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Discovering a Decidedly Distressed Goat

On an overcast afternoon with charcoal smudged skies, a little walk in the park seems to be a thing to do.

In the soft lighting the desert winter colour palette is subtle and muted.

This time I am hoping to find the mountain goat for mile marker 3 on the West Lakeshore Trail in Elephant Butte Lake State Park.

Parking at the pay station on the Rock Canyon road, I head north, knowing I will pass the 2 mile turtle found on my hike a few days ago.

The three mile mountain goat has to be a mile beyond that is my thinking.

First, however, I encounter a weathered nine mile yucca plant. Nine miles north to south that is.

This is somewhat confusing. What is actually facing me as I walk north is what looks like a 6. I am thinking the stone has somehow become turned around as the yucca marker leans up against this for anyone heading south.

The trail rises and falls through sandy arroyos and up where one can view the lake. Nearing Kettletop Overlook I find the goat. A barely there mostly ghost goat, easy to miss.

I walk a little beyond mile marker three to sit at the picnic shelter at Kettletop, drink some water and look out over the lake.

A houseboat moored in Sailboat Cove seems to be the only vessel on the water.

It's a serene vista: blue mountains and grey skies above a silver expanse of water foregrounded by sandy northern Chihuahuan desert.

Heading south again to return to my car, I find an 8.5 marker. Useful, yes. Especially if I were doing the entire 11 mile trail in one hike. Thankyou.

I am glad to have a pot of curried sweet potato and cowpea soup waiting on the stove to come home to, but disappointed that the mountain goat has weathered to a ghost. I understand that the monsoon season just past did treat this area to some intense storms with pounding rain and hail. That has to be hard on a painted stone.

Perhaps I can find a way to offer to restore these weathered trail markers.

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