This was first posted on the original version of buzztail close to ten years ago. I’m resurrecting it here.


It’s kind of funny how certain seasons trigger memories of past travels and experiences in wild country. When fall rolls around, late season canoe trips in the Boundary Waters come to mind. Winter reminds me of snowshoe and ski trips over those same frozen waters. There are too many from a quarter century of wandering the mountains of Montana to even know where to begin. Maybe it’s an age thing.

When summer solstice comes though I can’t help but remember the times I spent years back, living up the East Fork of the Bitterroot and hanging out with a bunch of mountain goats. I’ve posted about that beforeĀ so I won’t go into detail here, but every summer at this time they’d come down from the high country for a few weeks. They’d feast on new green growth, and by about the Fourth of July they’d vanish back to their high country haunts. Good times. Unforgettable times. I haven’t been up there now in years. I should get up there again to see if this current generation of goats still follows the same patterns and trails of those from those past years. They probably do.

My bank account, the money one, has never held much. Usually just enough. Sometimes not even that. But my memory bank is full, which is fine — I’ve always valued those experiences more than I have mere money. That’s why I’ve lived the way I have. If it were to happen that I could never get back out into the wild again, I’d have a lifetime of experiences to fall back on. In that respect I’m one of the richest people I know.

My biggest hope — at least one of them — is that future generations have a chance to have those same kinds of experiences. I hope they, like the mountain goats, have the opportunity to wander the same wild trails that their ancestors did.

Postscript: January 30, 2018

We did spend a few weeks up in the East Fork of the Bitterroot this past summer after a thirty year absence. I looked in my old goat haunts many times, but never did see any goats. Maybe it was the wrong time of year, maybe there have been enough changes to the area that the goats have found new places. Thirty years can do that.

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