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Sitka in the Khalarhi
Black and White
Athlete Insider: Donnie Vincent
Author: Ron Thomas
Dec 2, 2010
The return to the (hope they are still there) mountain goat hunt was rewarding. They were there... where we left them... now, only more than before.
However, before we could get to the goats, before we even knew they were still there, we came across our first obstacle and it was a dandy. When you start out on the trailhead, you're walking maybe 80 to 100 yards above Rock Creek. You have to cross a boulder field that's a real ankle buster, but it's do-able. There are a couple of trickles of water coming through those boulders that find their way down to Rock Creek, no big deal. Well as I told you, we had a lot of snow in the high country and that's what drove the goats down. However, now the temps were warming up, that trickle through the boulder field was now a raging river, crashing down to the main stream. Hunt over! No way across. And there wasn't.
It looked like this hunt ended right here right now. Optimistic, John said, "Let's head up stream and see what we can find." Maybe 150 yards up stream we found a big tree that was laying across the torrent. And I mean torrent, the water was running down hill at a steep angle, atop of boulders. The water was three to five feet deep and pounding down the mountain. You fall off the log... you're dead. Not sort of, not kind of, your dead. Remember now, John is 27 and bullet proof. I'm 67 and not so much bullet proof. (I like to think of it as being smarter.) It's a 20 plus foot walk across this wet tree, over some water I want no part of. John say's, "Just keep your feet turned out and you'll be fine", after which he walks across like he was walking across a gym floor. When on the other side he said, "nothing to it, come on over." Well, over I came, but not quite like John did. I straddled that tree and did a butt bump across, seemed like the thing to do as far as I was concerned.
Once on the other side, we met up with our trail and headed up the canyon, I was glad to have that behind us.
A half mile later we were to the first place we might be able to see some goats... well, they were there. We set up the spotting scope and John took a look behind us to see what we might of walked past. I started glassing ahead and here's what I saw. (first picture) There's five goats... can you find them? Glassing a little further up the canyon I saw this (second picture), there's five more goats in this one. Seeing them there is great, but to get to them, well you'd better be one of the "Flying Belindas"... it's a hard climb.
We were in goats the rest of the day and saw 18 to 20 different ones... it was incredible! But we were still looking for Old Horse Face, the big billy that we spotted our last time here. We spent the day trying to find him. Bottom line... we didn't. But it was hardly a day wasted. To be able to see goats just plain posing on this cliff and then that cliff. To watch them move from ledge to ledge, cliff to cliff, like they were standing on a highway and not a sheer cliff, well you had to be there, it was way past cool.
We were not disappointed. The goats appear to have moved in for the winter. Now it's time to find Old Horse Face and get the job done. He's there. John and I just didn't find him today, but he's there. I'll tell ya-something... if we find him again great, but just being here is... well you'd just have to be here.
Two more posts follow this blog entry.... stay tuned to find out if Ron and John find Old Horse Face
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