Have you ever noticed all the sounds wind makes as it travels through leaves? A dull, quiet roar through Devil's Club's oversized foliage, a dry rattling through autumn's aspen and cottonwoods, a soft hiss through spruce boughs. A windy forest is a very noisy place to hike.
Add to all that wind noise the ever-present roar of the Lowe River, occasional Dopplerized vehicular whines on the highway, and the tumbling of numerous small rivulets and streams. It's no wonder I was a bit on edge as I hiked the Goat Trail, my imagination running wild as every falling leaf sounded like a bear.
All the noise and imaginary beasties aside, the Goat Trail provided a lovely afternoon hike. I'd been wanting to see how far I could get ever since I hiked part of it a couple of weeks ago when I hiked the Pack Trail as well. It turns out, as it always does, that I'd almost gotten to the point I'd wanted to two weeks ago. If I hadn't gotten worried about the time, I'd have known then whether or not I could cross the creek at Snowslide Gulch where the footbridge washed out during the 2006 floods.
I think I could pick my way across, but it wasn't in the cards for this hike. The other end of the trail, called the Wagon Road after this creek, was another four miles away, and then I'd have had a four-mile walk along the highway back to my truck. Not this time, but soon I'll park at the north end of the trail and hike back to here. An 8-miler with no highway walking is much more enjoyable.
The Goat Trail is fairly even; none of the climbs over tree roots and rocks that the Pack Trail provides. There are a few small stream crossings and muddy sections (thanks to the foot of rain we've had during the first two weeks of September this year), but all-in-all, it was an easy hike. And contrary to the assurances of my overactive imagination, I saw no signs of bears or moose.
Here are a few photos from the day so you can get a bit of an idea of what the trail's like.