A couple weeks ago, I was up at White Mountain in California. The standard route up White Mountain leads past the Barcroft Research Station, which is one of the highest, if not the highest research laboratory in the world. On our way back down from White Mountain, my climbing partner brought my attention to a sign that was near the road/trail to Barcroft. It said, “Attention Hikers. Report all Mountain Goats sightings to DHS.” At the time, we were ready to get off the mountain and back to the car, so we didn’t stop to take a picture of this sign. However, within fifty feet of the sign we were having a vigorous discussion about why the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would want to know about mountain goats. We quickly agreed that it would make rational sense if the Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, or Department of Fish and Game wanted to know about mountain goat sightings. But the Department of Homeland Security? Were these terrorist goats? Or terrorists disguised as goats? Or, even worse, goats disguised as terrorists? As we walked, the more the “goat sign” felt like a Doctor Strangelove type situation to me. Were these goats trying to get at our precious bodily fluids? And, while the Department of Homeland Security has to secure the nation from the many threats it faces, since when did goats become a threat?
As a general rule, I try to avoid discussion of political topics on my blog. It's not because I'm apolitical - far from it - but because I know that you can find political commentary anywhere else; and this is why I usually try to confine my discussion of topics to what I see and experience, along with making the occasional obscure literary, musical, or sci-fi references that pop into my brain. But, when I was on Shasta this year, I did notice something that caught my attention – a large-ish pool of water atop the Whitney Glacier. For my readers who are not avid mountaineering buffs, the Whitney Glacier is one of the permanent glaciers on Mt. Shasta, and is the only valley glacier in all of California.