Roan Mountains and the Goats

Roan Mountain dogI went to Roan Mountain to take pictures of goats and all I got is a picture of a dog.

From Carvers Gap, the Appalachian Trail climbs up close to Grassy Ridge and then turns left. If you continue right for a short while, you’ll reach Grassy Ridge, where you can see the world in 2.5 miles.

Gray's Lily on RoanYou’ll pass Round Bald, Engine Gap, and Jane Bald where if you’re lucky you may see Gray’s lily, a small red cup-shaped lily. On Sunday, we were lucky. The Gray’s lily is globally rare but wasn’t rare on Roan.

Julie of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy told me that I couldn’t miss the goats – they were in between Engine Gap and Jane Bald. The fence was obvious and so were the two dogs that approached me.

We walked partway around the fence to look for goats but the dogs were very wary of us. They stared at us and Tish said what I was thinking. “I hope these dogs can’t jump the fence”. Finally, we spied a group of goats beyond the rhododendron thickets. They were munching happily but were not going to greet us.

Why was the Forest Service keeping these goats so protected? In Britain, goats and sheep just wander happily in the fields and scamper away when hikers cross their paths. Were they protecting goats from hikers – you know in case backpackers think they can roast a goat instead of eating freeze-dry food? Or were they protecting people from goats butting them?

The answer came to me the next day. Duh… This isn’t Britain. There are bears and coyotes On Roan Mountain which may see goats as an unexpected protein treat.

Roan Mountain azaleasThe azalea and rhododendron blooms will hang on for a few more days but it’s obvious that the height of the color is over. Hang in there until September for the blueberries. 


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