I know I promised mountain goats.
This is that story. Please don't leave because of the title.
As long as I have lived here, I've been able to "group" the tourists. (Well, the ones that make themselves known as tourists.) They show up. They help our economy. They drive us all mad.
We've got the cruise ship crowd
Wealthy, elderly, generally happy and slightly clueless. Most of these tourists are harmless. Fun story; last year we went on a couple of whale watching/glacier viewing "cruises" that I won through work. Very lovely experience, saw TONS of wildlife. Met lots and lots of tourists. One in particular stands out. Family of normal people, plus one older "gentle"man who was presumably married to one of the women. This guy...
Was basically Richard Gilmore. If, of course, Richard Gilmore was not a fictional lovable character, and instead was a rich man with an east coast accent claiming to be from a wealthy suburb of San Diego. This guy was unreal. He complained about his hotels (fair enough, my state isn't known for it's 5 star resorts.) He complained because he likes to travel and stay in his hotel room and smoke cigars. He complained because he can see whales at his local beach. He complained because the cruise was non smoking. He complained that we had to share a table for lunch and lunch was just random sandwiches. He complained that he was in a beautiful place and no one was listening to him complain about the lack of accommodation for his "needs" - needs being fancy scotch and cigars. Damn, it. Look at the orcas that are breaching two feet away. Look at the glaciers. Look at the dolphins and the jellyfish and the sea lions and otters and the puffins and the scenery. I don't know why I thought "Richard Gilmore." Grandpa Gilmore is a nice person. This guy was nice and actually pleasant, just, I guess, demanding. Also, he had the same accent and cadence with his voice.
But I digress.
The other group of tourists tend to be Asian. Someone told me that Japanese people come to [my state] to try and conceive under the Northern Lights. I'm not sure I believe that. Regardless of the reason, we got a LOT of East Asian tourists. This is fine with me, as I find the winter outfits (coats, sometimes snowpants, usually boots) while I am running and sweating in tank tops and short shorts to be charming. I also like the girls who go on the nature cruises and terrify me with their snapchats/instagrams/selfies and lack of care with holding their devices over open water.
The third group of tourists are the least annoying and that is the European Backpackers. I like these people because I never see them. They come in, they backpack in Denali, maybe climb a couple of mountains, they talk to us locals in bars and they have a great time. These people are the best.
The worst tourists are the Americans who come here after reading a book about a guy who lived in an abandoned bus and died. They backpack to the bus, and about 50% of them need rescue. WHY? Why is a book/movie about some guy who was unprepared for the wilderness "speaking to you"? Why go on this pilgrimage? Why is this a thing?
There are also the young Americans who come here, maybe backpack a little, go to the tourist places, and then have a nice story to tell to their friends. I like these guys/girls too. Mostly because I do not see them and only hear of them.
I forgot about the crowd of Team in Training peeps who show up twice a year to run our marathons. I like these people, wish they wouldn't litter.
And finally. This new group of tourists.
We (Me and some friends) went backpacking. It's a popular trail. I had no expectations that I would be alone in the wilderness like so many times before. I was, however, surprised when we got to the "top" and found our desired campsite occupied by a village of tents. Matching tents. Tents that had a troop number printed on them.
So we bucked up, said "whatever," and found a spot across the lake.
In the morning we assessed the situation. The situation being that it rained all night and everything was still kind of wet. So instead of packing up and hiking through the pass, we decided to stay another night at the lake, boy scouts be damned, and do some day hikes. We hiked around a bit. I thought about swimming in the glacier fed lake (I always have this debate with myself. I love swimming and I can swim in cold water. I know better and I never swim in these ice water lakes.) We heard some of the boy scout troop talking about seeing a Grizzly. I perked up.
After a while, one of the troop leaders asked us if we saw the grizzly.
I said no, and asked them to point it out.
We discussed where it was and one of the teenage boys passed me a pair of cheap binoculars. (Side note: I thought boy scouts stopped after jr high.)
I looked and the SO used his camera to take a photo.
First thought was "this isn't a bear."
SO said "that bear has the skinniest legs I've ever seen."
I said "Well, could it be a mountain goat?" I listed off the reasons that it was not a dall sheep. (Sheep stay in groups, goats are more solitary. Sheep suck, Goats are awesome. You know, strictly the facts.)
I pointed out that it's white, and in south-central [my state], it's unlikely to see a polar bear. Everyone, include my SO tried to convince me it was a light brown.
I rolled my eyes.
They told me it's a bear.
I asked where they were from, not rudely, of course. Although this recap makes me sound rude.
They told me all about how they were a boy scout troop from.. somewhere. Virginia maybe? Carolina? Fuck if I know.
They said they don't have bears. I told them that there are, in fact, black bears all the way from Michigan to Florida. They laughed and told me "not grizzly bears" (brown bears, I think, is a term only used in my region.)
Eventually we wandered off.
Later that day, we overheard a conversation.
"ITS A DADDY BEAR! HE HAD SOME BABY BEARS IN THE CAVE AND THEY CAME OUT AND NOW THE DADDY BEAR IS BEING A DADDY!"
I don't even know where to begin with that.
When we got back to our tent, we looked at our map of the state park. The mountain that a large portion of adult chaperones and a handful of teens were staring at was called...
wait for it...
I uploaded some pictures. You can make your own choices as to what the white animal with skinny legs and a goat like disposition is.
Also, I'm disappointed that the troop leader didn't seem to have any actual activities planned for these boys. For two days! At least plan a day hike, or self rescue class on the glacier or something. Don't just hiking a crowd of teenage boys a few miles from the road, set up camp, and leave them to their own devices for 2-3 days.