Monthly Archives: October 2019

8th Annual Hassey “Goat Vacation” – Utah: Day 6

On Friday morning we broke camp early. Eldon and Debbie caravanned out with Taffy. Herb had left late on Thursday night since he had animals to take care of in the morning back home. Phil and I weren’t heading home but were on our way to Escalante for our own Utah “goat vacation” sequel. Robert and Connie had a little wiggle room in their schedule so they followed Phil and I to Little Wild Horse Canyon for a bonus hike that Herb had recommended. Phil and I had been to Little Wild horse four years earlier but we’d had to turn around because Cuzco couldn’t make it over some of the obstacles in the slot canyons. We thought we could complete it with Finn and Sputnik. 

Robert and Connie only made it a short way into the canyon before they encountered obstacles that their goats weren’t prepared to face. They were forced to turn back so we said our goodbyes in the canyon. 

Usually Finn steals the spotlight, but this was Sputnik’s day to shine. We generally kept Finn and Sputnik leashed since this is a popular canyon and we expected to encounter quite a few people. But since I had the camera, I let Sputnik go a few times to free up my hands. This meant Sputnik did all the exploring and wall-climbing. I’m sure Finn was very jealous.

I love it when goats peer up the canyon walls. I don’t know if they’re trying to see how high it is, or if they’re looking for a way out, or a ledge to play on, or just admiring the scenery like we humans do.

There’s more root here than bush!

The walls are so cool!

“How high is that?”

Little Wild Horse is a beautiful canyon, but I’m afraid I can’t recommend it for goat packing. It’s incredibly narrow in places to the point where panniers must be removed, and there is no place for traffic to pass. This can make it very stressful on goats and on people who are afraid of unfamiliar animals and/or animals with horns. Since half the tourists don’t speak English it can be difficult to communicate that the goats won’t hurt them and they should just squeeze by.

And this was the stopping point. This was the same obstacle that turned Cuzco back the last time we were here, only this time instead of being held up by an elderly goat we were held up by crowds of tourists. Phil had scrambled ahead of us over the rock. Finn measured the height, backed up, and was just winding up to leap onto the rock after Phil when a group of several tourists came down the canyon. The goats and I had to scrunch against the canyon wall to get out of their way. They passed and I climbed the rock and turned to call Finn when another group came up the canyon from behind us. I had to climb down and scooch Sputnik and then Finn out of their way so they could pass us. We started again for the third time when yet more tourists came. After that it was an unending flow. The place had turned into Disney World and my goats and I were holding up the lines! As soon as there was a momentary break in the crowd, I backed the goats up to a convenient turn-around place and headed straight back out of the canyon. If it weren’t for all the people, Finn could easily have cleared the obstacle, but Sputnik would have had a hard time.

Our original plan was to hike up Little Wild Horse and down Bell Canyon, forming a nice loop to avoid backtracking. Herb had never been up or down Bell Canyon but he thought it should be goat-friendly. At first we thought it would be too. For one thing, there were no crowds. Nearly everyone hiked up Little Wild Horse and back, skipping Bell Canyon entirely. 

But not far up the canyon we came to a narrow place with a good 5-6 foot jump/climb/scramble. It was very narrow and the killer was that there was no good take-off spot for the goats to leap from–just a pile of loose, rounded rocks that varied in size from softballs to beach balls. Finn assessed the climb and gave Phil a sad, pleading look. While I’m certain he would have tried to make the jump, there’s a good possibility he could have hurt himself in the attempt. So Phil and I gave up on Bell Canyon, ate our picnic lunch, and enjoyed the stunning views before heading back out and on to Escalante.

After Little Wild Horse and Bell Canyons, we packed up the boys and headed to Escalante. The drive along Highway 12 is always stunning. We were about fifteen miles outside of Escalante when I spotted a cyclist along one of the curves. I recognized the floppy white fisherman’s hat and white tank top immediately. It was Matt! Phil was riding shotgun and he rolled down the window, waved, and shouted “Hey, man! See you in Escalante!” Matt shouted, laughed, and waved back at us as we drove past.

Phil and I settled into our room at the familiar and wonderful Rainbow Country B & B where we have stayed on all our trips to Escalante. We unpacked and then walked into town with our goats so we could eat at our favorite little outdoor restaurant called Nemo’s. We were just crossing the street when we spotted a white shirt, tan skin, and black hair. A bike was leaning against the fence. It was Matt! We offered to buy him dinner, but he had already eaten so we treated him to ice cream. We all sat and chatted while Phil and I ate dinner. We were able to snag a quick photo before Matt headed out. He had to find public land before dark because, as he said, “If you sleep on public land you’re an adventurer, but if you sleep on a park bench you’re a vagrant.”

Thankfully Escalante is mostly public land, so I’m sure he didn’t have to ride far to find somewhere to sleep. He was headed for the most difficult portion of his trip across the Navajo Nation where water and food are scarce and very far between. We wish him all the best and we hope that by now he’s made it to Mexico.

8th Annual Hassey “Goat Vacation” – Utah: Day 5.2

Our hike down from Wild Horse Window was scattered. Eldon, Debbie, and Phil took off ahead of everybody else, then I came somewhere in-between with Finn and Sputnik, then the Losees and Herb, and finally Taffy. Herb went back to help Taffy down the last bit. Eldon struck off on his own path straight toward camp across the rock rather than winding through the wash where we’d come up.

Phil went back down the wash with Debbie, but Finn and Sputnik, who were with me, saw where Phil went. I tried to follow Eldon across the rock but Finn and Sputnik would have none of it. They wanted to follow Phil on the familiar way they’d come up! They stood between everyone and refused to budge until I climbed back up to get them.

“Stop it Finn! Stop being prettier than me!”

Once I dragged the boys away from the group, they finally reluctantly agreed to follow me… at a distance. I came upon an interesting rock formation with some small, strangely-shaped chunks lying around it. I wanted some nice photos of the goats standing among the odd rocks, but they weren’t in the mood for photos and kept wandering back the way we’d come, scanning the far horizon for Phil. This was the best I got before they wandered away.

“Lookie here guys! Over here!”

“Huh? We’re busy!” (And then they disappeared behind the rock.)

With a cool rock formation and an awesome dead tree, I hoped to get a lot more photos like this. It was the only one.

This one is ok… after I zoomed way in and cropped it. These goats wanted nothing to do with my little photo shoot!

If I stayed close to the rock formation, the boys disappeared behind it so they could look for Phil. I had to climb way up the next ridge before they agreed to follow, and by then I was too far away to get decent photos. Little stinkers! 

A little further on I found some other rock formations that were cool to photograph. These took a lot of effort. When Finn and Sputnik finally realized I was not going to follow Phil (and he was not going to follow us), they stuck to me like glue and wouldn’t stand far enough away for me to take pictures. I had to do a bit of shouting, dancing, stomping, waving my hands, and repeating the word “Whoa!” in a loud, commanding voice. It actually worked a couple of times!

Once we finished the Window hike, most of our group decided to take it easy. But Herb, Phil, and I were still itching for adventure so we unpacked our goats and took them exploring up a small canyon behind our camp, then up and across the rock hillside. There was no trail so we encountered a few tricky spots where we weren’t sure if we could cross some of the deep cuts in the rock, but we always found a way and so made a nice loop up and around without having to backtrack.

This poor fellow (or lady?–they can’t seem to decide!) looks a little worse for the wear.

We encountered some steep terrain on this hike. If the camera weren’t tilted this would look even steeper! 

Herb brought a rock portrait that Connie had painted of Bacchus to hide. “Make sure there are no scorpions or mousetraps in that hole, Herb!”

What a pretty portrait!

We had seen some neat-looking outcroppings of flashy red and bright yellow rock on our way up, but they were across a deep chasm or two so our goal was to find some way to get over or around the cracks so we could access those outcroppings. We eventually made it! Unfortunately the rock color didn’t come out so bright in the photos.

Herb and Shelby GT.

Herb’s crew: So boss!

As always, I like to dress for the occasion. Fashion being my greatest passion in life, it is no surprise that I carefully selected this t-shirt to perfectly compliment the rock outcropping we used for this photo shoot. Expect to see me on the cover of every chic magazine in the check-out aisle at Walmart and your local grocery store.

8th Annual Hassey “Goat Vacation – Utah: Day 5.1

On Thursday morning our group hiked from camp to Wild Horse Window, which we had hiked to four years ago from a different camping spot.

We hiked almost exclusively on solid rock and we had an excellent view the whole way up.

“Knock it off Finn! No one’s allowed to look that good!”

Taffy had the brilliant idea of having each one of us paint some rocks to hide at the Window or along the way. She had collected the rocks, washed them, and brought a huge bag of paint pens so we could decorate them. We completed them in the days leading up to the Window hike and we didn’t forget to bring them!

I took a little detour to hide a couple of my rocks on a pockmarked ledge above the trail. Finn, Sputnik, and Phil all followed me.

And then showed me up.
“This is just too much you guys!”

Sputnik gets in on the posing action too sometimes, but as always, Finn steals the show.

Taffy was the last of our group and had to take a lot of breaks, but with her faithful friend Bourbon who never left her side, she made it all the way to the top.

I love this dead tree.  

And I love my Sputnik.

Wild Horse Window! We’re almost there!

Phil and Eldon’s goat, Elliot, were buddies.

I love the arch of the alcove’s rim overhead.

Last time I was here, I took photos of Cuzco and Sputnik’s heads framed against the Window, and this time I tried to replicate those old photos with Finn and Sputnik. Mostly I just made Taffy laugh as I rolled around on my back in the dust and tried to coax the goats into cooperating. They never really cooperated.

Cuteness overload!

Sputnik and I climbed up to view the cave paintings up close like we did last time.

This time I found a goat-headed man demon!

It even has horizontal pupils!

Finn always likes to explore to the outer reaches. I love how massive the rock looks from this angle.

The rock was slippery with powdery dirt, so Sputnik gave me an anchor while I climbed down.

8th Annual Hassey “Goat Vacation” – Utah: Day 4.2

We got back from Goblin Valley, had a little lunch, and then set off up the long and winding road to Crack Canyon. Elliot found a delicious tree at the entrance to the canyon.

While everyone else went around the long way, Finn and I took the shortcut.

And here he comes, in a flash of black and white!

It appears the walls are melting.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why it’s called “Crack Canyon.”

Walls made of cheese?

My husband is not one bit silly… nope, not silly at all!

Regal Finn.

8th Annual Hassey “Goat Vacation” – Utah: Day 4.1

On Wednesday morning we headed to Goblin Valley–one of my favorite spots in Utah.
The Losees and I descend with our goats into the Valley of Goblins.

Our group fanned out, and Phil and I ended up going our own way in search of good photo ops.

I just love packgoat shadows.

Great diving board… if only there was some water!

Sputnik is so boss.

Well, hot dog!

Is that a duck?

Story time with Nan!

Desert wanderers.

The Nomads

The support is almost gone from this one!

Onward to the next adventure!

8th Annual Hassey “Goat Vacation – Utah: Days 2-3

After a restful night and a hot breakfast, Phil and I traveled back to The Wedge to rejoin our group. It was a hazy morning at the Little Grand Canyon

We all spent a great deal of time admiring the view, but Finn especially liked to get up-close and personal.

Finn and Sputnik performed daredevil cliffside walks.

“Helloooo down there!”

Since it’s Sputnik, I know he’s not quite as close to the edge as he looks. He’s a fairly cautious fellow.

Herb’s goat, Bacchus, commands center stage.

That afternoon we drove to the bottom of Buckhorn Draw and hiked a short ways up Calf Canyon. It took us a while to get going, and it was during the prep time that a cyclist came by that I’d seen the day before on top of The Wedge. He had been coming just as we had been going, but today he stopped because he was curious about our goats. We told him a little about ourselves and then he told us he was on an adventure to ride his bicycle from Canada to Mexico using almost exclusively dirt roads. So far he had been mostly successful at avoiding pavement. His name was Matt, he was about 30 years old, he had a broad, infectious smile, and he was a Coloradan like us! He had snuck across a rancher’s land so he could quickly touch foot on Canada, and now he was headed for the southern border. He was the epitome of the carefree, wandering spirit. He’d spent time in Montana teaching a marching band class to earn money for his trip. He’d spent time playing in a jazz band in New Orleans to earn money for a similar bike trip the year before. He traveled impossibly light and would camp in the open on public land, filtering water from creeks and stock tanks. What a marvelous young gypsy! I’ll never forget that great, toothy smile, deep tan, and dark eyes sparkling with the joy of adventure. We shook hands and wished him best of luck on his journey then packed our goats and set off on a much shorter journey of our own. 

I spent the first part of the hike with Taffy. We went slow, but that gave us plenty of time to visit.

We ate lunch in this little grove near a spring before heading back. It was a short hike but a merry one!

On Tuesday morning we stopped by the San Rafael Museum before heading out to the Goblin Valley area. We were greeted by a replica of a famous petroglyph in the area that Phil and I saw once before in person when we visited Ferron in 2018. I didn’t remember seeing this goat! Of course, the replica is somewhat more clearly etched than the original, and also there are a LOT of figures on this panel. But here is the goat now since I apparently missed it the first time…

Phil poses with one of Finn’s distant relatives.

Phil was highly amused by this old high school spanking paddle. The word PAIN is drilled into this “board of education”!

We found a wonderful campsite near Goblin Valley, and the best part was that there was a scenic little wash that went right by so we could explore or go for interesting walks right from camp. We did a little exploring that first night before dark.

Eldon and Hobbes share a moment. Hobbes is so like a miniature Pac-Man.

8th Annual Hassey “Goat Vacation” – Utah: Day 1

Phil and I headed back to one of our favorite goat packing destinations for our annual “goat vacation” this year: Utah! We started out near the town of Ferron, home of our friend Herb Flower who was the guide and host for the first week of our trip. In Ferron we met up with several other goat packing aficionados, including Taffy Mercer and Eldon and Debbie Otta from Washington state, and Robert and Connie Losee from Texas. All of us brought packgoats, so it was a quite nice-sized group!

For our first day, Herb took us out on the Morrison Formation. This is a barren, rocky area of open BLM land where very little vegetation grows, but it is rich with fossils and Indian artifacts. Everyone took away a few mineral specimens, and I even found a beautiful little white arrowhead!

Most of us avoided the steep terrain, but Phil and Eldon took a detour and of course their goats followed them. A climb like this is nothing to a nimble goat!

Ahh… the top at last!

Eldon and the boys taking in the view.

Eldon Otta is the man from Washington who met us in Utah to buy Pac-Man in 2015. Eldon loved Pac-Man, but sadly Pac-Man died untimely in December 2017 at only 4 years old. Eldon was heartbroken, but he regrouped and purchased a couple of little mini-Nubians with coloring similar to Pac-Man’s. He named them Elliot and Hobbes. They will never be large packgoats, but they are exactly suited to Eldon’s style of hiking.

And here are the rest of us who were not ambitious enough to climb the ridge.

Nan and Taffy examine their treasures. 

At some point, Robert and Connie’s young packgoats got confused. They didn’t like the two dogs that accompanied us, and they were also afraid of the big packgoats with horns. Phil and Eldon and their goats had gone one direction while the rest of the group went the other. I’m not sure Sprite and Blackie knew which way their own people had gone, so they set off on their own!

Sprite and Blackie disappeared up the ridge where Phil and Eldon had gone, but by then Phil and Eldon had circled back down and rejoined the rest of the group. No one was around, so Sprite and Blackie kept right on climbing! They disappeared over a high, distant ridge line so Phil and Herb went on a recovery mission. They found the two errant goats at the highest point they could reach, stopped at the edge of a cliff. Robert and Connie did not let them off-lead after that little adventure!

While up top, Phil and Herb found a partially exposed dinosaur skeleton. If you look carefully you can see traces of it in the soil. Herb plans to go back and do some more exploring. 

We ate lunch in the shade of some boulders.

Herb took us to the outcropping of purple and gold rocks that Phil and I had visited on our last trip to Ferron in 2018. Sputnik’s halter and my t-shirt were very appropriate for the scenery. It’s always good to dress for the occasion!

I liked this rainbow-like ridge of rock.

Mighty Warrior Woman Nan! With arms of steel, she splits rocks like pie crust!

Sometimes the rocks disguise themselves as dinosaur skeletons.

On closer inspection, maybe it’s a large desert caterpillar. See the dark eye and the antenna on the left? Phil and Finn better watch out!

Eldon and his crew enjoy the bright yellow rocks.

Taffy’s goat, Bourbon, enjoys the few sprigs of dry grass he can find.

A beautiful wash of colors.

Contrasted with the lovely starkness of this whitewashed boulder field.

It was obvious from the soil that there had been quite a bit of moisture earlier in the year. The top layer been washed over, leaving a fascinating micro-replica of the larger formation. There were tiny “goblins” and pinnacles formed from the soil and pebbles.

I loved this pinto-colored sandstone. It was fairly common in the dry river bottom. I brought home a couple of specimens, including one to decorate Jet’s grave.

There was a large culvert we had to pass through on our way in and out. The goats were a little suspicious. 

After exploring the Morrison Formation, Herb took us to The Wedge at Buckhorn Draw. It’s also known as the “Little Grand Canyon” and I can certainly see why!

Herb and the rest of the crew spent the night here while Phil and I traveled back to Castle Dale so we could enjoy a cozy bed and breakfast. Their view was better for sure, but Phil and I love a hot shower!