Since my buddy was having MCL surgery on Tuesday, Sunday July 4th, was going to be his last chance to get out hit the goat country. He drew a mountain goat tag this year, but had been tied down with family stuff and hadn't made it out on any scouting trips yet. Another guy I know who drew the same tag and I had been out already and found a few goats in a pretty convenient area, plus he and had been out with his son and daughter on separate occasions and seen a few more goats. But my buddy, Adam, was the only one with an either sex tag and was going to be out of commision for a month, so it was now or never to do a balls out scouting trip.
Left the house at 4am so we could hit a high pass by dawn to glass some of the continental divide country. I quickly found out the error of my cheap glass habit... My water bladder was leaking into my pack seaped into my binocular tube. They are now permanently fogged. Fortunately I had back ups available, plus the spotting scope.
Anyway, we were both underdressed for glassing at dawn at 11,500 feet and froze our butts off. I was wearing shorts and had to dig out a jacket to put over my legs, plus found an old fleece in the car. But we quickly spotted at least one goat, plus were unsure of two others below this peak, about 6 miles away:
We dropped back down to go get a better look at those goats, as we knew which drainage they were in. On the way in, we saw two cow elk in an old slide:
When we broke out the binos and spotter, it turned out that our one goat, plus two possibles were now 6 total goats on the mountain. You can barely make them out, but they're there. I need a spotting scope adapter for my camera:
Turns out they were all billies! Two of them were exceptionally large bodied and buffalo shaped, but we just weren't good enough to really evaluate their horns.
After that early success, we figured we had time to go see some new country. It took about an hour and a half to drive around to the other side of these mountains, up into a different wilderness area. The plan was to hike to a lake were we figured we'd have a good view of the surround mountains. 4 miles and 3.5 hours later, we were pretty tired and were glassing marginal country. I suggested we hike up to the ridge of surrounding the basin, to see some better goat country. It took a while to psych ourselves up for the 900 foot climb in about 1/3 of a mile to a 12,000 foot ridge. Here was the lowest point on the ridge from the basin we were in:
When we got up there it was worth it, but no goats. We could see their tracks in the snow and were certain they were around, but with the storm coming in quickly, we couldn't dilly dally too long and investigate the next drainage over:
We did see even more elk down below us though:
and the area screamed goat country:
Getting up and down those ridges was a feat, especially for Adam, who is in need of knee surgery. But it was some badass country and a good time, even though we didn't find any more goats.