Photo of the Month: Bycatch

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Glacier Day Five: The Goat on the Trail to Sperry Glacier

Wildlife is a major highlight of any trip for my wife and me. Birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, not to mention fish of course, all are interesting to us. I'm interested in bugs as well although my wife might draw the line a little there. Anyway, on our trip to Glacier, we were excited to see some wildlife. As it turns out, there weren't as many critters around as we expected. Or, more accurately, we didn't see them. One thing that kept popping up was mountain goats. 

On the big hike to Sperry Glacier, we expected to find something interesting and weren't disappointed when the first goat appeared far off in the distance. Eventually, of course, we found one up close. This poor mountain goat seemed a little lonesome. As a young male, it was likely that he had been banished from the larger family group we had noticed in the distance. It seemed that he appreciated our company. 

Sperry Lake Trail Mountain Goat

The best part about this goat happened after I had moved on. Both my wife and myself were carrying cameras and moving rather slowly. There was so much to take in and so much to photograph. I'll share some of that in the next post, but this post is all about the goat. Anyway, I had moved a couple of switchbacks up and was looking back out over the vast scene below. My wife Leah was engrossed in photographing the mountain goat, and it appeared that he was enamored with her. By the way, notice that she is kneeling on some rocks. As far as possible in this fragile ecosystem, we tried to stick to durable surfaces for any off-trail movement. That isn't always entirely possible, but should be practiced as much as can be accomplished. 

The only downside to the sequence below is that I didn't have my larger zoom lens on to get more details. Still, the pictures turned out pretty well. Leah just about didn't move except to keep taking pictures. The curious goat kept coming closer and closer. Apparently she was on his path. He moved around her just enough to avoid her, then kept going. This was probably the closest either of us will ever be to a wild mountain goat. Thankfully he didn't have any ill intentions, just curiosity. After their brief interaction, he went on his way again. Here is the sequence of pictures. You might have to look pretty close in the first couple of pictures, but you should get the idea soon...

With one last glance, the mountain goat headed on up towards the notch in the headwall that featured some rather steep stairs leading to Comeau Pass. We would see this little fella again soon, but in the meantime, we were back to photographing the scenery and wildflowers for a bit. 


  1. Wow

    Wow! amazing Leah was able to get that close to a wild mountain goat; apparently it had seen humans before. Thanks for sharing

    1. Bill, for the most part, the mountain goats we saw in Glacier were all like that. Unconcerned with humans that is. I'm guessing you hit the nail on the head. I think they have seen a lot of people.

  2. Thanks for sharing a great encounter. My wife & I looked for goats on our visit to Glacier a few years ago, but missed such an opportunity.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! We got lucky and saw goats a few different times. It was always random when we stumbled across some, but we did see them. We really wanted to see some grizzlies but that wasn't meant to be I suppose...