Death on the trail

Posted by Ken Campbell October 20, 2010 0 Comment 1039 views
I took these photos last year on the trail that leads from Hurricane Ridge to Lake Angeles. An extended family of goats making their way along the trail, with a stout billy up front, some kids and an older female near the end made up the group. I got off the trail, stood in the brush about 6 feet away as they passed. The young ones skittered by quickly, wanting nothing to do with me, but the older ones, especially the leader with the tracking collar, showed no fear at all. I remember thinking that, if he wanted to, he could do some damage.

Further on, about 20 minutes after the encounter, I met a pair of hikers going the opposite direction. They told me of a goat that had forced them off the trail and had pursued one of them, stopping only when he was distracted by the other hiker. They warned me to give him a wide berth. I thanked them, told them about the other goats that were still ahead of them, and went on my way.

I saw him not much further along, a big fellow, standing in the middle of the trail and seemingly daring me to come closer. I have never seen a vegetarian with such a carnivorous look in his eyes and I quickly adjusted my route. I went off-trail and down hill, out of his field of vision, and stayed down, following a parallel track for at least a hundred yards or so before curling back up hill once more. By this time, I was well east of his position and he was no longer a factor.

I didn’t think too much about it after that. I wrote about the encounter right after it happened, but it all came back to me again this week when I saw that a goat had gored a hiker last Saturday and killed him on a stretch of trail very close to where I had been. Even stood over the body, preventing any aid, while the hiker’s companions pelted him with rocks and tried to get at the victim.

Rangers later shot the animal and it is the subject of a necropsy that will hopefully explain why the goat acted the way it did. This goat and others have been tracked by Park personnel for the last four years because of repeated encounters with hikers where the animals have not backed down. Results of the exam are expected in a couple weeks.

The victim’s name was Robert Boardman, 63, of Port Angeles.

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