First multi-day pack trip!
That was quite a trek. Chalk one up for your packgoats! All of your training and their faith in you really paid off.
Goatberries Happen!
Sputnik's pack was a good deal lighter after last night's feast! 

We enjoyed sunshine on our hike back up the valley. The scenery was so beautiful I couldn't stop taking pictures. 

Once we started up the steep part, the goats made the rest of us look bad.

Gayle and Tuvoc: Mountain conquerors! 

Waiting for llamas... again. 

Finn looks dwarfed by that pack! 
Awesome photos, Nanno!  There are some NAPgA 2019 winners in there for sure!  :D
Once you have completed your trip report, I am curious to see what your total/daily mileage/elevation gain was. 
Bravo for Finn, Sputnick, & Petunia!  :heart:
So how did your goats get along with those weird alien creatures, the llamas?

Did you get good pictures of the animals all in one shot for the article?

Did the llamas ever get to run free like the goats did, to graze?

Did Gayle wish to trade Spot in for a wheelbarrow?
I don't drink beer, but if I did, I'd prefer Dos Equis.  Stay thirsty my friends!
Here comes the first llama! 

We picked up the trail at the base of the boulder field, but it branched off in several different directions near the top. Gayle and Tuvoc took the high road, Alexa and Spot took the low road, and my goats and I took the one in the middle. Alexa and Spot met some hikers going the other way. Finn and Sputnik studied them with interest from above.  

We crested the saddle and stopped at the pond on top for an hour or so. Alexa wanted to fish. The sun was warm and the grass was soft. It was the perfect place for a picnic. I unloaded Finn and Sputnik so they could have a proper break. If I hadn't left their brightly-colored saddles on, you'd have a hard time spotting my goats among all the gray and white rocks! 

Sputnik always manages to find a little nook to lie in.  

A bearded dragon goat! 

I haven't seen Gayle's photos yet, so I hope she got a good one of me and Finn. Finn plopped down behind me on the grass, so I leaned back and used his warm, soft belly for a pillow. That's when he curled his head around me, rested his chin on my shoulder, and promptly went to sleep with his cheek against mine. 

After our rest at the pond, Gayle and I headed down the mountain to start setting up camp while Alexa finished fishing. The llamas were going well because they were headed back, so Gayle was able to string them together and lead them by herself. It was the goats that had problems on the steep descent! Sputnik uses a Sopris saddle with a flexible tree, and it isn't always the best at staying put. The steepness of the hillside caused it to inch forward until the cinch worked its way up to a narrower part of his chest. Once that happened, the saddle promptly slid off to one side. Sputnik stopped and waited for me to come back and fix it. I did my best, but the hill was so steep I couldn't find a good spot to readjust the saddle. I would have liked to remove the panniers and start from scratch, but I was afraid if I took them off they would go rolling down the mountainside. So I had to fix the saddle as best I could with the panniers attached, which meant I couldn't tighten the cinch properly. Naturally it happened again... and again... and probably one more time after that... before we reached the bottom. Sputnik was very patient. Every time the saddle slid off, he just stopped and waited for me to go back and fix it. I think many animals would have run off with the turned-over panniers flapping and spilling their contents all over the mountain.

Finn's wooden John Mionczynski saddle stayed centered, but the front edge of the saddle slid up against his shoulder blades and made him a bit sore. This is where I wish goat saddles were made with an upturned front edge like horse saddles. That straight edge can really dig into their shoulders when they're carrying a heavy load down steep terrain.   

All this fiasco meant that Gayle and her llamas got well ahead of me before I reached the valley floor. This was a novel experience and I had the opportunity to stop and take some beautiful photos of her in this breathtaking green valley. I love the creek meandering through it.      
(08-07-2018, 10:43 AM)Charlie Horse Wrote: So how did your goats get along with those weird alien creatures, the llamas?  

Did you get good pictures of the animals all in one shot for the article?

Did the llamas ever get to run free like the goats did, to graze?  

Did Gayle wish to trade Spot in for a wheelbarrow?

1. They got along so-so. The goats mostly ignored the llamas except for the 2-3 times when I had to lead Tuvoc. Finn didn't like having a llama taking up his rightful place behind me and tended to get up in Tuvoc's face or tail. Tuvoc was a goat guardian at one time and didn't think much of goats in general, so he made a lot of ugly faces and walked all over my heels when Finn got too close to him (which was most of the time). The llamas never spooked the goats, but the goats spooked the llamas a few times if we walked behind them. There was only one near-catastrophe when the goats spooked Tuvoc and he got loose. I'll tell that story in the next installment. Wink

2. There are a few in here somewhere. I've got some more to post yet. 

3. Llamas do not run free. The general rule is that a loose llama is a missing llama. If one llama gets free, it might stick around to be with the other llama, but if both llamas go missing, your'e in trouble because they will almost certainly not stick around to be with you. They're much worse than horses in that regard. If you have a bucket of grain to tempt them, maybe they'll come back, but don't count on it. 

4. Probably at some point. Tongue
Gayle and I reunited in the valley and Gayle had me lead Tuvoc down the next steep section. It had some tricky spots on it that required more maneuvering than she she thought she should do with the llamas strung together. The goats had no difficulty crossing a large, steep boulder the size of a dump truck, and they went on ahead of us down the trail. Little did they know that I planned to take Tuvoc around the far side of the boulder. When the goats looked back and didn't see me following them down the rock, they panicked and ran back up to look for me. They came bursting around the boulder just as Tuvoc and I were about to carefully negotiate a series of smaller boulders. Tuvoc spooked and leaped off the rocky hillside, smacking me square between the shoulder blades with his right pannier in the process. I almost lost my balance on the rocks and started to fall as Tuvoc pulled the rope out of my hands. I know I should have held onto him, but I was afraid he was going to pull me right off the edge, so I let go. By some miracle I managed to stay upright, but Tuvoc was trotting down the mountain as fast has his old legs would go and the goats were chasing after him. I called the goats back while Gayle jogged down the trail after Tuvoc. Thankfully it was the old, highly trained llama that had escaped and not the wild, unhandled one. Tuvoc eventually stopped in some thick brush near a creek crossing so he could wait for Spot and that's when Gayle managed to catch hold of his rope.   

We set up camp in the same spot we had used on our way out. I unloaded the goats and Finn and Sputnik immediately crashed while Petunia went straight to eating. 

Finn fell asleep almost at once. 

Then it was Sputnik's turn to fall over. The goats never laid out on their sides at the same time. One always waited for the other to pop up before he flopped over. 

The sun was hot on the hilltop but Petunia found some relief under the rain fly of our tent. 

What a view! 

Spot was tired too. 

Sputnik laid down near Spot. By the third day, Spot was accustomed to the goats and didn't mind them at all. The goats enjoyed hanging out in Spot's picket area that evening and the next morning.  

I don't know how they sleep like this. It looks uncomfortable to lay balanced on a single horn tip. 
I awoke next morning to a heavy feeling in the air and the smell of rain. The sky was low and dark. We packed up camp before breakfast so we could beat a hasty retreat in case it started raining. But the rain held off and Gayle cooked egg and bean burritos for us. 

It drizzled on and off as we headed back to the trailhead. The thick brush on this part of the trail soaked us from the waist down and drenched the panniers from the bottom so that when I got back to my truck, stuff in the top of Finn's panniers was dry while the stuff in the bottom was damp. 

Finn was a little sore starting out. He never objected to being saddled--in fact, he seemed quite eager to the task--but when he started walking I could tell that his back was sore. He was hollowing his back and walking with his hind end crouched low to the ground as if trying to walk out from under his load. I readjusted the saddle and tightened the cinch another notch to keep the load from swaying. It helped, but I could tell Finn was mostly just sore from yesterday's steep descent. I need to find a saddle that fits him better. This one is ok, but it's a little too narrow for Finn's wide frame and it bridges a bit in the middle. 

Sputnik was a champ. He loves having a job and it really showed on this trip. 

The last creek crossing. 

Gayle, me, Alexa. 

We got back to the trailhead and our day's adventures had only just begun. Gayle had driven a huge rig into the parking area and it took us around two hours to figure out how she could get it back out. It wasn't as straightforward as backing onto the highway they way she'd come in and then driving up the road to find a turnaround. No, the highway was closed to vehicles over 35" because of the sharp hairpin turns that started immediately above the trail parking area, and there was no turnaround. Suffice to say, it was extremely fortunate that several cars left the parking area during the two hours we spent trying to figure out how to get her rig out of there. 

By the time we finally got going, all of us were sopping wet and very tired, but it had been a wonderful outing. This was a great first experience at multi-day goat packing for me. The goats seemed to love it too. They never once shied off or walked away when I got out the saddles in the morning--even Finn with his sore back. They stood for saddling and loading without being tied or held. The boys' training is pretty solid and it showed, but Petunia was my little wild card. She's never been a trail goat and knew nothing of trail manners or of her place in line. She would cut in front of the boys, then cut in front of me, then go off-trail for a snack, and she liked to cut switchbacks. Her bad manners tended to make Finn and especially Sputnik forget their training, so I had to do a lot of reminding on this trip. But I feel like if Petunia hadn't been there to lead them astray, Finn and Sputnik's manners would have been pretty impeccable. They were never really bad even with the distraction, and there were only one or two times when I had to remind the boys about staying on-trail for switchbacks regardless of Petunia's antics. It makes me feel good to know that the time spent working on trail manners has paid off so well. I can't wait for our next trip!
Me too! Wanna see the story when published. Another great story. Thanks for the adventure and.the laughs.
Gayle added her photos to Dropbox while I was gone. I love this one. This is why I love goats. Finn laid down right behind me and Sputnik curled up near my feet. I leaned back and used Finn for a pillow so I could have a comfy little nap and Finn curled his head around and rested it on my shoulder so he could have a comfy nap too. It was such a sweet moment. 

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