VOLUME 25, ISSUE 3 / FALL 2014

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VOLUME 25, ISSUE 3 / FALL 2014
VOLUME 25, ISSUE 3 / FALL 2014
VOLUME 25, ISSUE 3 / FALL 2014
1
-CONTENTSTRAINING
RENDEZVOUS
GEAR
ON THE COVER: Sign in Colorado’s
Rocky Mountain National Park;
photo by Dr. Phillip R. Romig III
NAVIGATION
The
Backcountry
Llama
VOLUME 25, ISSUE 3 / FALL 2014
published quarterly
LNT
Alexa Metrick,
Editor/Publisher
The Backcountry Llama
P.O. Box 961
Golden, CO 80402
720-442-0804
[email protected]
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Season -
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Go Local -
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2 THE BACKCOUNTRY LLAMA
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VOLUME 25, ISSUE 3 / FALL 2014
3
-TRAINING TIPThe Training Season
By Kevin Kaltenbaugh
E
very year, after overindulging during the
long cold winter, a
price must be paid. Bulging bellies must be flattened
and firmed and legs of rubber must be made into lean
rawhide once more. Mental
toughness must be addressed,
as most of the battle occurs
between the ears. In addition
to this, the llamas need to get
out and do some work as well.
It seems that over every winter, they tend to forget what
they had been at the end of
hunting season the previous November: all business
and, together, a lean, mean,
well-oiled machine. Herd
dominance issues must be
addressed as they vie to see
who went “over the hill” and
needs a good whoopin’, and
4 THE BACKCOUNTRY LLAMA
confront any grievances over
who said what about who’s
mama around the hay pile
back when it was too cold to
care.
Last year I had these issues
to deal with, as well as three
new additions to my string. I
had picked up three neglected llamas via a rescue service,
all of which were in terrible
shape when I got them. They
were a rough bunch: eight
inches of dread-locked hair,
circular toenails, and questionable training. I took care
of the beauty parlor stuff
quickly and concentrated on
working with the two that the
service had claimed were well
trained and mellow, while
leaving for later the “scary
wild one.” Around-the-house
training did not dissuade me
from using them, as they had
obviously had packs on before. I then made a decision
that I have learned not to
do on many other occasions
(maybe it is not just the llamas
that get dumb over the winter
months!). I decided to take the
two rookies, one youngster
and one wily veteran into the
backcountry for a spring antler hunting trip. They would
go with almost no weight and
it would be a joyful spring
walk in the park (PLAN “A”).
I got going soon after dawn.
There were no trailhead issues to speak of and the trail
was nice, with a gentle downhill grade for a mile. Then
we hit a small creek crossing
that did not go well—nobody’s
neck got stretched too far out
of joint, but it should have
rung the warning bells for a
wily old veteran llama leader
(and would have, had he not
had a bad case of spring fever).
After a bit more downhill on
a trail, it was time for a steep
sage hillside with no trail. Ten
yards up the mile climb, one
of the new guys collapsed…
after only ten stinkin’ YARDS!
This union llama went on
strike and the non-union llamas tried to break the strike,
pulling their packs off in the
effort. Chaos reigned on the
mountain. There was spitting,
there was squealing, there
was growling and gnashing
of teeth (and the llamas made
some noises, too).
I had to separate, re-tether
and re-pack the whole string.
Good thing I got an early start,
continued on page 18
VOLUME 25, ISSUE 3 / FALL 2014
5
The 2014 Pacific Northwest Rendezvous
-FROM THE EDITOR-
I
n many parts of the country, the pack season is
coming to a close—unless you are like Carlton or
Kaltenbaugh and pack in the
snow (their stories on pages 4
and 20). I’d love to hear about
your season’s adventures—
drop me a line at [email protected]
backcountryllama.com
This issue has a little bit of
everything to see you into the
fall: an informative article on
diagnosing and treating lice
infections in your animals, an
update on new developments
in the Leave No Trace effort, a
story on outdoor companies
commited to hiking the hike
and a lesson in dead reckoning from Dr. Romig.
The weather here in Colorado
-LETTERSDoing a great job! Love the new
look.
Lindsay Chandler
Hiya Alexa,
Tom and I enjoyed Ian Harris’s
Dutch Oven Chiles Rellenos,
featured in your recent issue.
We enjoyed ours as a Sunday
breakfast, cooked in a covered
6 THE BACKCOUNTRY LLAMA
cast iron skillet in our kitchen
oven, 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Big Yum Tom says. Chiles
Rellenos has been a favorite at
our Mexican restaurants and
now I’m willing to make our
own. Enjoying your expanding
range of articles as well Alexa,
thank you.
Janet Boyhan
has started to turn crisp and
cool, and it won’t be long before snowflakes start to fall
outside my window as I’m
typing next issue’s letter. So
I’d like to start soliciting gift
ideas for the 2nd annual holiday gift guide from my readers now. Please drop me a line
(at [email protected]
com) and tell me what is at the
top of your wish list this year.
Happy Trails,
Alexa Metrick
T
he 2014 Pacific Northwest Rendezvous was,
for the first time, hosted at the beautiful Hidden
Oaks Llama Ranch outside
of Estacada, Oregon the last
weekend of June. Hidden Oaks
Llama Ranch is a fifty-acre
estate with on-site camping
facilities, hiking trails, creek,
and lots of llamas. Moving the
venue each year does provide varied opportunity for
new experiences and travel,
but does require considerable information gathering and
preparation that doesn’t carry
forward from one year to the
next. Sincere thanks go out to
the people willing to contribute the time and effort to help
promote the working llama
and, especially this year, to
those able to quickly adapt to
changing conditions.
Pack Trial Manageability Tasks
and llama and gear weigh-ins
occurred on Friday, and with
fifteen llamas registered for
Trials, this took some time.
Reporters from the Estacada News and the Oregonian
showed up during the day to
by Scott & Gayle Noga
similarly to a PLTA Pack Trial
except that instead of pass/fail
grading on a fixed length certified course, the llama gets
points for obstacles (based on
difficulty and safe completion)
and distance completed on a
certified course. It’s a more
flexible trial, sort of a hybridization of the Pack Trial and
the Mileage Club. There was
also discussion of a proposed
GeoLlama program—a geocaching program with a twist:
you find the hidden geocache
gather information, as did the treasure or obstacle and take
film crew for the Llama Nation a picture with it and your lladocumentary currently in ma for credit in the program.
production. The Rendezvous
kick-off happened early that Upon return to Hidden Oaks,
evening, and as is normal- people eagerly fed their selfly the case, there was plenty made personal pizzas into
of good food available, with the wood fired-oven and just
potatoes baked in the wood- about finished off the homefired oven and a variety of made root beer. Show-andtell followed, with creative
toppings and side dishes.
creations and new backcounSaturday morning, following try products shared. Scott also
a hearty breakfast, the assem- shared information regardblage relocated itself to the ing the risk of hemorrhagic
nearby Milo McIver Park for diseases in llamas. Time was
the Pack Trials. The llamas did spent around a large campfire
a great job, the weather was and the youth had fun with
nice, and the film crew got the glow sticks and other toys.
more footage.
Sunday was a relatively unstructured day that included
clean-up and packing for the
post-Rendezvous pack trip
in the nearby Mt. Hood Wilderness area. This trip is intended to be a relatively easy
overnight or multi-day pack
experience suitable for less
experienced handlers. Llamas
are provided for those without. This year, eleven people
and eleven llamas spent two
to three days at Twin Lakes.
Two new inflatable rafts
were packed in and a rope
swing was located not far
from camp, so a considerable
amount of time was spent on
the lake.
Thanks go out to the many
participants whose continued
support makes these Rendezvous possible. Stay tuned
for plans for next year. Also,
PLTA Pack Trials this fall at
Cutsforth Park, Oregon are a
possibility if enough interest
is expressed. Let us know by
dropping an email to us at
[email protected]
com.
Afterward, there were
llamas driving the
grounds, a Leave-NoTrace seminar by Debby Langley-Boyer, a
discussion on the PLTA
mileage program by
Carolyn Mathews and
the proposed new PLTA
program (dubbed the
PLTA Challenge) led by
Anne Sheeter. The PLTA
Challenge would work
VOLUME 25, ISSUE 3 / FALL 2014
7
Gear companies go local
-NAVIGATING THE
BACKCOUNTRY-
A new crop of manufacturers try to succeed without selling out
By Krista Langlois
reprinted from the July 21, 2014 issue of High Country News
T
imm Smith has been
in the outdoor gear
industry for a decade
– just long enough to see one
scrappy, independent company after another surrender
to the kind of corporatization
they once scorned. SmartWool apparel may still be
based in Steamboat Springs,
Colorado, but in 2005 it was
bought by Timberland, which
was bought by VF Corporation, which also owns The
North Face and has an investor line-up that reads like a
who’s who of Wall Street. Yoga-and-climbing brand PrAna was recently acquired by
Columbia Sportswear, along
with
Mountain
Hardwear, Sorel
and
Montrail.
Utah-based Black
Diamond, once
peddled from the
back of a car, just
turned a $40-million profit by
selling Gregory
packs to luggage
giant Samsonite.
And so on.
“It seemed to me
that many companies outgrew
what they stood
for,” says Smith,
34. “(The industry)
had become very
much about turning the crank and
running products
on the Asian superhighway.”
So in 2012, a disillusioned
Smith quit his job at GoreTex and moved from urban
Maryland to Pagosa Springs,
Colorado, a town of 1,700 on
the southern flanks of the
San Juan Mountains. He took
a marketing job with an idealistic startup called Voormi,
which pledges to manufacture its outerwear in the U.S.
and buy only Rocky Mountain wool. And though it has
just seven employees so far,
co-founder Dan English hopes
that by headquartering in a
small town, Voormi can help
stem the tide of talent flowing
from the rural to the urban
West. “We wanted to be super
authentic,” English says, of his
move from Boulder to Pagosa.
“There’s no major interstates
here, no major airports. Part
of being an authentic brand
is living the lifestyle that we
preach.”
Voormi and other niche gear
companies – like Duckworth,
a Bozeman-based clothing
brand that buys only Montana
wool, or Meier Skis, a Colorado ski manufacturer that
uses locally harvested aspen
and beetle-kill pine – hope to
leverage that “authenticity”
to compete with far bigger
rivals. They’re banking on the
rise of microbreweries and
farmers’ markets as evidence
that some Americans are willing to pay more for quality
local goods, and they’re already having an impact on
small towns, sheep ranchers
– even machine salesmen. “If
you look at consumer trends,
you’re seeing a return to people caring about the stories
behind things and where the
things they buy come from,”
Smith says. “What happened
with craft beer is an interesting model.”
There’s just one caveat: Outdoor gear ain’t beer, and the
BY Phil Romig JR
we picked up the trail to the
lake.
continued on page 15
Meier Skis employee Chris Dean marks ski sidewalls as he prepares to shape them at the company’s workshop
in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. The small operation produces 500 pairs of skis a year; founder Matt Cudmore
hopes to hit 2,000 annually. photo by Andrew Cullen
8 THE BACKCOUNTRY LLAMA
Dead Reckoning
A
story in the last issue
told about a trip to
“Lost Lake” where we
missed a trail junction and
ended up camping 1,000 feet
directly below the lake. We
had not spent enough time
studying topographic maps
and satellite photos to know
where to expect the junction.
Later that year we decided to
try again, and that time we
did our homework. However,
the planning alone would not
have been enough. The trail
junction was so little used
and overgrown that we would
have missed it again had we
not been tracking our progress on the map. Using dead
reckoning (backed up by GPS),
we were able to determine
where the junction should be
and then search the area till
Today, people ask: “Why not
just export the route to a GPS
receiver and follow it?” When
I was starting to teach geophysical exploration, an experienced old-timer insisted
that we use four-wheel drive
only to get out of trouble. If we
used it routinely and got into
trouble, there would be nothing left to get us out. GPS is
like four-wheel drive: GPS receivers are electronic devices,
subject to failure due to bad
components, dead batteries,
moisture, weak signals and
other problems. If you rely on
them and they fail, you are up
the proverbial creek without
an alternative. GPS receivers
make navigation easy and can
be lifesavers, and the next issue will focus on the use of
GPS technology (just in time
for Christmas). But the primary form of navigation should
be dead reckoning, and GPS
should be the back-up.
Someone once told me that
the term “Dead Reckoning” came from “If you don’t
Reckon right, you will end up
Dead.” Wikipedia© suggests
that the term may have orig-
inated as “Ded” (for deduced)
Reckoning. Regardless of the
origin of the name, the technique has been used by travelers for several thousand
years. It simply means that,
if you know where you started, what direction you have
been traveling, and how far
you have gone, then you can
calculate where you are now.
In the early days, it may have
been as basic as: “Go toward
the setting sun for three days,
then turn right for one day.”
Today, the parameters are
much more precise, and the
challenge is making the measurements and calculations
easy enough to do in the field
and accurate enough to reach
the objective.
Dead reckoning was first used
at sea where there were no
landmarks. One of the earliest
navigational instruments was
a ship’s “log”: a large piece of
wood attached to a cord that
had knots at uniform intervals
was thrown overboard. As the
“sea anchor” (piece of wood)
drifted back and pulled out
the cord, the navigator counted the knots for a fixed period
of time. That was the origin
of the “knot” as a measure of
speed and the “nautical mile”
as a measure of distance. On
land, the “mille passuum”
(“thousand paces” in Latin),
adopted by the Roman legions
for their conquest of Europe,
was the precursor to our mile.
The “pace” (two steps— one
right and one left) still is the
basis for dead reckoning on
hikes or pack trips today and,
for most of us, a thousand
paces is about a mile.
While there have been a variety of techniques for measuring
distance, a single invention
revolutionized direction-finding. The magnetic compass
made it possible to determine
direction even when the stars
or sun were not visible and
enabled travelers to follow
a course, day or night and in
any weather. Everyone on a
backcountry trail should have
two compasses—one for regular use in dead reckoning and
a smaller one in their survival
kit in case the first one is lost
or broken.
Traditionally, dead reckoning requires counting paces
(or using a pedometer) and
watching a compass while
on the trail. Whenever there
is a significant change in dicontinued on page 12
VOLUME 25, ISSUE 3 / FALL 2014
9
Leave No Trace
A
rriving at your favorite
backcountry
destination, you find
that some slob has been there
since you last visited and
trash is scattered everywhere.
You start complaining to your
spouse, kids, traveling companions and even your animals. While they will all help
you clean up the mess in their
own way (the llamas will pack
it out for you), it really does
nothing to prevent it from
happening again. What can
you do, you ask? Well, there
is a new program available
in the US that you can join to
help mitigate the problem.
The Leave No Trace Center
for Outdoor Ethics (www.lnt.
org) gives you many options.
For starters, you can take an
Awareness Workshop from
one of the many LNT trainers
in the US. These workshops
range from thirty minutes to
one day in duration, depending on where they are held
and if they are based out of
a school setting or given in a
more remote setting that requires hiking and participation.
If you find that you are one of
those people who are good
at teaching and want to help
get the word out about LNT,
you can take a Trainer Course.
This will give you the skills
needed to teach the Awareness Workshops in your area
or for your group or company.
The training for this level normally takes two days and may
or may not require travel into
a forest setting.
10 THE BACKCOUNTRY LLAMA
By Richard W. Galloway
Once you have taught a few
Awareness Workshops, given
talks to schools, llama-based
events or at llama Rendezvous, etc., then it might be
time to become a Master LNT
Educator. This will allow you
to teach the Trainer Course
and spread the word about
LNT to even more people. This
is typically a five-day course
and is designed for those who
are very active in the outdoors.
We were the first to take the
Master Educator course with
llamas. While no longer active
due to other calls for our time,
Lynn and I are both certified.
We worked with the Wallowa
Whitman National Forest in
NE Oregon to give many talks
and lead several llama-based
trips into the Eagle Cap Wilderness to conduct Trainer
Courses and Awareness Workshops for LNT.
There is a great publication,
“Leave No Trace Using Llamas
in the Backcountry,” that was
produced jointly by Shirley
Weathers and Bill
Walsh of Rosebud
Llamas in Utah and
the Leave No Trace
Center for Outdoor
Ethics. A copy is
available on the
internet at. www.
lnt.org/sites/default/files/LNTLlamas2004.PDF
An easy way to
approach people
while in the field is
to give them free
information. LNT supplies
handouts and cards that cover
the seven LNT Principles:
1.Plan ahead and prepare
2.Travel and camp on durable
surfaces
3.Dispose of waste properly
4.Leave what you find
5.Minimize campfire impacts
6.Respect wildlife
7.Be considerate of other visitors
We have also given out some
spiffy bright orange plastic spades. These are a good
opener to a discussion about
proper sanitation methods
that need to be observed
while in the wilderness or
backcountry.
I know not everyone wants to
volunteer to spread information, but I look at it this way:
if you spend just a little bit of
your time in the wilderness
talking to other people and
can show just one person,
even over the whole summer,
then there will be less trash
left behind for you or I to pack
out. I am for anything that is
so easy to do and will help our
experience in the wilderness
be better, and I hope you are
as well.
And let’s face it, while llamas are not as unknown as
they used to be, they are still
enough of a conversation
starter that you will be talking
to people while you are out
hiking anyway. They just give
you another opening to educate people about LNT and
allow them to see how they
can help keep the backcountry as pristine as possible for
future generations to enjoy. At
the very least, send people to
the LNT website and let them
think about what the backcountry means to them.
The seven principles can be
seen in greater detail here:
www.lnt.org/learn/7-principles As you will see, they are
things that most of us who
pack with llamas do without
thinking about—we just need
to show others the how and
why and they will follow suit
on their own.
-FROM THE ARCHIVELice on Llamas and Alpacas
by Ashleigh Olds, DVM
reprinted from the BCL archives (Volume 21, Issue 4, Fall 2010)
W
ith winter closing
in, now is a good
time to check
your animals for lice. As the
weather cools off, lice often
invade fleece seeking a warm
hiding spot. Although lice are
very small, they can usually be
seen with the naked eye. They
may appear like a small piece
of dandruff if you part the fiber down to the skin. A bright
light and a small magnifying
glass will help you identify
them, especially as they start
to move when the fiber is disturbed. Detection of lice is
often made at shearing time
and you may only see them
in heavily infested animals. If
you don’t see the little white
or light brown adult lice, you
may notice smaller white eggs
(nits) attached to the fleece
5-10 millimeters above the
skin level. The most common
sites to see eggs are usually
behind the elbows, around
the tail, or on the flanks. Signs
of lice may include rubbing at
the affected area (lice can be
extremely itchy!), excessive
dandruff, and loss of fiber in
patches. Some affected animals may rub their skin raw
in places. A sucking lice infestation may also lead to ane-
50% Methovychlor—all of
which can be purchased over
the counter at many stores.
Treatment can be difficult, as
it must actually reach the lice
through the fleece. The most
effective method of treating a
fully fleeced animal is to wet
the powders and spread the
fiber down to the skin along
the topline to apply the paste
or liquid directly to the skin in
several places.
mia as the lice consume
blood. Anemia can make
camelids more susceptible to hypothermia and
secondary infections.
So how do the lice
spread? Adult lice live
approximately
30-50
days. Lice shed into the
environment and can
live around five days
without a host. Eggs can
take eight to twelve days
to hatch, but the new
lice must have a host
within twelve hours of
hatching to survive. This allows lice to survive and move
from host to host in a variety
of ways. The most common
method of transmission is
shared grooming equipment
or during events with close
body-to-body contact—such
as shows, sales, during mating, transportation or from
dam to cria during nursing. Routine disinfection of
grooming utensils, blankets,
harnesses, trailers, etc. can
help reduce the risks of transmission.
So what should you do if you
do see or suspect lice? The
good news is that lice tend to
be host-specific. This means
that the lice on a llama or alpaca will not necessarily jump
or move to a person or a dog.
The first step in choosing the
correct treatment is to determine what sort of lice you are
dealing with. There are two
main types of lice: chewing
lice and sucking lice. Chewing lice tend to have a broad
blunted head and be slightly larger than sucking lice,
which have a smaller pointed head. If you bring several
adults in to your veterinarian,
examination under a microscope can determine which
you are treating. Treatment
is usually a topical liquid or
dust for chewing lice: 5% Sevin dust, 50% Rose dust, or
In contrast, the treatment
for sucking lice is ivermectin subcutaneously. Treating
chewing lice with ivermectin
is not effective. The life cycle
of both types of lice is such
that two treatments administered two weeks apart is usually sufficient to rid an animal
of infestation. A single treatment is usually ineffective
because it will not target the
eggs, which hatch one to two
weeks later. The second treatment is timed to kill the eggs
before they have had time to
reach maturity and produce
more eggs.
Even if you only notice lice
on one or two animals, it is
best to treat all animals in the
group or herd, as they may all
have a lesser infestation.
VOLUME 25, ISSUE 3 / FALL 2014
11
Dead Reckoning
continued from page 9
rection, stop and convert the
number of paces to the map
scale, correct the direction
for magnetic declination, lay
a straight-edge in the right direction, mark off the distance,
draw the track on the map,
and plot the current location.
In principle, this works well,
but in practice, it is often not
done. Many people don’t have
the skills or are not willing to
invest the time to do it. I’m in
the latter category; once on
the trail, I want to spend time
hiking, not calculating and
drawing.
On recent trips, a different approach has been more effective. Instead of doing the calculations on the trail, they are
done while planning the trip,
and the results are printed
on a map. After the route has
been determined, the steps
are:
1. Put waypoints at “inflection points” (where the route
makes a noticeable change in
direction) in the route.
2. Enter coordinates of the
waypoints in a spreadsheet.
3. Have the spreadsheet calculate distances (in paces)
and compass courses (taking
into account declination) between waypoints.
• Remember that a “pace”
is two steps—one right and
one left.
• If you don’t know your
pace, 5.3 feet (1,000 paces
per mile) is a good guess.
4. Export a copy of the map to
a format that will allow you
to draw and print on it.
• If all else fails, print a hard
12 THE BACKCOUNTRY LLAMA
copy and write on it with an
indelible pen.
• Include the waypoint markers and, if convenient, lines
between the waypoints.
5. For each trail segment between waypoints, print the
compass course and distance
(in paces) on the map.
6. Note any special features
(landmarks) near each waypoint that will help you recognize it and write a description on the back of the map
or separate piece of paper.
With this done in advance,
dead reckoning becomes
quick and easy. At each waypoint, aim the compass in the
direction printed on the map
for the next waypoint, and
walk in that direction. When
you have gone the number of
paces printed on the map, use
the description to verify that
you are at the next waypoint.
If you reach a waypoint where
the landmarks don’t fit, or the
trail on the ground goes north
while the course is west, then
you have a different problem:
figuring out where you are.
That will be the subject of a
future article. If all else fails,
you can backtrack to the previous waypoint and try again.
-CAMP RECIPEWild Blueberry Pancakes
by Laura Higgins
Ingredients:
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons wheat germ
¼ teaspoon salt
2014 Fairplay race results
Men’s division
1. Ryan Haight (31.44)
2. Tanner Kemp (31.54)
3. Jerrod Cooper (34.13)
Womens division
1. Amy Nordhagen (45.46)
2. Aurora Eddington (45.48)
3. Molly Erdle (46.01)
Top three ranches
1. Corral Creek Llamas
2. Lightning Ridge Lllama
3. Corral Creek Llamas
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
½ cup buttermilk
1 ½ teaspoons vegetable oil
¼ cup wild blueberries
Instructions:
At home, mix dry ingredients together in a large Ziplock bag. In camp, add egg, buttermilk, oil and blueberries and mix well; cook
on hot griddle. Serve with maple syrup.
This makes one serving—multiply the recipe for the number of servings you need.
Try substituting bananas when blueberries are not in season.
There are some decent dried buttermilk powders on the market that could be substituted for the fresh buttermilk. Just add it to
the dried ingredients and then add water or regular milk in camp.
For a case history of an actual trip using this method,
with the maps, spreadsheet,
etc., see the webpage associated with this article at www.
thebackcountryllama.com/
RomigDeadReckoning.php. I
hope that will make the process easier to understand and
apply in your own trips.
VOLUME 25, ISSUE 3 / FALL 2014
13
Gear companies go local
-Poisonous PlantLUPINUS (LUPINES):
DEADLY FIELDS OF COLOR
by Shirley A. Weathers, author of Field Guide to Plants Poisonous to Livestock: Western U.S.
Based on the entry for Lupinus spp. and other discussions in Shirley A. Weathers’ Field Guide to Plants Poisonous to Livestock:
Western U.S. For more information, visit to www.rosebudpress.com or see the ad on page 6.
T
hose of us who travel the backcountry
with llamas are almost guaranteed to encounter one of the many species
of Lupines, although these
plants can also be very much
at home in overgrazed pastures. Wherever they grow,
they are a potential matter of
concern.
Lupines are quite easy to
identify throughout the growing season. They are another
good example of the wisdom
of focusing on leaf shape for
identification. The leaves of
all Lupine species, many of
which are toxic, are composed of 5 to 13 thin, lanceshaped leaflets arranged like
wheel spokes around the central connection to the stem.
They may be perennial bushtype plants or smaller annuals growing exclusively from
seed. Mature plants send up
showy, elongated clusters of
blue, purple, white, yellow, or
pink flowers that may reach
from four inches to five feet
high. They are a favorite with
wildflower enthusiasts. The
flower looks like that of any
14 THE BACKCOUNTRY LLAMA
pea plant and the seeds are
initially encased in a pod.
The primary toxins in Lupines
are quinolizidine alkaloids.
These toxins can trigger central nervous system disorders
such as nervousness, depression, twitching muscles, labored breathing, convulsions,
coma, and death. Liver and
gall bladder damage called
“lupinosis” can also occur,
resulting in loss of appetite/
weight, jaundice, depression, lagging behavior, and
photosensization. If cows eat
enough lupine plant matter
during early pregnancy, skeletal deformities called “Crooked Calf Disease” can result.
None of the sources I know of
have specifically referenced
documented camelid poisoning by a Lupine species. However, Lupines and other plants
containing quinolizidine alkaloids have sickened all other
species of ruminants, as well
as horses and humans.
It may be good to digress a
bit and explore the matter of
susceptibility, since it relates
to Lupines but also to many
other toxic plants. I’ve heard
people with knowledge about poisonous plants advise
that this or that
plant ONLY affects
this or that species
of animal, therefore
we needn’t worry
about llamas. But
this kind of thinking is usually based
on something akin
to, “No news is
good news.” In fact,
we just don’t know
that much about
camelid response
to the plants they
confront in the
northern
hemisphere in the short
time since their
reintroduction
just over 100 year ago. [In researching the Field Guide, one
goal was to include as much
information about llamas and
alpacas as possible, since it
is largely absent in most discussions of poisonous plants.
Frankly, without the resources and personal consultation
and support provided so generously by Dr. Murray Fowler,
I wouldn’t have been able to
begin to fill the gap. Without
doubt, Dr. Fowler was one of
the most knowledgeable people about the unique physiology and health and medical
care of camelids. His passing
in May is a tremendous loss
to the llama and alpaca community for so many reasons; it
is one that I feel very deeply.
Thank you for all you did, Dr.
Fowler.]
continued on following page
Resources dealing with poisonous plants that make reference to sheep, cattle, and
goats—camelids’ fellow ruminants—as well as to monogastric horses and swine do so
on the basis of centuries of
experience, augmented by extensive (expensive) research
largely driven by the enormous economic interest in,
and impact of, these species
of livestock. Lacking a similar
knowledge base for camelids
does not justify dismissal of
risk. Under the circumstances, the best rule of thumb for
the foreseeable future seems
to be a cautious approach to
plants that are known to harm
other species.
All plant parts of toxic Lupine
species are poisonous, although the seeds, produced
from early summer to fall,
are the most damaging. A lethal amount of seeds for a
sheep is said to be 0.25-0.5% of
body weight consumed over
a short period of time. There
is no known antidote. A sickened animal should be removed from the plant source,
protected from stress, and
provided with symptomatic,
supportive care to increase
chances of recovery. Fortunately, alkaloids give plants a
bitter taste, tending to deter
animals from eating them unless their access to safe alternatives is limited in some way.
As is often the case, awareness and good management
are the keys to avoiding and
responding to Lupine poisoning.
very isolation and rugged
terrain that allow Voormi’s
testers to head straight out
the door and into the mountains has caused other companies to go under entirely
– or outgrow and abandon
their rural birthplaces. “Made
in (small-town) Colorado” is a
great marketing strategy for
breaking into the $120 billiona-year outdoor industry. But
can it sustain a business for
the long haul?
On a cloudy June morning in
Glenwood Springs, Colorado,
Matt Cudmore’s 7-year-old
twin boys are playing videogames while waiting for summer camp to start. A room
away, 23-year-old Chris Dean
shapes ski patterns from aspen boards and blasts Damien
Marley tunes. Dean is one of
four employees at Meier Skis,
the company Cudmore started in his garage five years ago
with $1,000 inherited from his
grandmother. His first pair of
alpine skis took six months to
create; now, with the help of
some new tools and an investor, he’s making 500 pairs a
year in a small factory outside
town. He says he’ll relax when
he hits 2,000.
“The guys at Lowe’s are like,
‘Matt, dude, I want to live the
dream like you’re doing.’ “ He
laughs. “What, you want to
work till 10 o’clock every night
and get allergies from epoxy?”
What he’s saying is: Making skis isn’t as romantic as
it sounds. Cudmore hits the
slopes less often now than
before starting Meier Skis,
continued from page 8
and though sales have doubled annually, he lives in fear
that the business into which
he’s poured everything could
go belly-up. “Don’t get me
wrong,” he says. “I love what
I do. But it’s not like slapping
sandwiches together. That’s
why we’re pushing our story.”
Cudmore hopes his story will
distinguish Meier from the
dozens of other outdoor companies that have come and
gone from Western towns like
Glenwood. The allure of living where you play has long
drawn outdoor businesses to
the rural West, and an anti-establishment, entrepreneurial spirit – combined with a
lack of jobs – may be why so
many gear companies begin
here. There are other benefits,
too: Sometimes small towns
come equipped with an eager,
low-cost workforce, like the
skilled Navajo workers who
once sewed Osprey Packs in
Cortez, Colorado, or the tightknit group that made sandals
“with love” at the Chaco factory a few hours north in Paonia (HCN’s hometown).
One of those employees was
Dave Shishim, who in 2001
moved from Kansas to western Colorado to take a job at
a small airport. One day, Chaco founder Mark Paigen was
waiting for a flight and the
two got to talking. Shishim
was hooked. Before long, he’d
invested in the sandal company and upended his life (again)
to become its customer service manager in Paonia. “I
was enamored,” he says. “We
had an extremely dedicated
local workforce, you could
ride your bike to work, the
product was made in the U.S.
… It was utopian.”
But as his business grew, Paigen – a river guide who began
making sandals in his garage –
found utopia lacking. “I loved
living there, but it was not an
easy place to run a business,”
he says. “There were huge
challenges in recruitment and
logistics.”
For one thing, manufacturing
in Paonia meant adding an extra $10 to $15 per pair to sandals that were already more
expensive than their foreign-made competition. And
there were other problems.
So in 2008, Chaco joined the
99 percent of American-brand
shoes now made overseas and
began outsourcing to China. A year later, Paigen sold
the company to Wolverine
Worldwide, which also owns
Merrell and Keds, and its Paonia headquarters were shuttered permanently. A hundred
workers lost their jobs. Many
more in the town of 1,600 felt
betrayed.
Shishim is now back to working at the airport, and Paonia
gets by on agriculture and a
shrinking coal-mining economy. Yet making it work in
a small town isn’t impossible. Some Colorado companies, like Scott Fly Rods in
Montrose, have succeeded
by making a product so specialized it can’t (yet) be outcontinued on page 16
VOLUME 25, ISSUE 3 / FALL 2014
15
Gear companies go local
continued from page 15
sourced. Others, like Melanzana – which has been making
super-soft fleece sweatshirts
in Leadville for 20 years –
simply reject the “grow-atall-costs” philosophy. As if to
flaunt its stubborn independence, Melanzana is named for
the Italian word for eggplant,
because according to the
company’s website, the vegetable represents “the exact
opposite of every ultra-cool
outdoor clothing company
named for an exotic mountain
locale, imposing rock face, or
ancient Tibetan rite.”
Founder Fritz Howard isn’t
making a killing by sourcing,
sewing and distributing under one roof in a high-altitude
16 THE BACKCOUNTRY LLAMA
old mining town, but that’s OK
with him – and with Melanzana’s loyal following, who see it
as one of the few brands that
haven’t sold out. “We’re authentic without having to say
we are,” Howard says. “I just
wanted to live in a mountain
town and do my own thing,
really.”
Five hours southwest in the
town of Cortez, Osprey Packs
has managed to compete
globally while remaining locally rooted. Mike Pfotenhauer moved the company
from California to Colorado
in the early ‘90s, but by 2003
it had outgrown those digs,
and Pfotenhauer began outsourcing manufacturing to Vi-
etnam. The company’s design
hub is now in Marin County,
California – which offers a
larger creative pool – and it’ll
soon move distribution to Salt
Lake City to be on the national
railroad network and reduce
Osprey’s carbon footprint.
But Pfotenhauer remains
committed to Cortez. The
company employs about 75
people in the town of 8,500,
and he and his wife just moved
back there. And though he’s
had plenty of offers to sell,
Pfotenhauer has turned each
one down. “I think we remain
strong by remaining independent of the typical corporate system,” he says. “You
have to be wary of opportuni-
ties from the outside.”
Paigen, however, has a different take. Today he lives
outside Boston, where he
has launched a proudly
Made-in-America menswear
line called Osmium. But he
cautions that while the gear
industry – and market – may
be ripe for a made-locally movement, finding the
sweet spot between idealism and success is easier said
than done. “When growth is
knocking at your door,” he
reflects, “it’s not as simple as
just saying no.”
This article was originally published in High Country News (hcn.
org). The author is solely responsible for the content.
plta news
C
hange is coming to the
Pack Llama Trial Association. It has been
over seven years since a few
of us took on the task of resurrecting the organization. We
knew we had big shoes to fill
and hard work ahead of us but
felt the PLTA was too valuable
to let die. We polled members
to see what they wanted from
their organization and in response we added insurance,
new trial levels, a mileage
program, and tried to simplify
paperwork.
Despite our efforts, over the
last few years, membership
has remained fairly stagnant
as has the number of trials being held throughout the coun-
By Nancy Hester
school” to go and we are in
the process of turning the
organization over to the new
Board. The remaining directors will be joined by Gayle
Noga and Deb Langley-Boyer.
I hear they have many changes in store for the PLTA and
it is our hope that they will
be able to build on what has
come before them and turn it
into a thriving organization.
try. Certifying seems to be
inconsistent and it is a continual struggle to find and keep
Board members and volunteers. The call to fold the PLTA
has been raised frequently at
our BOD meetings but we’d
rally and try harder or, more
likely, be too stubborn to give
up. No more. Burn out has finally taken its toll and three of
the six current directors have
decided to leave. Laura Higgins
and I are the last of the “old
On a personal note, I will
always be grateful for the
friendships and opportunities
that being a part of the PLTA
has brought to me. Perhaps
we’ll meet out on the trail…
Nancy Hester
Outgoing PLTA President
VOLUME 25, ISSUE 3 / FALL 2014
17
The Training Season
continued from page 4
because, five minutes and fifteen yards later, I was in exactly the same position. I cut
out the new llama that was
the source of all my problems,
dug out a corkscrew from the
packs, and tethered him next
to the creek to be picked up
on the way home in a couple
of days—not an ideal solution,
but I was getting frustrated,
mostly because I was coming
to the realization that I was
dumb and had bit off more
than I could chew.
With the trouble left behind
me, I headed up the hill with
no worries and a song in my
heart. Fifty yards up the steep
hill, the second new llama
collapsed with all kinds of
gurgling noised coming from
deep in his chest. This was not
good, and the song in my heart
turned into a funeral march.
I had already re-packed the
loads a dozen times on that
steep mile of trail, which
has got to be a record for a
four-llama string. It was time
to address the real problem:
my stupidity (or as Clint would
say, “a man’s got to know his
limitations”). I realized mine
and beat feet into a hasty retreat, back to trailhead, back
to truck, back to home, back
to pasture… (PLAN B!)
Back at home, I loaded up
two proven performers and
one second year trainee—a
much more workable mix. It
was now mid-day, and very
hot for a steep uphill climb.
I had to stop frequently on
the spit-soaked hillside, but
18 THE BACKCOUNTRY LLAMA
we had no serious issues. We
topped out and dropped over
a saddle and down into a timbered hillside. The last time
I had been there I had followed a nice elk trail through
a half-mile of timber before
popping out on a gentle sage
hill that ran down to a river.
In my joyful heart, I planned
on setting up a lovely camp
by a large creek. I started
into the timber and, in twenty-five yards, was screwed. The
beetle-killed timber had fallen
over en-mass and was like the
old game of pick-up sticks for
the entire half-mile, only the
“sticks” were forty-five feet long
and stacked helter-skelter five
feet high. After an hour and a
half of many dead ends, turn
arounds, and a bit of crashing and leaping (sometimes
followed by a dead end or
turn around soon thereafter), we came out in paradise:
an open sage hillside with a
wet-weather spring. I felt like
John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn fell off his horse while
drunk and said, “We’ll camp
here…”
It had been a long day for the
llama leader, and if they could
talk I bet the string was not
very impressed with my leadership, either. Good thing we
weren’t running a democratic camp; I’m not sure I would
have even gotten the dog’s
vote, and he hadn’t even had
to carry a pack through that
crap.
I guess my youngster had insulted my caboose llama over
the winter, because they were
constantly at odds. I kept
them separate in the string for
this reason, which meant that
I had to lead with my youngster, as he could cause way
too many problems if in the
tail position. He was a pistol,
wanting to lead and not follow, stepping on my Achilles
about a million times on the
way in. I had found enough
antlers that it was going to be
a very full load for the three
llamas on the way out. After
four days, I packed up to head
home. I left a stash of old antlers in camp for another day
and headed up to the blowdown timber with heavily
loaded animals. What could
go wrong?
Well just about everything, not
surprisingly! Landa wanted a
piece of Leo, with Lefty getting caught in between. There
was enough overspray alone
to drench the ruggedly handsome llama leader’s hat and
neck. I decided right about
then that a trip to the vet (to
have two problems removed)
was in Landa’s summer schedule. Now, the overspray may
have helped my odor after four
days of hard hiking, but it did
nothing to cheer me up. We
hit the section of timber and
I could not find my way back
the way we had come—it was
a bit too serpentine and vague.
No worries, I thought. It was
such a terrible route that I will
ad lib and do better this time…
Three hours and only a halfmile later, I could see where
I wanted to go—fifty yards
away—but was blocked by a
tree top in front and two fivefoot-tall trunks on either side. I
tethered Landa to a trunk separately where he couldn’t start
a fight and got out my little
bow saw to hack through the
tree top. I was desperate to be
out of the maze. Just as I finished up, Landa launched over
the trunk he was tied to and
hit the end of his rope in midair, causing him to summersault and land upside-down
on the other side of the log. He
landed on top of the antlers on
his back, flopping like a skewered carp. I thought he would
die right in front of me so I cut
his rope, and he bounced to
his feet and spit on the log to
teach it a lesson. I checked him
over—he was unscathed after
leaping five feet high from a
standing start while wearing a
seventy-five-pound pack. Not
a very bright llama, but what
an athlete! I got the other
boys through the branches,
re-assembled my string and
continued, without further incident, the final three miles to
the trailer.
Usually I go an entire summer without this number of
incompetent blunders, but an
eventless trip to a tree-lined
lake in beautiful weather and
catching one trout after another while watching mountain goats ogling my white
llamas doesn’t make a very interesting story. Wait—or does
it? Maybe I should look into
that for my next story.
VOLUME 25, ISSUE 3 / FALL 2014
19
The Reason I Hunt
By Gary Carlton of Comanche Creek Llamas
er along the ridge looking for
a meal before settling into its
den; no elk would be seen on
this day.
As I made my way back to camp
later on that morning, the sun
had warmed the crisp mountain air to a comfortable fifteen
or twenty degrees and a beautiful day was in full swing. The
birds were out singing as the
gentle tones of the river below
sent all of my aches and pains
flowing away. The smell of
wood smoke sent a cold tingle
down my spine; I knew warm
hands and a hot meal were only
moments ahead. After settling
in for a brief afternoon nap, my
mind and body were recharged
and ready for the evening hunt.
T
he faint tones of orange and grey in the
eastern sky hold the
signs of the first morning
light. I was perched a hundred
feet or so off the valley floor
at the head of a long gulch
in mid-November; the thermometer back at camp read
a brisk twelve to fourteen degrees below zero when I had
left the warmth of my tent an
hour before.
my arrival on this earth and
its grand trunk and large roots
extending a foot above the
ground made for a fine seat and
a good windbreak from the stiff
breeze that was blowing from
the northwest. The ten inches
of snow on the ground made
everything visible in the early
morning light. I would remain
here for several hours until my
frozen hands and feet could
take it no more.
I was sitting at the base of a
large tree that a friend and I
had nicknamed “Hawks Roost.”
Its limbs and top had been taken by fire many years before
As the day progressed and the
sun begin to rise, I watched a
half-dozen doe deer and a large
buck feed their way through
the valley and a coyote scamp-
20 THE BACKCOUNTRY LLAMA
After several days of slowly
walking the rims of the seemingly endless mountain valley that I have adopted as my
temporary home, my thought
process begins to take on a
less intelligible form, changing
to one more of basic necessity,
keeping warm, getting enough
to drink and eat and having
enough rest. I become less of
would not find another bull
elk on that trip and have since
given a lot of thought to what
makes a hunt a success.
an intruder and start to simply
co-exist with my surroundings.
Although I am still the hunter, I
am acting more and more like
the hunted; keeping the wind
in my face, the shadows at my
back, and using the foliage cover to move within the forest. I
am giving less thought about
the time, and concentrating
more on the time of day as to
how I will travel within the timber.
The next day and a half brought
in a large storm from the west,
laying down another six to
eight inches of snow on the
ground and, with its passing, I
find myself in what would end
up being the right place at the
right time. The clouds begin to
part, giving way to a deep blue
sky and a bright warm sun that
had not been seen in two days.
A celebration begin to erupt in
the forest. The squirrels were
chattering and telling of the
news, and one by one the animals of the valley stretched
their legs and were coming
out to feed. As the crows were
circling above, the first two elk
came into my view.
They were five or six hundred
yards down the ridge and moving out into the open meadow
to feed on the tips of bunch
grass that were sticking up
through the newly fallen snow
that covered like a blanket. I
could see more elk just inside
the timber’s edge and I decided
to move down the ridge in their
direction for a closer look.
brace for a shot, when suddenly the wind changed directions,
blowing straight at the elk from
my position. The cows begin
circling with their nose in the
air. Knowing something was
wrong, the bull shot forward
like a freight train. He disappeared into the timber before
I could even release the safety
from my rifle, and in just a moment’s notice the opportunity
was gone.
I sat there for a while, thinking
about what had happened as
the sun faded over the mountaintop. Darkness began to take
over the valley and the day was
quickly fading into history. I
I miss the bone-chilling cold
stinging my face like a million
bees and splitting wood at my
camp for a fire. The llamas kushed around my camp site contently chewing their cud as if
they had lived there forever.
The lonely whistle of the wind
passing through the leafless
trees. The chipmunk, who has
a way of showing up at dinnertime for a hand out. The thrill
of setting up the camp and the
sadness of taking it down at the
end of the season.
All of the soul-searching you
do while days alone in the field
and the things you learn about
in the process of day dreaming
about things that matter little
anywhere else in the world, and
I realize that taking an animal is
only a small part of the reason
I hunt...
As I worked my way out of the
timber, about a hundred yards
from where I had last seen the
elk, I noticed five more were
out in the open, three of which
were very close. One of them
was a fine bull with five points
on one side and six on the other. His horns were almost black
in color with ivory white tips.
He had a very shiny, light tan
body, making him almost translucent against the snow in the
bright afternoon sun.
I settled in next to a tree to
continued on following page
VOLUME 25, ISSUE 3 / FALL 2014
21
-OUTFITTER PROFILELorene Grassick of Highland Llama Trekkers in Grass Valley, California
Online at www.llamapacker.net
T
he year was 1993, and
I was retiring from
teaching junior high
mathematics and natural history. I had spent years
backpacking the high wilderness trails of the Sierra
Nevada with my children
and grandchildren, but
backpacking wasn’t an
option for an upcoming
week-long trip into Oregon’s Jefferson Wilderness
with my youngest grandson. He was enthralled
with all of the natural
wonders, eager to learn
everything, but was unable to carry ten pounds
without complaining. A
llama was needed, I decided. There was no Internet
back then, and a trained
pack llama was not to be
found. Experienced with
horses, I bought one gelding llama, then two more,
22 THE BACKCOUNTRY LLAMA
and spent the first six months of
the year day hiking and training them and learning about
llama saddles and panniers.
My first trip with the three
newly trained geldings was
eight days in the Hoover Wilderness—an experience that
taught me how critical balancing the weight in panniers
is, how to avoid Death Camas
plants hidden in meadows,
how necessary it is to carry
charcoal for poisoning emergencies, and how stoic and
faithful llamas can be. Delighted with the prospect of hiking
without carrying any weight
and newly retired, I decided
to declare this a business enterprise and went in search of
more llamas.
Nine years ago, after years of
breeding, raising and training
llamas, my dream of owning
a pack string of male llamas
raised and trained from birth
became a reality. Last year,
all of my llamas three years
old and older were screened
as “Ccara.” I was extremely
pleased, feeling that my evaluation of worthy breeding candidates and careful selective
breeding had been verified.
Two to seven crias each year
give us the chance to love and
enjoy their delightful, friendly
personalities.
VOLUME 25, ISSUE 3 / FALL 2014
23
classified ads
Burgundy Deluxe Flaming Star Pack
System with added rain fly and rump
strap. Used once. $350.00. 360-460-7477
The Backcountry Llama
P.O. Box 961
Golden, CO 80402
Change Service Requested
Two simple training packs, one in red one
blue. Lightly used. $50/each or $80 for
both. 360-460-7477
On The Trail
24 THE BACKCOUNTRY LLAMA
fall hunting trip with Gary Carlton
photo by Kevin Kaltenbaugh
PRSRT STD
U.S. POSTAGE
PAID
GOLDEN CO
PERMIT NO. 163

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