Llama learnings

The past week has had bits and pieces of things that arose from llama packing the Muir Trail. So a last few odds and ends before moving back to more typical fare.

  • If you llama pack, make a list of what is in each bag once you first get bags balanced. It speeds things up on later days.
  • Similarly, stuff sacks make that description (and packing) lots easier. We had a green stuff sack with cooking gear, a blue one with towels and shower, a yellow one with power-related stuff, etc.
  • If your llama packs have small end pouches, use them both to easily shift things to get packs in balance but also for things you might want to grab. We had water bottles, first aid kit, and sandles in ours.
  • It seems there are two strategies for keeping llamas from getting poisoned: keep them away from complexes of plants, and let them roam. The first is what we did; the second is only open to private groups with their own llamas and the willingness to chase them down.
  • Probably a bad idea to leave llamas picketed in the same place for several hours unless you are confident there is nothing bad for them to eat.
  • Sure would be nice to have a llama-friendly list of grazing sites. Not enough llama-travel to justify one.
  • Look beyond the first obvious campsite. There is almost always a better one.
  • Take at least one outrageous luxury llama packing. People will be baffled why you use llamas without one.
  • Ovaeasy egg crystals really are good enough to leave eggs at home. Hunt them down.
  • You can never take enough chocolate.
  • Nice big llama-bag-sized bear boxes are tons easier to pack than those black cylindrical her cans. But the black cylinders are great for getting tortillas to last a long time.
  • Dress well if leading llamas-you will be in lots of vacation photos and so might want to look your best.
  • Don’t use water from a lake without an outlet unless your filter can be back flushed.
  • Always check in with a ranger. You never know what good karma might emerge.
  • Gravity feed water filters rock. They last longer if you are careful with what you put in.
  • Don’t crap in campsites. Please. You walked this far in wilderness, a few more steps won’t kill you. On a related note, learn just how deep 6 inches really is.
  • Plan on taking out your used TP. This is getting to be a common rule more easily addressed with planning.
  • Llama jokes are harder to come up with than you would expect.
  • Llamas are not bothered by lightning and thunder. But they will startle if you stumble while close behind them.
  • Solar panels for backpacking work great for iPhones but we had less luck with camera batteries. Try before you hike.
  • Solar panels work well lashed atop llama packs.
  • Obscure convenience:  Muir Trail Ranch has AC power for hikers. Come prepared.
  • Crushed hope: the little store at Muir Trail Ranch has no snacks. It does have gloves, bug stuff and first aid materials.
  • Moleskin without benzoin is basically an invitation for a new blister where the moleskin piled up.
  • Molefoam is a cruel joke.
  • Somebody please make size 12 1/2 boots.
  • If you can, take a chair. If not, take a hammock.
  • Tripods make good gravity-feed filter props when above timberline.
  • Marvel at those on the trail at sunrise or sunset. Did they really come to work that hard?
  • Have at least one mildly absurd food in your resupply. (Ours was Pringles).
  • Plan ahead. You don’t want to make the journey too long when passing through areas where grazing isn’t allowed.

Finally, some lousy llama jokes:

  • What is a religious llama’s favorite off-Broadway play?  Hello Dalai Llama.
  • Where do expectant llama mothers go?  Llama mamas class (Or llama-Lamaze)
  • What does a startled llama see in the mirror? His spitting image.
  • What is a llama’s favorite drink on a hot day?  Llamonade. (No it does not make sense).

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