|"Rocky Mountain Goat" Colored Pencil|
A Rocky Mountain goat is backlit by the early, morning sun. His white wool contrasts sharply against the dark, blue sky. It's springtime in the Rockies and the solitary goat has returned to his familiar position high above timberline. These hearty animals are built to live in the harsh environment at the top of the world. Warm temperatures and high winds have cleared the rocky summits of most of the snow so the goats move easily across perilous ledges. The resilient creatures somehow manage to survive through the winter enduring bitter temperatures below 50 degrees and wind gusts up to 100 miles per hour.
Mountain goats are found only in North America but the herd that inhabits Mount Evans is not native to Colorado. Their natural range extends from Northern Wyoming to Central Alaska. In the late 1950's about 14 goats were released on Mount Evans. In the perfect alpine setting, the population has thrived and multiplied. There are currently about 100 sheep living in the area. We always find the herd above tree line casually grazing but they will migrate seasonally to higher or lower elevations, especially when on the search for salt.
The mountain goats are fun to watch. The big males are impressive looking with long white beards and curved black horns. The little ones are hilarious and full of personality. In the early summer, if you can find the nursery, it's like a comedy show. The kids antagonize the annoyed nannies that are in charge of maintaining a perimeter. They will also chase, charge and buck around the cliffs in a high altitude game of King of the Mountain. For me, the Rocky Mountain goat symbolizes the spirit of the wildlife that lives in the Front Mountain Range.