5th Annual Hassey "Goat Vacation"
Sneaky Sputnik! Phil needs to keep an eye on that cookie pouch!

It got very windy about halfway up. Sputnik's ears can attest to that! The wind continued as we climbed, and as we got closer to the top I felt Sputnik had had enough so I switched the pack to Finn for the difficult final stage.

There was a very steep, rocky climb near the summit where we were really scrambling with hands as well as feet. The goats did great, but they definitely have a tendency to tumble rocks down behind them. We were not successful at keeping them behind both of us, so I went ahead and led them up while Phil followed at a safe distance.  

My beautiful boy. 

Almost there! 

Summit achieved! Woo-hoo!

The views from the top were breathtaking.

Finn certainly thought so!

But as usual, he also thought that the best view on the mountaintop was of himself, up close and personal. 
Blue sky on one side...

Clouds and rainy snow on the other. Time to head back down I think!

The descent. 

"Don't jump, Finn! It's a loonngg way to the bottom!" 

Where is Sputnik? 

A tender moment. 

As we neared the trailhead, the mountain bid us a final farewell. 
After today's hike, I may have to revise my submissions to the NAPgA Calendar!
So cool!!!
Epic photos.

You know, I'm reminded that one of the few reality shows I'll watch is one about gem hunters up in the Colorado mountains. They're after aquamarine, topaz, and amazonite. I think the show was called "Prospectors". I watch those poor people hiking to the top of mountains just like the one you hiked, but they carry their own equipment. I've always thought it'd be fun to get in touch with the producers and show what pack goats can do!
I was very impressed with our young packgoats yesterday. Training them to drive has been one of the best things we could have done for improving their trail manners. Most of the trail was on wide open tundra which of course is a standing invitation to goats who want to pass to the front. We had to remind the boys to stay back a few times, but for the most part they stayed right where they belonged. When they did pass, we told them "Whoa!" and they nearly always stopped and waited while we got ahead of them again. The only time they didn't wait was when Sputnik got in front. Sputnik is the caboose and every so often he gets fed up with always tagging at the back. Without warning he'll suddenly bolt past everyone at top speed and get way out in front. "Whoa" commands pass unnoticed into one gleefully flapping ear and out the other. Finn might stay nicely behind me for a short while, but after a minute or two he can't bear it any more and he goes chasing after Sputnik. The funny thing is that once Sputnik is in the lead, he refuses to relinquish it, so he speeds up every time Finn tries to get ahead of him. Following the goats isn't bad when Sputnik is in front because there isn't the usual stop-and-go traffic jam. Finn won't stop as long as Sputnik is ahead, and Sputnik won't stop because Finn will try to pass him. But at some point the boys encounter a weed that is just too tasty to pass up and then we can reorganize.

We had to do something different when we came down the steep, rocky part of the trail. I didn't want the goats behind us for fear they would dislodge large stones on our heads. It was a bit tricky keeping them out in front because Finn especially was a little nervous about scrambling down that steep, technical spot with a pack on his back. He wanted me to lead the way and kept stopping and looking back at me. But I'd say "Walk on, Finn!" and more often than not he would keep going a few more steps. I had to slap him on the behind a few times as I gave the "Walk on" command, and every so often I had to give him a little shove to drive home the point, but we had no real difficulties. It helped tremendously that he knew exactly what I meant even if he wasn't always sure he wanted to do it. I think he'll be much more confident next time he faces a "technical" climb with a packsaddle.

Not only was it fun to see such progress in our boys' trail manners, it was also fun to work on some new ones such as teaching them not to cut across switchbacks. Our trails at home have enough trees that the goats are less tempted to make shortcuts. This time we had several opportunities to correct them when they would cut corners. I think our fellas will be acting like seasoned packers in no time.
No pictures today. We woke up to cold rain this morning which turned to wet snow by this afternoon. There was no hiking or even walking in this weather so the poor goats had to stay in the trailer all day. Phil and I drove around Lake City and looked at what scenery could be seen through the fog and snow. It finally let up around 4:30 and the sun broke through for a brief hour so we seized the opportunity to take the goats for a quick stroll through the park. We entertained ourselves (and hopefully them as well) by working them over obstacles we found along our route. They were happy to be out, even if only for a short walk. The boys usually get along pretty well, but Finn was becoming downright brutal toward Sputnik by the end of the day. I had to tie him up to maintain order while I changed their bedding.
You two can make even a rainy, snowy, foggy day sound like a wonderful adventure! I love the photo of Sputnik kissing you! He's really grown!
Goatberries Happen!
What fantastic photos Nanno. Really spectacular scenery with your gorgeous goats Smile
Happiness is a baby goat snoring in your lap
It was uncharacteristically cold and wet for this time of year in Lake City. We took the goats for one final muddy walk around the park before we left town. They were thrilled to be out of their trailer despite the wet. We used a few "found" obstacles around the park for training. 

Phil was just sure I'd never get Sputnik to jump through this swing. For a while I thought he might be right. Although not high, it's narrow and it moves when bumped. But Cuzco used to jump through swings so I took a few minutes to work with Sputnik on it. It paid off.  

And then there was this bicycle rack. A fun obstacle with width as well as height. 

The most difficult was this weird piece of equipment. It was about 3 1/2 feet on the high side--higher than the truck tailgate which Sputnik only recently learned he could leap onto with a running start. I started him on the lower end of it using the "load up" command. Then I worked him up to the high end. He was quite proud of himself after leaping confidently onto the high side of the obstacle several times.  

This front end loader attachment was a poser for Sputnik. It was a bit high and a bit wide, but mostly it looked strange and had a shallow puddle on the landing side.

I gave him plenty of time to look it over. 

I would have let him climb up and scramble over if he preferred. The goal was to cross the strange object, not necessarily jump it. 

In the end he opted to jump. "Good boy, Sputnik!" 

Aside from being fun, the goal of these little games is to teach trust and obedience. It's particularly important for Sputnik because he does not possess Finn's natural, graceful agility and self-confidence. Sputnik is strong and athletic but he doesn't know it. Every time I work him over a new obstacle he gains confidence in his ability and he learns to trust me when I ask him to try unfamiliar things. It's making him a very steady and dependable trail partner--something I was not sure this goat could ever be with his flighty, distrustful personality.

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