Click here or on the photo of Arbor and Gordo to see a slide show from the trip.
These photos are from a 300-mile trip I took with my sons Wiley and Arbor this summer. We walked from near our home to the Columbia River at the Washington border, following the scenic Pacific Crest Trail at the top of the Cascade Mountains. We made an odd sight, with our two adult pack goats and three 6-month-old baby packers-in-training. The adult goats wore a miniature pack saddle made of aluminum, with a piece of carpet on each side for padding. Two 4-gallon plastic buckets in webbing harnesses hung from the saddle's crossbuck, with our sleeping bags and foam pads on top. The buckets were handy in camp as water pails and chairs.
Goats are the ideal pack animal ... they follow better than dogs, are surefooted enough to cross any terrain a person can, eat just about anything (including other hikers' toilet paper gross!), and can carry 40 pounds of gear and food. They loyally follow along the trail, and at camp they stay close by. No need to tie them up ... our main worry was keeping them out of our packs! This makes traveling with goats far easier than with horses ... when we want to take a break, we just plop down wherever we are, without fear the goats will run off.
Goats, though, have strong personalities. We soon found out that Gordo (the white goat) was incurably lazy. He evolved all sorts of tactics for stalling on the trail, such as shoving to the front of the line and stopping (which stopped all the other goats, too, so he couldn't be left behind), or darting off the trail and wedging himself under a low tree branch so that it took forever to get him unstuck. We prevailed in the end, though, after we made the discovery that Gordo is also incurably ticklish between his back legs ... all it took was a light touch in the right place, and he surged forward as if rocket-propelled. Although this technique remained 100% effective for the duration of our trip, I've decided that I'm never going anywhere with Gordo again!