Thursday, July 21, 2011

Goat Packing Hurricane Creek Wilderness, Arkansas: 4 days in Oct. 2007

Pat,Nile,Piton,Thor,and Mona
Back in the early 1970's John Mionczynski started using goats to pack equipment into the rugged terrain of the high Wind River Range in Wyoming.  John is founder of Wind River Pack Goats in Wyoming.   My cousin, Jim Protiva, met John and told me about him.  I was curious and eventually bought my first four goats from a local small goat milk producer here in Little Rock, Arkansas.  I bought two Saanens and two Alpines and raised and fed them from a bottle from birth.  The goats imprint on their provider much like ducklings do and from then on you are their mama and they follow you everywhere.  I took the goats along with my daughter Annie and her friend Olivia, along with Olivia's dad Darryl on a four day hike through Hurricane Creek Wilderness in Arkansas.

Hurricane Creek Wilderness is one of my favorite spots in Arkansas.  The creek itself is beautiful and the topography interesting.  It would be a nice place to take family, friends, and goats and that's what we did back in October 30, 2007.  We chose Fairview Campground off of Hiway 7 as our starting point and loaded the four goats up with about 15 to 20 lbs of gear each.  The Ozark Highlands trail will be our path and it runs along Hurricane Creek and up over some of the mountain ridges giving some nice variation in terrain and views.

Everyone's Packing

Annie and Olivia playing in Hurricane Creek
We had never hiked this trail before and as we were walking a section of the trail that was actually a road, we came across a gate with an old wooden sign arched over the gate.  It read, "Mirkwood: Beware of Spiders". Well, being Halloween and all, it really sent a shiver down our spines.  We then came upon an old creepy vacant house in the middle of nowhere.  It was really getting exciting and we had much fun playing it up and scaring the kids.

Annie finds a nice way across the creek
We met some backpackers on the trail and they were really suprised to see goats carrying packs and following right along.  They asked what they were carrying so we had to really rub it in.  We took some pleasure in giving them the list of great food these goats were burdened with.  They just shook their heads in disbelief. 

Olivia over dries her socks by the fire

When the pack goats are taken from their home, they like to stay close to "mama".  That can be a problem at times, but mostly they are a lot of fun and provide much entertainment.  While packing, the goats usually stay in single file and follow directly behind me.  But sometimes they have "power" struggles and jostle for position amongst the group.  This can be challenging at times and I have to show them whose boss and get them back in line and under control.  Olivia made the ultimate goat "mistake".  You see, she didn't know how goats relate to each other and show dominance.  As Thor came up to her, she gave him a big push on the head.  Well a push is "game on" in goat language.  She then made her second mistake.  She turned her back on Thor.  Well, you know what happened.  Thor rose up on his hind legs and stood 6 1/2 feet tall and lowered all his weight through his forehead with pinpoint accuracy right on Olivia's behind.  She flew about 8 feet.  We all had a big laugh once we relized she was alright. 

Olivia and Darryl

Annie and Pat
I rate this hike highly and would recommend it for all, young and old.  We had a great four days working our way through the forests ablaze with fall colors.


1 comment:

  1. david and i have been anxiously awaiting the goat story! awesome experience for the girls. thx for sharing!