Picture this… I’m halfway up a mountain, on a deserted trail and I think I’m lost. I can feel the sun burning my skin, little beads of sweat dripping off my body to the rocky ground below, and while I don’t want to get burnt, the hot sun has encouraged me to wear my shirt around my waist in a dire attempt to cool down.
I’m in a foreign country that doesn’t speak much english, which could be a struggle if something goes wrong. Although honestly, it wouldn’t make a difference if the locals did speak english, because apart from my hiking buddy, I hadn’t seen a single soul in the hour I’d been on the trail.
I may have painted that a little dramatically, but I swear, I was DYING OUT THERE MAN.
So I’m climbing this mountain, in blind hope the trail would come out where I wanted it to. I had no guarantees it would loop up to where I was headed (St Johns Castle, atop the fortifications of Kotor), so I was aware I could walk this trail for hours only to find I may need to turn back eventually (I know it’s a risk, but when it comes to exploring, I wouldn’t have it any other way!). I guess you could say, this hike wasn’t exactly going to plan. Thank god the scenery was beauuutiful.
Like, honestly splendid.
And it was just as I was observing the rock-faces and mountain ridges behind me, when I thought to myself, this looks exactly like the type of place you may find some mountain goats perched on some of said rocky ledges. Swear to god, I literally had that thought.
And then I heard him.
It was soft, at first, and distant. I wasn’t sure if I had imagined it or not? I pressed on, not thinking too much of it, and then I heard it again, a soft bleating. My head whipped around so suddenly; and my eyes were darting around so fast I could barely take in what I was seeing… And then I saw him!
A lonely goat, perched on a tiny rock, on a huge mountain. Fo’ reals.
Now wasn’t the time to question how he got up there, how he planned on getting down, or even what he was doing up there in the first place. Now was just the time to marvel at him like that little emoticon with the love hearts eyes. And so I did.
I couldn’t believe I could be so lucky to see this, to experience something that wasn’t on my bucket list, because I didn’t even think it could be. It was a dream. In that moment, life couldn’t get any better.
And then it did.
Because from the corner of my eye I saw movement, and as I spun around, I saw this goat had a friend, also perched on a mountain ledge to his far left. And then, I spotted another one.. and another one.. and another one! Whaaaat?
Like a little kid in a candy store, I was feasting on what was in front of my eyes, and it was SUCH a magical sight: a cliff face full of goats, nibbling on the foliage around them, calling to each other from their seperate cliff edges. Honestly. It was magic.
As they say, magic is all around you, if only you choose to look for it.
I sat there for a few minutes (okay, for like, a lot of minutes), mesmerised by the sight in front of me. Suddenly, the sun didn’t seem so hot, and suddenly, I wasn’t lost, but exactly where I needed to be.
After some time to sit and appreciate the crap out of what I was experiencing, I ventured on, now excited to reach the summit of the hike. The trail was rocky, and after switchback after switchback I was slowly climbing higher, the views below me growing so beautiful I could feel my heart getting fuller.
And then, after what must have been my 10th switchback, I turned the corner and found myself face to face with a mountain goat. Literally. I was standing there, facing the next leg of the trail, and there was a mountain goat in front of me. Fuck.
A lot of people think if you’re vegan it means you’re some kooky animal lover that just loves all animals and vomits rainbows.
Personally, I ain’t a huge fan of all animals, and I am certainly not about to walk up to a fucking mountain goat and give it a lil’ pat on its head and ask it to move out of my way. And if there was any doubt I might, it’s horns definitely cemented the fact I wouldn’t.
The trail wasn’t exactly wide, and with a steep drop on one side, and rampant bushes on the other side, there was really no way forward except straight past this goat, who, by the way, was laying down and taking up the entire path in it’s laziness to do so. And the thing is, I could have probably made my peace with my situation if it was just one goat… but he had friends.
Like, 50 of them.
Okay, that’s an exaggeration, there was like… 15. BUT THAT’S STILL A LOT GUYS.
I kinda stood there, watching him for a while, and he me. With a nude coat (yes I’m aware that is a weird way to describe the color of an animal BUT HE WAS) and a long grey beard, his body blocking my way, the scene was strangely reminiscent of Galdalf and the infamous ‘you shall not pass’ scene.
With my feet rooted to the ground, my legs stiff as boards, we were suddenly in some twisted Western stand-off, and I didn’t know who would win. Truth be told, I was fucking terrified! he was going to charge at me, and with the rocky landscape around me, I knew I’d be toast if he did. Plus, he had a gang, and I had only one friend with me, who was as useless as a mop (sorry Amy, but who you kidding – you were more scared than me).
After a while I knew the only way was forward, meaning I had to get around this beast (that term used affectionally… of course). With a big breath, I started to creep closer, donut peach in my outstretched hand in some weak offer of ‘peace’, as if to say ‘if you were thinking about hurting me, please don’t, cos I got peaches!’.
He didn’t sway, but just kinda watched me with a ‘wtf you doin’ girl‘ look on his face. It was a tense couple of steps (for me), but he, surprisingly, let me pass without protest or as little as a grunt. Careful not to overstay my welcome, hurried up the next few switchbacks to get away from the herd.
When I did reach the summit, it made the trauma (yes, trauma, I’m telling you, I was SHIT scared guys!), of the hike SO worth it. But the thing is, even if I got to the top and hated the view (unlikely but go with me for a sec), the hike still would have been worth my time, purely on merit of the absolutely incredible experience I was privileged to have.
“…that what you weren’t searching for perhaps is exactly what you need”
I feel compelled to add here, that this is indeed the way nature and animals alike are to be explored and discovered; carelessly, and by accident, whilst in pursuit of other things, but realising in the moment that what you weren’t searching for perhaps is exactly what you need, and further, being able so recognise that you have been given a gift of an experience others will only ever dream of. Yes, this is how we are to experience our world. Not, to the contrary, from behind a glass wall or bars of a museum or zoo. Right? Right. #preach
Immerse yourself in their home, don’t bring them into yours. I guess that’s what it is to live in true harmony, right?
In the end, he did let me pass. So whilst there was a chance I could have died (some may call this an exaggeration, I choose to avidly ignore these accusations), it all worked out in the end. Not that I’m telling you to go and risk your own life climbing a strange mountain in the hopes of finding a wild pack of goats.
But at the same time… That’s exactly what I’m telling you to do.
So go on! Get yourself wonderstruck, girl.
Psst… What is the craziest moment you’ve ever had on a hike? I want to know, let me know below!!
This certainly is one of my craziest moments for sure!