, I decided that I put too much work into it just to go back to the car. I made my way up to the tower. After more climbing and maneuvering, I reached my destination. It was well worth the site. That picture will come at a later time, but I also discovered that my buddy the mountain goat was not alone up there on those rocky inclines.
There was a fourth closer to my buddy, but I couldn’t get a good shot. That is okay, because I think the ones that I did get made up for it. They definitely made up for me going up and down that trail twice. As did my conversations with a mountain goat.
Have a beautiful day and tomorrow.
Montana Rose Photography