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Pack Animal VOLUME 32, ISSUE 1 / SPRING 2018 published quarterly Alexa Metrick, Editor/Publisher Pack Animal Magazine P.O. Box 961 Golden, CO 80402 303-910-9176 - Subscription Rates $22: 1 year (4 issues) $38: 2 years (8 issues) $10: 1 year (4 issues) DIGITAL $27: 1 year (4 issues) + DIGITAL $43: 2 years (8 issues)+ DIGITAL $28 (US): 1 year to Canada $33 (US): 1 year outside US & Canada

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ON THE COVER: Ashton McReynolds on the trail with Earl and Finn. photo by Margaret Rabel

-CONTENTSFEATURE STORY -Becoming a Backcountry Pack Llama Guide - - 3 -

Editor’s Note -Meet Our Columnists -

LLAMA PACKING - The Best Pack Llama-


GOAT PACKING - When a Goat is a Packgoat-


FOOD & RECIPES -Pasta Primavera -


NAVIGATION - Navigating Public Land-


POISONOUS PLANTS -Hypericum perforatum -


PUBLIC LAND ADVOCACY - A Failure and a Success -


ACCESSIBILITY - Fly Fishing with a Disability -

- 24 -

MINIMUM IMPACT - To Spark or Not to Spark -



- 27 -

-PACK GUIDEBecoming A Backcountry Pack Llama Guide by Ashton McReynolds


ituated at the base of the Wind River mountain range, the rural town of Pinedale, Wyoming is an outdoorsmen’s paradise. This is where I met my husband, made some great friends, and fell in love with the rugged terrain. Emily Ray, fellow outdoor enthusiast and close friend, introduced me to Al and Sondra Ellis, the owners of Highline Trail Llamas. I became their llama handler/glorified pooper scooper to supplement my full time job as a cook at the

Crossing the outlet of Lower Jean Lake photo by Margaret Rabel local nursing home. In 2014, Emily purchased two of their young male llamas, Earl and Finn, who we affectionately call “the boys,” and we spent many hours at the ranch training them. We have taken the boys on many adventures, and now, with the collaboration of our mutual friend and llama enthusiast Mary Pendergast of XL Bar Llamas, we offer commercial llama pack trips. Emily and Mary had been hired for an eight-day llama trek, during the first week

of September, through forty miles of wilderness on the Highline Trail in the Wind River range. Fortunately for me, Emily couldn’t make it and asked if I could fill in. I happily accepted my first opportunity to guide a pack trip—I have done a lot of hiking and camping in the backcountry, but I am still learning the ropes of being a guide. To combine these skills with my new knowledge of llamas and to also be responsible for an entire pack trip would definitely test the limits of my mental and physical abilities.

By the end of the first day, I was already exhausted and I wondered how I would do this all over again for seven more days. It was a week of fifteen-hour days spent caring for the llamas, weighing and lifting twenty-five-pound to thirty-five-pound panniers, entertaining clients, setting up camp, and more. But it was never long before my surroundings reminded me of why I had agreed to guide the trip: it’s the thrill of the unknown and a love of the continued on page 4



Becoming A Backcountry Pack Llama Guide continued from page 3

ever ask for, not only for beasts of burden, but also because they offer a sense of peace and security. The llamas always seem to know when there is a threat before we have any idea. Luckily, on this trip there were zero alarm calls sounded and zero close calls with predators.

wild, the sight of something so untouched by man that makes every second feel so profound. Other than a few smoky days from nearby wildfires and a couple of mornings with heavy frost, we had the most beautiful weather. I was already feeling nostalgic for the trip by the last day, although I was also daydreaming of a hot shower. Every day I wished for good weather, well-behaved llamas, and happy clients. I lay awake at night going over all the possible things that could have gone wrong. Our biggest obstacle was a series of thirty-two switchbacks and an elevation drop of 1600 feet within the space of one mile. It went smoothly, with the exception of a twenty-five-footlong mud bog in a section of the switchback. There was no way around it and several of us sank into it all the way up to our knees. It took what

We did, however, get a reaction from each passing hiker. Some took our picture and almost every person was fascinated by the llamas, turning each encounthe last day of the trip, alongside Upper Green River Lake ter into a miniand Squaretop Mountain on the Highline Trail interview. Other photo by Margaret Rabel than the redunfelt like eternities to work our dant question of “Don’t they way down that slope, and I spit?,” I really don’t get tired was just thankful we didn’t of answering questions about llamas. run into any horses.

Ascending to the junction of Highline and Titcomb Basin Trails, still five miles from our next camping spot. photo by Margaret Rabel 4 PACK ANIMAL

The trip was a milestone for the boys and me because it was the biggest trip that any of us had ever done and here we were doing it together. Our established rapport definitely worked in our favor on the trail. Llamas are the greatest companions you could

There is currently at least five feet of snow on that trail right now, but Emily, Mary and I already have some inquiries for several mountain treks next summer. I’m more than excited to see the evolution of our mission to promote llamas as pack animals in the backcountry.



elcome to the very first issue of Pack Animal!

Our website is up and running (www.PackAnimalMagazine. com), we (still) have a blog (www.packanimalmagazine. and a facebook

page ( packanimalmagazine), and I’m on Instagram (@alexametrick). Considering we packers are usually fairly solitary Luddites, I’d say that’s more than enough. But I want you to know that we love hearing from you, whether it be about an article we ran, your upcoming event, an issue you think needs to be covered, or if you’d simply like to heap praises on our work. Please contact us through any of the social media platforms or by emailing me at

And who is this “us” of whom I speak? The roster of contributors has grown so much that I had to add another four pages to the magazine to hold everything. The scope of our content covers llama packing and goat packing, gourmet backcountry meals, activism and ethics, and new perspectives from all types of outdoorspeople. To learn more about these wonderful people who share their enthusiasm, expertise, and knowledge with us every quarter, please go to page 9.

Our next Packers’ Lunch is on Saturday, March 3rd at noon. If you’re in the area (Golden, Colorado), we’d love to see you! A few groups shots of past Lunches are on the back cover. The packing season is right around the corner, and I’m sure you all are poring over the maps as we speak, planning a summer full of adventures. Let us know how they turn out! Happy Trails, Alexa Metrick, Editor continued on page 9



-LLAMA PACKINGThe Best Pack Llama by Kristy Brown


lamas are appearing in advertising and retail at an exponential rate and the interest in llamas for packing has been on a steady increase as well. Social media groups and forums have been hot with questions about pack llamas and training. As a person reads these forums, they often end up with more questions than answers. Can

a person pack with females, or just males and geldings? What type of fleece should a pack llama have? How tall should a pack llama be? What is the Best Pack Llama? This question falls into the category of touchy subjects, along with politics, religion, NASCAR, and Brett Favre. The questions are complicated and we all have formed our

own opinions from our own experiences, both good and bad. As a matter of fact, if you sat down with six llama packing outfitters and asked them all the same question, you would likely get eight different responses! There is one thing that all experienced outfitters and breeders can agree upon: animals with good conformation

hold up over time. A llama with an athletic build and balance will have efficient movement, resulting in more stamina and less energy expended on the trail. Ideally, the neck and legs should be of equal length and at least two-thirds the length of the llama’s back. The back should be level from the withers to the hip. The continued on page 16

“Skeletora,” painted for an education display at the county fair. painting and photo by Kristy Brown 6 PACK ANIMAL

-GOAT PACKINGWhen a Goat is a Packgoat by Larry Robinson


arolyn Eddy, the foremost of our western United States packgoat gurus, has made the statement, repeated in Charlie Goggin’s article on the NAPgA (North American PackGoat Association) website, that if you are going to use a goat as a packgoat, it needs to be ‘imprinted’ on humans within forty-eight hours. Knowledgeable packgoat breeders faithfully do that, and I believe that it is an essential part of

grooming an obedient and functional packgoat. Also, constant socialization of the animal by the breeder until the owner takes him over is necessary as well. Carolyn also states that goats that are bottle-raised have no adult goats around to teach them the ropes of being a goat, which is why the bottle-raised kids look more solidly toward humans. Goats who are raised on the bottle but also spend

Sassy-Brown and Little Brother on the trail photo by Larry Robinson herd time with adult goats learn how to be a goat, and those are more likely to get the pecking order issues right and to be able to deal with ‘stranger’ goats. As you can see, there are pluses to each of these scenarios.

water training photo by Larry Robinson

Goats can make the transition from one human to another relatively easily. And even a well-socialized animal can revert back to un-socialized/ quasi-feral status if separated and left to himself (I read once that the two animals

that return to feral the quickest are goats and cats). But to ask a goat to transition from being an originally un-socialized animal to a human-oriented one is a stretch indeed, and from my experience, not generally considered to be possible. I had a personal encounter with this one as I took on a goat that had been five months in the field with other animals. I tried to make a packgoat out of him, and it was nine years of pure, uncontinued on page 17




Introducing Our Columnists continued from page 5

Kristy Brown, Llama Packing

Phil Romig Jr, Navigation & Knots

Formerly a camelid veterinarian for twentyseven years, Kristy runs The Brownderosa Llamas and, in 2012, started a packing business called Midwest Llama Packing.

After the Navy, Phil was a Geophysics teacher and Dean at Colorado School of Mines. He enjoys llama packing and backcountry fly fishing and has designed his own pack rod.

Clancy Clark, Minimum Impact

Sadie Squier, Food for the Trail

Topher Downham, Accessibility

Shirley Weathers, Poisonous Plants

A backpacker who spent a decade raising, training, and packing llamas, Clancy has spent the last several years breeding, raising, and training pack goats.

After culinary school and a stint as a sushi chef, Sadie built a career cooking on private jets. She is a backpacker who believes everyone should eat well in the backcountry.

A quadriplegic who is also an avid outdoorsman and adventurer, Topher is an Education & Outreach Coordinator for Open Space and Mountain Parks in Boulder, Colorado.

Dave Hodges, Public Land Advocacy

A former instructor for both NOLS and AWLS, Dave and his wife owned and operated a commercial llama pack business called Jackson Hole Llamas for over twenty years.

Lawrence Robinson, Goat Packing

Larry, the publisher of Goat Tracks magazine, has been packing with goats since 2013 and logs as many as 200 miles on the trail each summer with his packgoats.

Shirley, of Walsh & Weathers LLC and Rosebud Llamas, researched and wrote Field Guide to Poisonous Plants: Western U.S. and teaches llama clinics and classes on poisonous plants.


Lisa Wolf, PLTA

As a partner in Burns Llama Trailblazers, Lisa trains and manages the pack llamas. She currently serves as president of the Pack Llama Trail Association.

?, More Voices

We are looking for people who have traditionally been underrepresented in outdoor literature to tell their stories. Please contact the editor if you are interested in contributing.



-FOOD FOR THE TRAILPasta Primavera by Sadie Squier


here is nothing like arriving at your secluded mountain paradise and having a meal you’re truly excited about. Sure, the quality of “just add water” pack food has improved (well, as much as it could), but freezedried food has its limitations. A few years back, my husband and I packed up to the Conundrum Hot Springs. After hauling full packs the eight miles, we were ravenous. My husband went to pump some fresh water while I pulled out some bone-in ribeye steaks and got to work. A few minutes later he returned, declaring that every bear in the state was probably on its way to our campsite. I tried to explain to him that we only have black bears, not grizzlies, but he’s a Florida boy so it was lost on him. He did come around, however,

when dinner was ready. While other campers were digging in to a can of Dinty Moore or a crushed PB&J, we enjoyed our steaks with a rich Argentinian Malbec. No risk, no reward. By the way, breakfast was eggs poached in smoked pork green chili. Take that, oatmeal. To kick off my spring prep activities, I drop by the Container Store to pick up small sectioned boxes in which to pack my favorite fresh spices of the year. Having this as a standard piece of gear makes it easy to gourmet-and-go. Also, don’t forget the packet bag. Your standard city takeout meal comes with a whole host of flavorful sauces, from chili to soy, that don’t expire and can easily be transported to the hills. All I need is a vacuum-packed bag of precut and frozen chicken and a small bag of fresh vegeta-

climb into a garlic-tainted sleeping bag afterward. For my first trip to the hills I choose a Pasta Primavera. I find it is easier to do the prep work before I hit the trail, so I chop my vegetables and, if I want to keep my meal to just one pan, even cook the pasta to al dente. It is warm, filling, fresh, and the perfect match for spring. Sadie’s camper box of spices photo by Sadie Squier bles, and I can be dining on anything from curry to stirfry at my camp that evening. The box I have pictured is the one I keep in my camper, but there are a lot of options. For backpacking, the small round containers that screw into one another work better, as they seal better. A great mountaintop meal is far less appealing when you have to

Pasta Primavera Serves 2 to 3 For this dish, you need one camp stove and one 8- to 10inch pan. If not preparing some food at home ahead of time, you will need to add a medium pot, a knife, and a cutting board. 10 PACK ANIMAL

A helpful tool is an infrared temperature gauge that can be bought for $20 on Amazon. This will tell you how hot your pan is. Olive oil smokes at 300 to 350 degrees. continued on page 22

-NAVIGATIONNavigating Public Land BY Phil Romig JR


ast spring, an article entitled “Battle Ground” in Sunset magazine (May, 2017, p. 71) expressed concern about the threats to public lands from climate change, privatization, and the new political landscape. The author, Peter Fish, traced the history of our national parks from 1864, when Carleton Watkins’ photographs persuaded President Lincoln to proclaim that Yosemite Valley should be “…held for public use, resort and recreation… inalienable for all time.” Last spring, outdoor enthusiasts were optimistic that they could find common ground with the new Secretary of the Interior. Eight months later, Secretary Zinke announced the reduction of Bears Ears National Monument by 80% and nearby Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by 45%. Peter Fish’s article ended on a prophetic note: “The national parks are what they are, in part, because Carleton Wiggins lugged a heavy camera through the wilderness. To protect them now, how much weight are we willing to bear?” That question is even more important today.

I have suggested that one way to build more support for public lands is to encourage more people to use them. In previous generations, young people often were exposed to the backcountry. In my case, in Indiana, it was a square mile of “woods” surrounded by miles of corn fields. However, to a young boy in the middle of those woods, they were wilderness. People develop self-confidence, independence, and appreciation for the grandeur of the natural world by going into the backcountry and experiencing it up-frontand-personal. Therein lies the problem. We can’t expect a young adult who has never been camping to buy a backpack, rent a llama, and hike into a wilderness area. We need to accommodate their culture. To build a strong base of support for public lands, we need to reinvent the outdoor experience. One example is the demand for luxury camping and exotic adventure. There is growing interest in convenient ways to ease into a backcountry experience. If there is any doubt, check out

the luxury accommodations that promise back-to-nature experiences on For some people, this could be the doorway to more traditional backcountry activity. Outfitters and outdoor industries have an opportunity to create a revolution in the use of, and support for, public land, but it will require creative approaches to new services, marketing, and cooperation. To paraphrase Peter Fish, how much of that weight are Pack Animal and its readers able to bear? Technology will be an important factor in reinventing the outdoor industry. It is a moving target because it changes so fast, so part of this column will cover recent developments that may have an impact. GPS Accuracy In October, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers monthly journal announced the development of a new GPS chip that gives an accuracy of one foot— seventeen times better than current technology. It also consumes half the power of existing chips and should be more sensitive to weak sig-

nals, providing better reception in rough terrain or under a thick tree canopy. The new chip is expected to start becoming available for smartphones (and presumably stand-alone GPS receivers) soon, but they didn’t have any more details. The message for backcountry travelers is that, if your smartphone or your GPS receiver is working well right now, then you should consider waiting at least another six months or so before you buy an upgrade. SPOT Trace More and more outdoor magazines are recommending that backcountry travelers carry satellite messengers with built-in GPS. I carry my SPOT satellite messenger on every hike, pack trip, fishing trip and even cross-country road trips. Type “satellite messenger” into any online search engine and you will get information about several good systems. Earlier this year, SPOT introduced the “SPOT Trace,” designed for tracking almost anything, anywhere. It is small (1” x 2” x 2-1/2”), light (3 oz), waterproof and rated for continued on page 17



-KNOTSFarmer’s Loop (also called Rescue Loop) BY Phil Romig JR, an Ancient Mariner


his issue features the knot that I use most. It is a loop that can be tied anywhere in a line - at either end or anyplace in between. It is easy to tie, easy to untie, strong and secure, and it can be used for almost any purpose. It also is one of the few common knots that can be used in life-threatening situations, so long as both ends of the line are secure. 1. Pick the place where you want to tie the loop and lay the line across your hand.

Maria Constantino’s The Handbook of Knots says it was called a Farmer’s Loop in a 1912 pamphlet on knots used on farms. For years, it was the first knot that I taught to Cub Scouts because it is so easy to tie. More importantly (for them), after they tied it once or twice, they could remember how to do it months later. About nine years ago, one boy’s father was an EMT with moun4. Grasp the new middle wrap and pull it over the bottom wrap. The bottom wrap now becomes the middle wrap.

2. Wrap the line around your hand twice so that you have top, middle and bottom wraps. 3. Grasp the middle wrap and pull it over the top wrap. The top wrap becomes the new middle wrap, and the original middle wrap becomes the new top wrap.


5. Grasp the new middle wrap and pull it over the top wrap. 6. Grasp the new middle wrap and pull it out into a loop.

tain rescue teams. As I showed them how to tie it, he suddenly said: “We call it a Rescue Knot! We use it to pull people out of dangerous places in the mountains.” He went on to describe how much they use it and how he could tie it blindfolded. The Cub Scouts used it on their Klondike Derby sled to tie large loops in the pullrope that they could grip with bulky mittens. I have used it to 7. Remove your hand and pull on the loop and the two standing lines until the loop is the right size and the knot becomes tight. 8. To use the Farmer’s loop to tie a line around something like a tree or tent pole: • Tie the loop some distance from the end of the line • Pass the line around the pole and back through the loop • Pull the standing part of the line taut • Tie off the working end with an overhand knot or a couple of half hitches

tie loops in a stake-out rope for our son’s two dogs. It is especially useful for tying off any line under tension, such as a guy-line for a tent. I often use it instead of an Englishman’s Loop for tying the end of a line around something, because it allows me to adjust the size of the loop after it is under tension. It functions like a taut-line hitch but is more secure.

I remember the knot as follows: • Three wraps around your hand • Middle wrap over outer wrap three times, alternating sides • Pull out fourth middle wrap and tighten. Note that the knot is symmetrical, so it doesn’t matter whether you start by pulling the middle to the top or to the bottom, as long as you alternate.


Based on the entry for Hypericum perforatum and other discussions in Shirley A. Weathers’ Field Guide to Plants Poisonous to Livestock: Western U.S. For more information, visit or see the ad on page 14.


t’s hard to find anyone who has an appreciation for medicinal plants or herbal remedies who doesn’t speak with at least an interest in St. John’s Wort, the common name (along with Klamath Weed) for Hypericum perforatum. In a quick and dirty online search, various sources name potential uses for St. John’s wort that include treatment for depression, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, seasonal affective disorder, insomnia, premenstrual syndrome, and eczema, as well as easing withdrawal symptoms from addictive substances, reducing the risk of HIV, AIDS, hepatitis, and other serious viral conditions, and preventing some kinds of cancer. But it must be noted that hypericin, the major active ingredient in this plant, is a chemical that can help or harm primarily, though not entirely, based on the quantity

of intake. Overdose or ingestion by certain people with a sensitivity can lead to sun sensitivity, dry mouth, dizziness, gastro-intestinal upset, confusion, mental excitement, and negative effects on male and female reproductive capabilities. The possible side effects and suggested dosage limitations are routinely presented alongside the possible benefits in all discussions I reviewed. With some attention to both growth pattern and leaf structure, identification is relatively easy. Plants are erect, leafy, and become more highly branched at the top. They can reach three feet in height. Both branches and leaves are opposite. Leaves are around one inch long, oval, toothless, nearly stemless, and have clearly apparent veins running from the base of the leaf to the margins. Hypericin is concentrated in the pinprick sized glandular “seethrough dots” on the leaves of the plant, although the yellow, five-petaled, star-shaped flowers that grow at the top of the plant are also toxic. The small, cylindrical, dark-brown seeds also contain some hypericin.

The main harm to animals stems from the fact that the plants are quite palatable, so overindulgence is tempting and possible at any time. Hypericum perforatum is found throughout most of North America in a variety of habitats, from waste areas to pastures and hay fields. Browsers like sheep and goats are most frequently poisoned, but cattle and horses have also suffered. It is highly likely that camelids are also susceptible. Not only are the fresh plants potentially harmful, but hypericin appears to diminish only somewhat with drying so that infested hay can affect animals. Toxic amounts are 1% of body weight for cattle and 4% for sheep. T h a n k f u l ly, toxicity does not tend to result in death. The primary manifestation

is photosensitization, causing avoidance of light, reddened or blistered skin, excessive salivation, and possibly diarrhea. Remove affected animals from access to the plant, provide shade, and apply topical antiseptics or antibiotics to avoid infection. Be aware that the same signs can be the result of liver damage, so it may be wise to seek veterinary help to rule that out.



-PUBLIC LAND ADVOCACYA Failure and a Success by Dave Hodges


hy should we care about public lands? Is there even a problem that we need to write or read about when it comes to public lands? The answer is unquestionably yes. Let me provide you with one regional example of disappointment and one of success. One became an unfortunate failure of our public land policy. The other, fortunately, misfired and failed in the Wyoming Legislation. The success: During the last legislative period (early 2017) here in Wyoming, a bill was drafted by the Select Federal Natural Resource Committee. It was an attempt for the State of Wyoming to open the door to take over federal lands. Please, don’t take that lightly. It was a takeover of your public lands. Somehow it didn’t


seem right and just. In the end, the citizens of Wyoming closed the door. The potential takeover failed, at least for this round. The failure: It’s been several years, now, but the US Forest Service in Jackson, Wyoming had a dreadfully deteriorating facility. The primary operating complex for the US Forest Service was aged by several decades of use. With weakening buildings and an inefficient infrastructure, it was time to rebuild and update. There was no choice. Sadly, the woefully underfunded US Forest Service was forced by Congress to sell OUR land, the public land, to finance the overhaul. Ten acres of public land was ultimately sold to a hotel entrepreneur. Jackson, Wyoming now has a newly constructed US Forest Service District Office, which was

much deserved. And Jackson, Wyoming has yet another luxury condominium complex coming to town—which is now being constructed on what was once our public land. We’ll never have that land back. Our public land is now in private hands—a door forever closed. So yes, public land and the policies that drive the decisions in the management

of our public land are enormously important. Proper management and continued access of public lands is vital to our shared backcountry way of life. I urge you to get involved, and stay involved, in the public land policy discussion, both near you and across the nation. My next column will give you some tips and advice on how to do just that.


by Lisa Wolf, PLTA President


he deputy turned his vehicle headlights to shine on me so the vet could see what she was doing. My llama buddy, Wahoo, still ready for combat, stared after the dogs. His shattered jaw flopped loosely, splattering blood everywhere. He had saved the youngster llamas, but there was no way to save him. I held him as he crumpled under the anesthetic.

that, working in conjunction with the International Lama Registry (ILR), the PLTA has accomplished a long-standing goal: ILR pedigrees will soon display PLTA certification status. The credentials for Basic (BPL), Advanced (APL), Master (MPL), Elite (EPL) and string versions of each of these levels will be clearly shown on ILR pedigrees, along with the PLTA website address.

When I stood up to leave his limp body on the ground, I was reminded of the comment the deputy made three months earlier when a different set of dogs killed our prized nine-month-old. “I know,” he said. “It’s hard to lose a pet.” He didn’t say that this time. I had made it clear that these llamas were not pets. Companions, certainly, but way more than pets. I had used Wahoo as an example, citing his standing as a PLTA Elite Pack Llama. When I explained what that means, the deputy was amazed.

Soon, simply by looking at a llama’s pedigree, you will see that the llama has demonstrated its skill, fitness, and athleticism against written standards, and that this evaluation of ability was conducted under real packing conditions. By referring to the PLTA website you will know exactly what those standards are.

The PLTA Board of Directors has long wanted to make the credentials of certified pack llamas more widely known, so it is with great pleasure that I am able to announce

with our core value to inform and educate, the PLTA maintains a list of member businesses on our website. Each listing includes contact information and a description of the business’ offerings. It is a great place to search for the pack llamas nearest you, as well as to contact like-minded folks.

opened to alpacas for a oneyear trial period. All existing program rules and procedures apply. At the end of the trial period, all participants will be asked to rate the experiment and its effects on the whole of the organization. The Board fully anticipates glowing reports.

At the request of alpaca owners, the Board has undertaken an experiment. As of October 2017, the Challenge and Mileage programs have been

Never hesitate to contact your local PLTA members or the PLTA Board of Directors. We all love answering questions about llama packing.

Recently, many people new to llama packing have contacted Board members asking for information about how to identify real pack llamas. We advise them to look for llamas with PLTA certification. Once a llama has earned that certification, you know that it has proven its ability. People are also asking where they can find proven packers for rent or purchase. In keeping VOLUME 32, ISSUE 1 /SPRING 2018


NACA 2018 Gathering and Screening Event May 4, 5, and 6 at Charley Rosenberry’s ranch Near Ellensburg, WA

Friday afternoon, May 4th: Camping and getting acquainted. Plenty of room to pitch a tent or park an RV. Saturday, May 5: 8:00am – Welcome and Introduction by Wes Holmquist 9:00am - Llama Business Today: by Beau Baty 10:00am - Questions and discussion 10:30am – Genetics by Professor Robert Rutherford 11: 30am – Questions 12: 00pm – Lunch provided 1:15pm - Timed Llama obstacle course. $100 cash prize to winner. No entry fee. Fun for all, anyone can join—bring a llama and a saddle or borrow a llama from Wes. No running or trotting your llama allowed. Obstacles include: haltering, saddling, trailering, and going through downed trees, brush, crossing a creek, and other obstacles. 2: 30pm - Screening criteria: Wes Holmquist 3:00-5:00pm - Llama screening 6:00pm – Outdoor Barbeque provided

Best Pack Llama continued from page 6

proportions of neck, legs and back are important for the balance of the animal while moving. Proper alignment of the limbs is also important to the movement and long-term stability of an athlete. The bones of the limbs need correct alignment and appropriate angulation at the shoulder and pelvis to minimize wear and tear on the llama’s joints. They also need mild angulation at the fetlock/pastern and strong tendons to absorb the enery of impact with the ground as they travel down the trail. Animals with crooked legs and soft tendons won’t have the longevity as an athlete and 16 PACK ANIMAL

will eventually develop arthritis and pain. We have a big investment in our animals and hours logged in training, and a llama with good conformation, that is properly managed and has good nutrition, can maintain its athletic ability for many years. We can argue gender and classic/ccara/light wool/ short wool/wooly fleece types for packing and we will come to a stalemate. But I think that we can all agree that if you select an animal with a good conformation and balance, the odds are in your favor that you and your llama will enjoy many miles on the trail.

Sunday, May 6: Everybody is on their own for breakfast. 8:00am – Beau Baty report on Peru trip Llama breeding programs in Peru 9:30am - Discussion on issues surrounding us today Nancy Hester– The llama’s impact on the environment Beau Baty report - Llama ban in Alaska and BC 11:00am - Q and A on llama packing and breeding 11:30am – More llama screening if necessary See for details or call, text, or email Wes Holmquist at 208 406-1382.

When A Goat is a Packgoat continued from page 7

adulterated pain. He is gone now, but he NEVER accepted me as the leader, and getting my hands on him if I wanted something out of his panniers was ALWAYS very difficult. When you introduce socialized goats into an un-socialized group, you have a basic disconnect: the socialized guys are looking for a human to lead and the un-socialzed guys are looking to each oth-

er to determine their ‘chief,’ and the goats cannot resolve this basic philosophical difference. When you have horned, un-socialized guys ruling the pen and two socialized animals are suddenly introduced and looking for a human to help them sort it all out, the outcome is not good. As an aside, one of the issues we have been fighting in our dealings with the govern-

ment’s Land Managers is their refusal to consider that our packgoats can be any different behaviorally than goats that are a part of a domestic goat herd. In truth, a packgoat’s brain is wired differently due to their early programming, and once established at an early age, does not change for the life of the goat. Packgoats see a human as the top of the pecking order, while

herd goats do not. Where this becomes particularly applicable is in the case of a lost goat: a lost packgoat will go looking for his owner or another human because that is the way he expects to be led. A herd goat separated from his herd will go looking for another goat. Their little brains are just different, and so are their leadership expectations.

Navigating Public Land continued from page 11

-22ºF to 140ºF. In typical use on a pack trip, one set of four AAA lithium batteries should last from two to six weeks. It can be attached to almost anything, such as the halter of a pack animal. When the host starts to move, the Trace turns on and sends a text message saying it has started to move. It then continues sending locations at pre-set intervals (from 2.5 min to 60 min) as long as it keeps moving. The owner can view the location and track on Google Maps at any time. Not only could this be a way to keep track of pack animals or expensive gear, but after a trip the track could be merged with geo-referenced photos to create a pictorial record of the experience. It costs about $100, but in many cases, that

could be cheap insurance. ThruNite Flashlight Flashlights usually are not considered navigation tools, but they are needed for everything from signaling to map reading in the dark. Recently my son gave me a ThruNite TN12, and it is the best all-purpose flashlight I have found. It is all aircraft aluminum, only 1 inch in diameter and 5-1/2 inches long, and has modes ranging from a nightlight to a 1,100-lumen spotlight that will illuminate things 200 feet away. It uses a single, rechargeable lithium battery with three times the capacity of an AA alkaline battery, and it also can use two standard CR123A flashlight batteries as backup on the trail. I have a number

of good flashlights but now use the ThruNite for almost everything because it is compact, powerful, rechargeable and versatile.

in 2013, when National Geographic moved to a website format, and now they do not appear to offer any online or smartphone applications.

Navigation Applications The technology involved in applications for computers and smartphones is changing very rapidly. Some developers have fallen behind (or gone out of the business), while others have invested aggressively and are becoming leaders. For example, the National Geographic Society is a large, venerable institution that has played a dominant role in global exploration and mapping for 130 years. In 2009, their TOPO! maps and software were the best available for planning routes, printing maps, etc. It was discontinued

On the other hand, Gaia GPS was launched in 2009 by TrailBehind, Inc., a company founded only a year earlier. Today they are one of the leaders in smartphone and web-based mapping software. They constantly improve and adapt, and recently they announced that the National Geographic Trails Illustrated maps are included in their mapping software. Things have changed so rapidly that this column’s pervious recommendations are out of date. The summer 2018 column will have an update on mapping applications.




-HARD NEWS16 major environmental protections cut in 2017

Climate change initiatives were the most targeted by the Trump administration. by Elizabeth Shogren, High Country News ing to block this unprecedented action.


The Navajo Generating Station, a coal-fired powerplant on the Navajo Indian Reservation near Page, Arizona. by Nathan Rupert

resident Donald Trump has spent the past year steadily undoing Obama-era environmental protections, especially rules designed to fight climate change. By law, agencies must go through a lengthy process to rescind or rewrite many rules, but executive orders and other policies are easier to erase. Some of the rollbacks have major implications for

the West and public lands. Here we take a look at some of the most important rollbacks of the past year: MONUMENTS Trump slashed two national monuments in southern Utah and is considering changes to other monuments in the West. Under Trump’s boundaries, Bears Ears becomes two separate management units:

Indian Creek and Shash Jáa. The two together are just 15 percent of the footprint protected by President Barack Obama in 2016. The new Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is about half its original size. Countless archaeological, paleontological, cultural and scenic treasures are left out of Trump’s new boundaries. Bears Ears and Escalante supporters are su-

ARCTIC REFUGE At the Trump administration’s urging, Congress in December opened parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. This was an enormous loss for the Gwich’in, a Native Alaskan people, and environmental groups that had successfully protected the refuge from drilling for decades. Drilling in the refuge is part of a broader policy of the administration to increase oil production in Alaska and in Western public lands in general. In December, the administration offered the largest lease sale ever in the National Petroleum Reserve, Alaska. But companies bid on a tiny fraction of land available—only seven of the 900 tracts offered. CLEAN WATER RULE The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to rescind the 2015 Clean Water Rule. This rule—particularly important in the arid West—mandates, for example, continued on page 20



environmental protections cut in 2017 continued from page 19

protecting tributaries that connect to navigable waterways and adjoining wetlands, even if they flow only part of the year. If it’s revoked, those tributaries could be filled in, ditched or diverted for construction or farming without federal review. In October, the Supreme Court heard arguments about whether federal district courts or appeals courts should hear several pending cases challenging the rule. It’s unclear when it will issue a decision. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt plans to write a new rule describing which waters and wetlands warrant federal protection and which should be left to state discretion. In the meantime, the Trump administration is trying to delay the date the Obama rule goes into effect until 2020 in case the courts uphold it.

estimated the rule would have increased the royalties that fossil fuel industries pay to mine and drill federal lands and waters by about $80 million a year. The rule was meant to eliminate a loophole that allows companies to sell to affiliated companies that then export and re-sell the minerals at higher prices, reducing royalties. Zinke said it was too complex and plans to draft a new rule. BLM METHANE RULE In 2016, this Bureau of Land Management implemented a rule limiting how much methane can be released from some 96,000 oil and gas wells on federal and tribal lands. Methane

is a potent greenhouse gas, and the 2016 rule’s goal was to reduce emissions that contribute to climate change, smog and health problems, as well as to increase royalties. Industry claims the rule is too onerous and duplicates state rules. Congressional Republicans tried unsuccessfully in May to erase the rule using the Congressional Review Act. The BLM in December suspended it until 2019, and Zinke plans to rewrite it. EPA METHANE RULE The EPA also passed a rule in 2016 rule designed to limit methane emissions, but from new and modified oil and gas wells, compressor stations,

pneumatic pumps and similar equipment. It was a key part of Obama’s climate change agenda; his administration projected that industry’s costs would be partially offset by revenues from recovering and selling more natural gas. Pruitt has sought to prevent the rule from going into effect, but environmentalists and the states of New Mexico and California have been fighting him in court. The EPA now has proposed suspending the rule for two years while it redrafts it. NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ACT REVIEWS In an Aug. 31 secretarial order, continued on page 21

The EPA also plans to eliminate protection of many wetlands and streams by narrowing the definition of a “navigable water.” This will be especially significant in the arid West, where most streams run only part of the year or after rain events. FOSSIL FUEL ROYALTIES RULE In August, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke repealed a 2016 Obama rule designed to ensure that taxpayers get a fair return on oil, gas and coal. The Obama administration 20 PACK ANIMAL

Protesters outside the nation’s capitol earlier this year protest the nomination of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. by Lorie Shaull/Flickr

environmental protections cut in 2017 continued from page 20

the Department of Interior “streamlined” agencies’ processes for analyzing the environmental impacts of major actions. Now, agencies may not spend more than a year to complete an Environmental Impact Statement, nor may their final report be more than 150 pages, or 300 pages “for unusually complex projects.” Environmental groups fear the arbitrary deadlines will hinder public engagement in public-land decisions. But John Freemuth, a public policy professor at Boise State University, said environmental impact statements are often long and incomprehensible to most people. “Trying to make this process work better and happen quicker is probably not a bad thing, unless it’s done for surrogate reasons, like to get more coal off the land,” Freemuth says. FEDERAL COAL Obama wanted the federal coal-mining program to better reflect its costs to taxpayers and the planet. So in 2016, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell placed a three-year moratorium on new coal leases on federal land while reviewing the program, which produces about 40 percent of the coal burned in the U.S. for electricity. This March, Zinke cancelled both moratorium and review. Given declining demand for coal, though, there’s been no

rush for new leases. One exception: Cloud Peak Energy is seeking to expand operations in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. NATIONAL PARKS MANAGEMENT The National Park Service in August rescinded a sweeping December 2016 policy instructing managers to use an adaptive approach to decision-making, taking into account uncertainties such as climate change impacts, and erring on the side of caution to protect natural and cultural resources. The policy also committed to address worker harassment. Now, the Park Service says revoking the order avoids confusion while Zinke establishes his own vision for the parks. Also in August, the agency ended a six-year policy that allowed parks to ban the sale of disposable water bottles to decrease waste and greenhouse gas pollution. Western parks that banned bottled water included Arizona’s Grand Canyon; Arches, Bryce and Canyonlands in Utah; Saguaro in Arizona; and Colorado National Monument. POWER PLANTS The EPA has taken steps to repeal the Clean Power Plan, the Obama-era regulation intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 32 percent by 2030 compared to 2005. The Supreme Court had already stayed the rule, pending court review.

The Trump administration asked the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals not to rule in the case and in August the court agreed to suspend its review. Trump’s EPA also is reconsidering an earlier Obama administration rule that required that all new power plants meet greenhouse gas standards, which roughly equate to emissions from modern natural gas plants. The rule effectively banned the construction of new conventional coal-fired power plants, and remains in effect. PIPELINES Trump revoked Obama administration policies that had blocked or postponed construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. Environmentalists had long objected to Keystone XL because the heavy tar sands crude oil that it carries has a bigger greenhouse gas footprint than conventional crude oil. It requires a lot of energy to get tar sands out of the ground and process it for transporting by pipelines. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and many supporters from other tribes and the environmental community staged a months-long protest to oppose DAPL. They raised concerns about sovereignty and the risk that potential spills pose to water resources that the tribe needs for farming

and other uses. Trump touts the pipeline projects as key parts of his energy independence and infrastructure plans. CLEANER CARS The EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are considering backtracking from Obama’s plans to boost fuel efficiency for cars and light trucks to the equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon by model year 2025. The outcome is important in the West because California has led the rest of the country in pressing for cleaner cars, both to improve its air quality and achieve its climate change goals. California has fiercely objected to the possible rollback and vows to keep the standards. Thirteen other states, including Oregon and Washington, also warned Pruitt not to weaken the fuel standards and vowed to defend them in court if he does. OFFSHORE DRILLING Obama withdrew large sections of the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans from drilling to protect marine habitats. In an April executive order, Trump reversed the withdrawals and ordered annual lease sales in those areas, including in the Chukchi Sea, Beaufort Sea, Cook Inlet, Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic. Environmental groups have sued in federal continued on page 22



environmental protections cut in 2017 continued from page 21

court, challenging the legality of Trump’s action. BLOWOUT PREVENTION RULE In April, Trump ordered a reconsideration of a 2016 rule designed to prevent the kind of engineering failures that led to the catastrophic 2010 BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. That explosion killed 11 workers and inundated the fragile coast and deep sea with the largest marine oil spill ever seen, pummeling the Gulf’s seafood industry, killing thousands of marine mammals and rare sea turtles, and contaminating their habitats. The chairmen of the bipartisan National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling warned in a New York Times opinion piece that Trump’s order threatens the most important safeguard for preventing repeats of the BP disaster.

SOCIAL COST OF CARBON Trump abolished policies crafted by the Obama administration to consider the cost of climate change to future generations when considering the costs and benefits of proposed regulations and when analyzing the environmental impacts of government actions under the National Environmental Policy Act. The social cost of carbon is a dollar amount that represents how much a ton of carbon pollution will “cost” society over the long run, such as the loss of usable dry land because of sea level rise; stresses to agriculture from droughts; and increased need for air conditioning. Trump’s March executive order directs agencies to use a 2003 policy that does not include directions on calculating these future costs of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Trump administration’s approach has started to run afoul of the courts. A federal judge in August blocked a major expansion of a coal mine in Montana and ordered the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement to redo its environmental analysis. The judge took issue with the agency’s argument that the millions of tons of extra greenhouse gas emissions from the Montana mine would not result in any costs to society because if that coal weren’t burned, other coal would be. Judge Donald Molloy of the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana said the conclusion was illogical and put the agency’s “thumb on the scale by inflating the benefits of the action while minimizing its impacts.” FLOODS AND INFRASTRUCTURE As part of his strategy to prepare the United States for

the greater risks of climate change, Obama signed an executive order in 2015 requiring that the federal government consider sea level rise and storm surge when designing infrastructure and building in flood-prone areas. Just days before Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, Trump signed an executive order revoking Obama’s order. Trump defended his decision as an incentive for investments in infrastructure. Many professional engineers, insurance companies and environmentalists objected to the repeal, saying that the standard protected people and property and reduced expenses to the federal government associated with rebuilding after flooding. This story was originally published at High Country News ( on Dec. 28, 2017

Pasta Primavera continued from page 10

3 Cups Penne Pasta 3 Tbsp Olive Oil 1 Medium Shallot 1 Bunch Asparagus, thin 1 Cup Green Peas 1 Cup Grape/Cherry Tomatoes 1/4 Cup Dry White Wine 1/3 Cup Graded Parmesan 1/4 pinenuts 3 Medium Basil Leaves • Bring water to a boil and 22 PACK ANIMAL

cook pasta to al dente. If cooking ahead of your trip, shock in cold water, drain, and bag. If cooking at camp, set aside. Cut shallot into small dice. • Cut off the last third of the asparagus and discard. Cut the remaining asparagus into two-inch pieces. Cut the tomatoes in half. Roll

the basil leaves and cut thin slices to form ribbon shapes. • Heat pan over a medium to medium-high heat (depending on outside temperature). The colder it is, the hotter your pan will need to be. Add olive oil and let it heat until it runs like water and shimmers, but before

it smokes. Add shallots and sauté for about 2 min. • Add asparagus and peas. Sauté for about 2 minutes, or more if the asparagus is thick. • Add white wine and reduce by half. Add tomatoes and pasta and toss. Finish with parmesan, pine nuts, and fresh basil. Season with salt and pepper.

-EXPECTATIONSThe Pleasures of a Seasoned String by Wes Holmquist


Wes with Sam and Thunder on the way out of the east fork of the Salmon River drainage photo by David Stites

n the past thirty years, I have trained over four hundred llamas to pack. Many of them got most of their training on our pack trips. I always put the fattest, oldest, or weakest ones in the front of the string or group and we tailored the speed and frequency of stops to their needs. Most llamas need to be conditioned to work mentally as well as physically. It takes time. There are those llamas that will go like a house afire from the get go (and that’s great) but those llamas will sometimes be the ones that break down early physically because they worked too hard when they were too tired.

Consider giving your animals a thirty-second break every once in a while during a climb. Even an average llama can go the distance if they are given ample short rest stops when they are gaining elevation. Over the years, I’ve heard a variety of stories about llamas quitting because of a lack of understanding, a lack of rest stops, and/or a lack of conditioning for the llama: neighbors in Pocatello took their llamas down into the Grand Canyon and had to hire horse packers to pack their gear out; another man took his llamas into Hells Canyon with the same result; a customer (a big guy, an ex-football player)

who came along with me to learn the ropes told me about taking a green pack llama up the mountain. Eventually that llama wouldn’t go and the guy dragged him until he couldn’t stand up. The llama literally died during the night. I’ve also had llamas go into heat stress packing them downhill to the Salmon River (about 5000 feet of drop in a mile, and 105 degrees that day). I thought that because it was downhill, no rest was needed. The next trip I rested them on every switchback and had no problem. Of course, these are extreme examples of what can happen,

but with some insight, proper conditioning, and caution for the working animal, both the humans and the animals can have a great experience out on the trail. Sometimes, in our eagerness to present the positive quality of llamas, we exaggerate their capabilities a little too much. The information is impressive until the handler overloads their llama and has a disappointing llama packing experience. While we are extoling the virtues of our athletic packers, we need to remember that expectations have continued on page 26

David Stites leading Sonny and Gringo on the Idaho deer hunt photo by Wes Holmquist VOLUME 32, ISSUE 1 /SPRING 2018


-ACCESSIBILITYFly Fishing with a Disability by Topher Downham

Keith for help reeling it in. Because of my limited grip, it’s difficult to reel while holding the rod and staying in the wheelchair and, more importantly, the boat. We get the 16” brown trout into the raft, unhook it, pose for a photo op, then quickly get the fish back in the river. She was a beauty! We immediately start fishing again.


hat the heck am I doing here? That’s a thought I get a lot of times when I’m trying some new adventure in my wheelchair, especially one where we’ve taken the wheels off my wheelchair and strapped it to a provision box on the front of a whitewater raft. This time Keith, Ned, and I are floating down the Colorado River, fishing as we go. We’ll be out here for over six hours today. 24 PACK ANIMAL

Topher fishing from the raft photo courtesy Topher Downham My fly rod goes back and forth, back and forth above my head, dropping the line and fly near the shore in an eddy as the boat floats downstream. Because of my limited grip, the only thing holding my hand onto the rod is a special cue stick holder that also works well for fishing. The other arm holds me in the wheelchair. Over and over, two of us drop flies in the water near the shore, in places we think we would be if we were really big

fish. The third person steers the raft. The scenery is beautiful here, the water calming, and the fishing meditative. The frigid air, barely above freezing ,doesn’t chill our enthusiasm. We are dressed for it. I’m not even surprised when it starts snowing a bit. OH, OH! I feel a hard tug on my line. I yank back on the rod and set the barbless hook, keeping the line taut. I ask

Fly fishing with a disability can be difficult from the shore. It’s not always easy getting close to the water and it’s not always easy moving from one spot to another. It’s certainly not easy sneaking up on the fish from a wheelchair. If there are any trees or bushes nearby, my fly always seems to end up in them. My friends get a workout climbing trees and unhooking my wayward flies. Being on the water changes this. If you can keep from catching any of the trees or shrubs on the bank and, I should add, any of the items/ people on the boat, you’re good to go. It’s so much easier! Plus, you get to cover a whole lot more territory, something you don’t get to do from a wheelchair on a river bank. continued on page 26



Fly Fishing with a Disability continued from page 24

stands for hunting. If you are permanently disabled, live in Colorado, and want to fish, the State of Colorado has a free lifetime fishing license. To apply for the disabled license, go to www. Other states have similar programs.

Sometimes, recreating with a disability requires adaptive equipment. I try to keep it as simple as possible. For fly fishing, I use a regular fly rod with a strap to hold it on my hand. My reel has been slightly modified with a larger knob for ease of reeling in the line. I have also tried a tenkara rod. This method of fly fishing is a traditional Japanese style. It’s beautiful in its simplicity. It is only a long pole with a line attached to the top. That means no reel and extra line to deal with. That is great for a quadriplegic like myself. Check out for more info. The internet has unlimited possibilities for purchasing adaptive equipment. I like and They have many helpful products for hunting and fishing, even battery operated tree

Topher and Keith with Topher’s 16” brown trout photo courtesy Topher Downham

If you are looking for someone to help you fish, organizations like Outdoor Buddies ( specialize in getting people with disabilities out hunting, fishing, camping and other outdoor recreational activities. A little fresh air out in nature is good for all of us!

The Pleasures of a Seasoned String continued from page 23

everything to do with satisfaction and will directly affect the enjoyment or disappointment of the experience. While getting ready for our Idaho deer hunt in October, I contemplated taking Sonny, my nearly twenty-fouryear-old driving llama. Sonny is sired by Wickiup, who also sired John Wayne, the llama that hauled Leah, the little girl with cerebral palsy, for eight years. I had three other Black 26 PACK ANIMAL

Thunder sons (geldings) that were still athletic and looking pretty agile at fifteen years old. After three training trial trips at home with sand bags, I decided—yup—Sonny is going along with Gringo, George, and Thunder on the hunt. It is such a dream come true to pack with older, seasoned packers that have seen it all and have the routine down pat. I packed along Sonny’s Geritol diet with the concen-

trates I could soak in water once in camp and followed my routine of giving new pack llamas and older or less qualified guys forty-five seconds rest stop for every twenty-five feet of gain. Our trip was a great success from a llama packing standpoint (we didn’t get a deer). With the exception of my comfortable old hiking boots that started coming apart the first day, we were well-

equipped and weathered the storms well. We had a very relaxed and enjoyable hike into and out of our hunting camp, which leaves from a trailhead at 7,000 feet and sits at about 9,000 feet. Nary a llama tired or complained—including Sonny. I plan to have him screened at our next Ccara screening event near Ellensburg, WA in May and I am betting he will pass with flying colors.

-MINIMUM IMPACTTo spark or not to spark By Clancy Clark

By golly, if I can’t have a campfire, it’s not camping!”

I heard these words from my father often when I was growing up. Every time we went camping, we’d make a sizeable circle of rocks, gather wood, and build a fire that more closely resembled a high school pep rally bonfire than a cozy, functional blaze. It was an integral part of camping. That was then. This is now. Today I know that camping is camping, with or without a campfire. Let me say here that I like campfires. However, I have come to believe that if a

campfire is a right, it is equally a responsibility. Here are the conditions wherein I suggest a campfire is appropriate and safe. It’s always a judgement call; these are guidelines for consideration: 1. In winter, on snow. If there is a blanket of snow and deciduous trees are void of their leaves, a fire should be quite safe. 2. When the forest is lush and green. Either early in the season or during the monsoon season, things can be so soggy that the bigger challenge is finding wood that will burn. 3. In an established campsite with a designated, con-

Fire built in a Behrens 2168 3-Gallon Seamless Drain/Utility Pan ($6.33 on photo by Clancy Clark

structed fire pit. If camping at a forest service or national park campground (even a backcountry campsite), there are often designated places where fires are to be build. 4. In low/calm winds. Any of the above can become unsafe in high winds. When should I not build a campfire? 1. When you choose not to. I have had some exquisite experiences deep in the wilderness, enjoying an evening of quiet relaxation, seeing stars as brightly as they can be viewed anywhere, sans campfire. To me, there are times when

not having a campfire isn’t giving up something, it’s gaining something. 2. When there is any significant risk of things going wrong. Of course, dry conditions are the primary factor here, but wind, location and nearby vegetation all play a role. 3. When there are burn restrictions in place. What type of campfire is best for minimum impact? From my experience, there is only one method that comes close to meeting the definition of Leave No Trace: the fire pan. Before I explain that, let me address other fire methods: continued on page 28

Fire in camp photo by Clancy Clark VOLUME 32, ISSUE 1 /SPRING 2018


To spark or not to spark continued from page 27

1. The rock ring on the ground. If there is an established, already impacted campsite with a fire ring, it may be the best choice. However, I see too many people justify using a rock ring in a pristine area just because someone else built it. We should dismantle such a ring, scatter the rocks and charred wood, and blend the spot into the meadow the best we can. In a pristine wilderness area, a fire ring is not minimum impact practice. 2. The sod ring. In this method, you dig a circle of sod, remove it and build the fire in the hole. Afterward, you clean out the ashes, scatter them and replace the sod. I have never seen a sod ring survive, and have seen meadows with numerous circles of dead grass denoting where fires were built. The main reason is that the pH of the soil is altered by the ash (becoming very acidic), and it can be years before grass grows in that

Put two inches of gravel from the trail tread into the pan, which prevents the fire from burning out the bottom. Place the pan on three or four rocks, grapefruit-sized. Build a fire inside the pan and enjoy!

The fire pan in a large stuff sack on top of a load photo by Clancy Clark spot again. 3. Building a campfire on a flat slab of rock. This method has some merit, but the fire leaves the rock blackened, and containing a fire on a flat rock can be risky. Go Small or Go Home! One aspect of the fire pan that I like is that it forces me to keep the fire small. I can stay just as warm with it, I just sit a little closer. I use less wood,

and the small fire adds intimacy to the campsite. Most of all, it’s safer. Fortunately for us pack animal people, the fire pan method is quite practical. We are introducing about two pounds of weight into our equation. I find that 16-inch diameter, 4-inch deep pan, works well for the fire and for packing. Here’s how it works:

When you’re finished dousing, scatter (really scatter) the gravel/water/ashes into some bushes, under some pine trees or on the trail tread. Put the support rocks back where you found them, and voila, there is virtually no evidence that a campfire was there. For packing, we put the fire pan into a large stuff sack and fasten it to the top load with bungees. Some of our most memorable times in the wilderness are sitting by the campfire, chatting, laughing and being hypnotized by the dancing flames while our pack animals rest in the background after a day’s work. I get it, and hope you enjoy many such evenings. Just make sure you do it in such a way that your children’s children can enjoy the same experience.

Upcoming events Saturday, March 3, 12pm Spring Packers’ Lunch Café 13, Golden, CO

April 26-29 2018 PLTA Spring Pack Trials Cedar Mountain, NC

May 4-6 NACA 2018 Gathering and Screening Event near Ellensburg, WA

Friday, June 8, 12pm Summer Packers’ Lunch Café 13, Golden, CO

June 21-24 2018 NAPgA Rendezvous Island Park, Idaho

Saturday, July 28 Burro Days Pack and Walk Llama Race Fairplay, Colorado

August 16-19 Hopeless Crew Leadville Trail 100 Leadville, Colorado

Saturday, September 1, 12pm Fall Packers’ Lunch Café 13, Golden, CO





-IN MEMORYJack Conrad July 5, 1948 - November 1, 2017 by Greg Harford

short and long trips throughout the Sierras, including a three-week trip on the John Muir Trail in 2016. Jack was always ready for adventure, and in 2014 he and Dr. Mike Martin braved a llama packing trip together on the JMT that was filled with rain and snow, but many memories as well. In his 20s, Jack played with several rock and roll bands:


The Doors, the Beach Boys, Helen Reddy, and many others. He was a song writer, screenplay writer, novelist, and artist. He was also an equestrian, beekeeper, sailor, welder, and truck driver. Most of all, he loved people and loved trying new things. He leaves behind his wife, Michelle, his mother, Dorothy, and brothers Tim, Mark and Mike.

Jack Conrad photo courtesy Michelle Conrad

ack Conrad passed away from a heart attack on November 1, 2018 at his home in the Hollywood Hills of California. He was born in 1948 in Maryland and, in 1958, his family moved to Denver, Colorado. This had a profound effect on him, and some of his fondest memories were weekend family camping trips in the Rockies. He developed a love for the high alpine wilderness. In the early 1970s he

settled in Southern California and discovered the Sierras, and over the next thirty years he hiked many trails in the Sierras and mountains around Southern California. In 2010, Jack made contact with Greg Harford to inquire about llama packing. They arranged a trip together so Jack could experience the trail with llamas, which his knees greatly appreciated. They continued for many years to do both

Jack Conrad on the trail photo by Shelly Britton Photography, Š 2017 VOLUME 32, ISSUE 1 /SPRING 2018


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On The Trail

Kris Ostrem and I took these patients from the VA hospital on a llama walk and picnic. It was One of the most humbling, inspiring and honorable experiences of my life. 32 PACK ANIMAL Charley Rosenberry

Pack Animal Magazine, Spring 2018  

Welcome to Pack Animal Magazine!

Pack Animal Magazine, Spring 2018  

Welcome to Pack Animal Magazine!