Pac-Man’s First Hike

Yesterday, Pac-Man accompanied Phil and I on his first-ever hike! He’s been on walks with us and the girls nearly every day since we got him, but not any bona-fide hikes on real live hiking trails! Cuzco came too, of course, to show the little squirt how a proper packgoat does things.

Pac-Man started off the first half-mile by continually trying to sneak past me. I couldn’t let my guard down for a moment. His persistence ended when Phil handed me his flannel shirt to carry and I whapped Pac-Man across the face with it as he tried to dart around my legs. That startled him and he kept a safe distance afterwards.

Unfortunately, keeping a safe distance made Pac-Man nervous (or perhaps he was crying because his feelings were hurt), so he started up a racket of mournful baa-aa-s. He kept stopping in the trail and looking back as well. Cuzco, who was in the rear, did not tolerate this behavior for long. He began shoving Pac-Man in the bottom every time he stopped, which kept the procession going, but it did nothing to shut the little goat up.

So Cuzco took charge and rearranged the hiking order.

Once he was relegated to the back, Pac-Man settled down, stopped crying, quit turning around, and things went on very nicely until we got to our first water crossing. Cuzco hesitated only enough to decide the best path before showing Pac-Man how to properly negotiate a creek.

Unfortunately, Cuzco’s example did not leave much of an impression on Pac-Man. This is as far as he would go:

Phil and I thought that if we hiked off he would eventually muster up the courage to follow. We disappeared into the woods, closing our ears to Pac-Man’s frantic despairing cries, but unfortunately our plan didn’t work out. I peered back through the trees only to see Pac-Man running desperately up the trail in the wrong direction!

I quickly went back and called to him, and relief washed over his panicked face when he saw me, but it wasn’t enough to make him cross the water. Oh well… we encountered the same problem with Nibbles’ first water crossing when we took her with us to Utah two years ago, so I guess we can’t blame Pac-Man’s Nubian heritage. Not everyone is born a natural. It was time to break out the leash and force the issue.

I walked over the log bridge and I hauled on the leash until Pac-Man was forced to come after me. He did not make a very graceful first attempt, I’m afraid. Because he was pulling against me but trying to run across quickly at the same time, he lost his balance halfway and fell into the brush on the downstream side. He leaped out, a little wet and somewhat terrified, but otherwise fine.

The first crossing wasn’t up to spec, so I figured now was a good opportunity to practice a couple more times. This time I waded in to show Pac-Man that water is safe. Contrary to his suspicions, it does not burn skin off like acid. Pac-Man stood resolutely on the bank, all four feet planted firmly, while I waded into the water. When I reached the end of the lead, I turned around and hauled away, thinking I could drag him in. Instead, Pac-Man responded with an almighty LEAP. I got a panicked glimpse of a goat hurtling airborne right toward my body before I turned and scrambled desperately out of the way. He cleared the eight-foot gap between us at chest-level and landed with a splash almost on top of me before bolting up the bank. I avoided getting flattened or dunked, but I do have a nice bruise on my calf where one of his hooves got me in passing.

Thankfully that was the end of the water drama. Pac-Man figured out how to walk (well, run) across the log after that.

Honestly, Pac-Man much prefers water crossings like this one:

I get more impressed with this old goat every time we take him anywhere. He just loves getting out and going places, and I think he really enjoyed showing off his water and log crossing skills to Pac-Man. Pac-Man even learned some things about log crossing. Cuzco also set a good example of staying on the trail instead of cutting switchbacks. We were having problems with that when Pac-Man was in front, but once Cuzco took the lead, there was no more trail-cutting.

On the way home I was brave enough to let the boys stand loose in the truck bed. This is a skill that Cuzco has that I want Pac-Man to learn. They did great! Cuzco did not try to shove Pac-Man out of the truck. When Pac-Man was smaller I worried about this so I always tied everyone up.

This is how Cuzco likes to ride–with his head to the wind!

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