Quick report on an adventurous day.
Yesterday I drove south to hike up Mt. Wrightson to take a Covid break, and to hopefully see some monsoon moisture coming up from Mexico. It’s a 13 mile round trip that gains about 4,000 feet in elevation to about 9,400 feet. There were several county police cars at the trail head and some Game and Fish guys warning everyone that a bear had been spotted on the trail.
It was a refreshing morning with light cloud cover.
Looking down into the Tucson basin.
As I started up I saw this panicked woman smoking down the trail with an aggressive male goat on her tail. I thought at first she was just hiking with her pet goats. Hardly the case. She said they were wild and had been below the trail and he had been charging her and then butting her but she was able to keep her balance and stay on her feet. I told her to go by and I would try to stop them.
I had my camera out and took a picture of this bad boy as he was checking me out and before he really got pumped up.
His horns looked like 2 twisted switch-blades. If he would roll you on the ground he could definitely give someone a punctured kidney or a Caesarian Section.
He then came after me as I tried to go up the trail to the summit. I was able to dodge him but he just kept on charging and charging. I figured if I got off the trail he might stay on it and go back to where he came from. Instead he came right down the trail at me lickety-split. Luckily there was another couple coming up in back of me. Alberto is from Argentina and his wife Nicola is an Emergency Room Doctor. When they saw what was happening they gratefully decided to help me. Alberto and I started throwing rocks at the goat to scare him away. That just got him more enraged. We must've thrown rocks at that guy for at least five minutes, nailing him several times with big boulders making direct hits on his head. Didn’t phase him at all.
Here he is charging Alberto and being fended off with his hiking pole.
We eventually decided to retreat back off the steep trail to the saddle to give the 2 goats more room to hopefully spread out and calm down. But the Billy-Buck started it all over again. Nicola guarded their two small dogs and keep them out of the way but also kept taking a few pictures. After getting pounded with lots more rocks from us the goat stopped for a second to catch his breath here in this shot below. What I learned then was that when his tail went straight up like you see here …you were in trouble…. that meant his gas petal instantly was going to go to the floorboard and he started coming right at you like a Tesla coming off the line. So when the tail springs up, you had better get ready for the fastball.
By this time the couple I passed on the trail in the earlier photograph had made it to the saddle as well. The dad, Andrew, picked up a sturdy pole, as did I, and Alberto next took the 2 dogs on down the trail to make sure they wouldn’t become mince meat.
After the goat kept charging again and again I suggested to Andrew that we just sit down on this big log and hopefully the goat might "mellow out”. So here we are trying to second-guess what his next move would be. As you can see he had our full attention as we were hyperventilating with our poles. Andrew at this time told his family to go on down the trail for safety. But Nicola said she wanted to stay with us, being an Emergency Room Doctor, in case we got badly pounded or sliced up, so she kept taking these shots.
The" mellow out" theory didn’t work and here the goat is leaping over the log coming at Andrew. If he could get close enough to you he would try to bite you. I grabbed his horns a couple of times to stop him and his strength was amazing. With my legs locked as I held his horns he pushed me all over that saddle like I was a feather.
I now believe the whole circumstance was a male macho display for the ewe who was his wife. He had testosterone coming out his ears. He just wouldn’t stop. We tried to keep behind this metal sign post so he didn't have a clean shot right down the baseline at us.
He would rear up on his hind legs like a bighorn sheep and just propel himself at you.
We kept telling him that we were both very happily married and didn't want to have anything to do with his wife. But he kept checking her out ….. and then coming right back at us.
A couple of times when he charged me I hit him square between his eyes as hard as I could. He did not even flinch. I think if he could've talked he would've said, “Is that all you’ve got? Come on, bring it on mate”. Below is one of my follow-through's after I cracked him right across the nose so hard that I almost fell over. He has already re-loaded back on his hind legs and he's coming at me again.
Andrew and I were pretty exhausted…my arms were shot…it had been almost an hour since the goat decided to pick me in the second round of the draft behind the old lady….so we decided to all start retreating down the trail ourselves. But he was immediately, pugnaciously right on our rears….and the toughest aspect of “down-climbing" down the trail was that you had to backtrack facing him to protect yourself …..so you're going down backwards over all these rocks on a pretty vertical trail while trying to keep your eye on him while at the same time whacking him away with your log as he would charge at you with the force of gravity on his side, because he was coming downhill at you. Plus it started raining. He and his spouse pushed us down the trail for well over a mile, close to another hour, when finally we met a surprised wide eyed hiker coming up. We asked him if he had a rope and he said no, but he had some bear "pepper spray". Those two words were the sweetest thing I had heard all day. So we immediately nailed the goat with a good blast from about 10 feet away. It didn’t even get his attention. The second blast another 100 feet down the trail didn’t stop him either. He was still coming at us. But the fourth and fifth from about 3 feet from his eyes did put the brakes on. And during that media time out he took, we booked it straight down as fast as we could. It had started to rain harder and we were slipping and sliding down the trail but eventually made it all the way back to our cars.
I can honestly say that ordeal was tougher than any cross-fit routine ever created. And when we got there the Search and Rescue guys had arrived after hearing what was going on from Alberto and they had a helicopter up and were looking for the goats. I don’t think they found them though. And the game and fish guys were still there, after over 5 hours, because they said that now that over the course of the day there were 6 bear sightings on the trail.
I would vote to take on all 6 of those bears rather than duel with that goat again.
Postscript - Green Valley News
Postscript - Green Valley News