For the first time ever in the history of CFI we used llamas this season to assist with our pack-in deep into Chicago Basin and they were awesome! Traditionally here at CFI we have used horses and mules to help get all of our gear up, but this year we used a combo. A couple days of horses (with Anne Rapp from Rapp Corrals outside Durango. Thanks Anne!!) and another four days packing with the Llamas led by our CFI staff. (rented from Redwood Llamas in Silverton. Thank you Bill!)
Going into it there were quite a few uncertainties, including a bunch of horror stories from people who have worked with llamas before, as well as one or two stories of praise for llamas work ethic. We really had no idea what to expect or what we were getting ourselves into having never worked with these animals before.
After a one hour crash course on all things llama at the Purgatory Flats trailhead we were given the reigns and off into the Weimunche Wilderness for 6 days with our new friends and co-workers.
The best way I can describe a llama is think about a horse meets an elk, meets a camel, with extremely thick wool-like fur and feet like a dinosaur! These guys were pretty silly. (And yes they were all boys. Apparently if you throw a female in the mix tensions get high and things can get crazy…)
Our team or cria herd (a group of llamas) consisted of a mix of old vets Red Hawk, and Waylon, seasoned pros Vance, and Jaffe, and a few rookies new to the game Charlie Boy, Junior (Jaffe’s Son), Grant, and Drake.
All and all everyone performed quite well. There were a couple minor hiccups along the way but ultimately we got the job done and done well!
CFI would like to thank Colorado Parks and Wildlife “State Trails Program” and the National Forest Foundation for the support in funding the Mount Eolus project.