Another "Goat Aid" Station!
We successfully staffed another "goat aid" station, for the Idaho Mountain Trail Ultra Festival (IMTUF), in mid September. The event is a 100-mile ultra-marathon that begins & ends at Burgdorf Hot Springs, on the Payette National Forest, in Central Idaho.
Our goats packed in all the supplies & materials necessary to provide up to 100 runners with food and basic first aid at the 74 mile mark of this grueling 100-mile trail running event.  We were the only aid station not accessible by road, and therefore we were a critical resource for the runners. This was the 3rd year we have volunteered ourselves (and our goats) to do an aid station for this event.
Fellow goat-packer Harriet Aiken came down from north Idaho with 3 of her goats, and joined our 2 packers and our 2 5-month old packers in training.  Together, we made a formidable crew:    
The forecast called for showers and it did not disappoint. We hiked in 6 miles to our aid station location, unpacked our goats, and quickly set up tarps, high-lined our goats, & gathered firewood before darkness fell, and not a moment too soon. The rain started right at dusk & didn't let up for most of the night:
During the course of the night, over 60 runners plus their pacers stumbled into our aid station, most of them soaking wet, some of them verging on hypothermia. Many of the runners that started the race dropped out prior to our aid station, due to the weather. Luckily, the ones that did make it to our location were met with a warm fire, hot soup cooked on our backpacking stove, and an assortment of high-calorie snacks, all packed in on the backs of our trusty goats. 
Before each runner took off into the dark night, I asked them if they wanted to pose for a photo with the goat of their choice. I posted the photos on the event's Facebook page.  I would like to think the goats cheered the runners up & gave them a little "morale boost" so they could make it to the next aid station, and, ultimately, finish the race. As I always like to say, "It's hard to be in a bad mood around goats!" Big Grin  
Here are a few of the photos I took of these tired but smiling runners...the baby goats were a hit!  Smile
Skippy elicits a priceless smile in the middle of the night...
Ernie doesn't mind the company...
A caffeine boost in the middle of the night always helps to make it to the next aid station!
By morning, the rain had let up. We packed up our aid station supplies, loaded the goats, and hiked the 6 miles back to the trail head. Although we were tired from pulling an "all-nighter," it didn't stop us from enjoying the gorgeous fall colors in Idaho's high country.  
Our tired goats at the end of a long shift:
The runners were so grateful for our help. Many of them told me that the Goat Aid Station was a highlight of the race, a welcome oasis during the long, cold, lonely nighttime hours of their epic running adventure. I left a collection jar at the post-race party, and the Race Directors solicited donations for the North American Packgoat Association.  So we even made a little money to benefit NAPgA.   This was a fun reason to use our packgoats, not to mention such great publicity for goat-packing.  Ultra-marathons and trail runs are becoming more & more popular these days & these events are always looking for volunteers.  I encourage anyone that might be interested in volunteering to offer their services and use their goats for a great cause!
This is so incredibly cool! Great pictures!
Thanks, Nanno!  It was a great experience.  A post-script to this trip report:  The fastest runners finished the 100+mile course in less than 24 hours--a truly remarkable feat, considering there was about 20,000 feet of vertical gain over some of the toughest trails I have ever hiked.  It was a privilege for us (and our goats) to share this time with these world-class athletes!  Smile
I can't even imagine running so fast for so far. I tried to get in on helping with one of these near Leadville but the lady in charge took so long to email me back that I ended up making other plans that weekend. Maybe next year.
I think this kind of thing is great. Its excellent public relations! I'll be looking for ways to make people aware of pack goats, myself.

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