For some odd reason, the goats are obsessed with the horse water. Naturally, they have their own supply of clean, fresh water that is changed daily, but they will always prefer to drink from the horse trough whether it’s clean or dirty. I guess it’s because animals are jealous by nature and are convinced that whatever they get, what someone else gets has to be better. Of course by the time the horse trough is halfway empty, I do wonder what they see in it. My horses have a nasty habit of using their water for mouthwash, swishing it liberally around before spitting it right back into the trough. So by the time the water level gets down a bit, it’s always green, slimy, and full of bugs and other nasty floaties. But the goats will practically fall in just to reach it with the ends of their tongues.
Our final hike in Utah was to Upper Calf Creek Falls. It was a lovely and much less popular trail than the lower falls. I wish we had brought our swimsuits, but the water was COLD, so I’m not sure how long we would have played in it in any case. We toyed with the idea of throwing goats in since we’ve heard so many proud testimonies of swimming goats on these forums, but we decided that would be just plain mean.
There was another pool with a small waterfall a short way above the first. It was secluded and we would never have known it was back there if we hadn’t been told. It was a great spot for swimming–there was a perfect leaping spot about twelve feet above a deep, clear pool. But due to the fact that we did not bring swimsuits, we only took a brief dip. It was quit cold and we shivered back into our clothes right away lest we frighten unsuspecting fellow tourists. The goats did not approve of such scandalous activity.
And that concludes our “goat vacation.” I hope ya’ll enjoyed coming along for the ride.
After Devil’s Garden we moseyed over to Lower Calf Creek Falls. This is a very popular hike for obvious reasons. It is easy, scenic, and has a spectacular finale. The ranger at the parking lot was not sure we were allowed to bring goats on the trail, but he checked it out with his superiors and they decided that since dogs are allowed, then there’s no reason goats shouldn’t be, as long as we kept them on leashes. We would have done this anyway without being told since the trail was so crowded. We must have been stopped about 25 times by curious and mostly foreign tourists, many of whom wanted photos.
Devil’s Garden was one of the best places for climbing on rocks. The sandstone looked like sunset–orange at the bottom and yellow up top. The photos don’t do justice to the brilliance of the colors as the sun reflected off the glowing rock formations.
We forgot the camera for our hike up Escalante River, but we went to Willis Creek the next day and explored a bunch of slot canyons. I think this was my favorite day of the trip. It’s hard to call one hike “prettier” than another, but there was something so enchanting about the narrow cracks of sculpted sandstone. Cuzco carried our lunch and water that day. The few other hikers we encountered were supremely jealous!
The next stop on our goat vacation was Goblin Valley, UT. This is one of Phil and my favorite little spots in Utah and is always worth a stop. The best bit is that even though it’s a state park, there are no fences, no “Keep Off” signs, no long lists of rules about not touching or climbing on the formations or damaging the cryptocraptic crust. We were also pleased to discover that there aren’t any rules about keeping pets on leashes, so we were able to let the goats explore!
It was a close call. The halter was way too big, and as Nibbles front end lifted off the ground, the halter slid up over her shoulders and she very nearly fell out of it. But Nibbles is a smart goat even if she is naughty. She bent her front legs around the halter and clung to it while using her hind legs to scramble up the rock.
First step accomplished.
Another good effort. I think she could have made it on her own after the first haul, but n-o-o-o-o. The silly goat kept trying to go back down instead of up. It probably didn’t help that I was at the bottom and she couldn’t see Phil over the top of the cliff. She would rather face jumping off a cliff than face my brother Tim, I guess. Can I blame her? 😛
This series of photos makes it look like a simple 15-minute job, but in reality I think between having to go fetch the truck and ladder, and figuring out what to do with the goat, the whole operation took 2-3 hours.
We’re very glad this story had a happy ending. It was a lesson to us, though. We decided to keep Nibbles under a careful watch for the rest of the trip since we were on our way to Escalante, UT, where we might not be able to rescue a wandering goat so easily!
We thought about trying to carry Nibbles down, but she’s pretty hefty these days and has a lot of kick in her. She would probably try to jump if we picked her up at that height, and she might take her rescuer with her. And that ladder was not exactly a bastion of support. The thing has to be at least thirty years old and kept threatening to collapse in the middle if we did more than tiptoe.
Coaxing, bribing, and threatening had gotten us nowhere. It was time to force the issue. I had a spare horse halter in my trailer. It was too big, but it was the best I had.
Tim and Phil (not pictured) climbed to the top and lowered a rope.
“Engage goat levitation device!”
“We have liftoff!”
Phil and I and my brother Tim took a walk. Just a simple walk. We stopped to talk and rest at the top of an unused driveway overlooking the valley and the little-used dirt road below. Nibbles decided to explore. And here’s where she ended up:
She climbed down and couldn’t get back up the way she came because the ledges were too narrow to get a good jump. She couldn’t go down any further because it was a very long drop. She was stuck!
So Tim and Phil walked home and came back with our truck and my dad’s extension ladder.
We attached a rope to her collar and tried to coax her onto the ladder to climb down to us. I’ve seen goats trained to use ladders, but I knew this was a long shot.
Next I moved the ladder and tried to convince Nibbles to climb over towards me along some narrow ledges. She wasn’t convinced.
“Poor Nibbles! It’s ok, we’ll get you down somehow.”
Phil and I needed a vacation. But what is a vacation without goats? We decided to take a goat vacation!
We loaded Cuzco and Nibbles into the horse trailer and headed for Utah. We stayed in Escalante, which is located between Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks. We had four days of gorgeous hikes through fantastic scenery. The goats got to climb to their heart’s content.
It started out with a bang though. We stopped for a couple of nights in my old hometown of Lake City, CO to stay with my parents. That’s where Nibbles turned a simple walk into a not-so-simple several-hour goat rescue project.