It looked like a trail.
The thin, steep line climbing the side of the mountain was covered in loose rock. The trail had forked 5 yards downhill, the lower route dropping to a creek. That path led to what looked like a campsite nestled among huge boulders and anemic pine trees.
My philosophy in mountain hiking has always been to maintain elevation. I hate going downhill if I have to climb again. So the uphill route played on my weakness for gaining and maintaining altitude.
Then we saw the mountain goat. It was uphill, looking down at us with what I now assume to be either confusion or scorn — confused that we would be attempting the route, or scornful that we thought we could tread on his rocky home turf.
Unwilling to turn back, we pressed on, stretching to find foot and hand holds to climb over Volkswagen-sized boulders, only to find house-sized rocks on the other side.
Big boulders make for difficult scrambling. Along with the need to stretch for foot and hand holds, there’s also the downside of finding safe places to descend.