I hope that our days of backpacking aren't over. Before kids we backpacked all over the Wind River Mountains. But our kids (8 and 5) aren't old enough to backpack yet and when they are old enough in a few years - we might just be too old. Right now, using our horses to get into the backcountry seems a pretty good solution, barring any mishaps.
We have one saddle horse, Kino, who is a sweetheart. Our other horse, Arizona, is our packhorse, and can be a bit squirrley. It works like this: Scott and I walk and Laura and Ben take turns riding Kino. Either Scott or I lead Arizona.
On this trip we had two mishaps. The first was on our way back to the trailhead. Kino stepped on our old dog Bud (who is 15). He didn't just step on Bud, Kino was standing on Bud's right hip and had him pinned to the ground for what seemed like an entire minute. We didn't think Bud would ever walk again, much less walk out. But he did walk out, with only a slight limp. We found out later his ACL was injured.
The second mishap also happened on the way home. I was walking down the trail in the lead followed by Laura on Kino. Ben and Scott were walking and Scott was trailing Arizona. Ben was wearing overalls and had to make a mad dash for the bushes ASAP. He couldn't deal with the overalls fast enough by himself so Scott had to hand Arizona off to Laura.
I'll never forget the sight as long as I live. I'm hiking along and I look back up the trail to check on Laura. Here she comes -- riding Kino with reins in one hand and the lead rope for Arizona in her other hand. She looked like she'd been cowboy-ing her whole life, moseying along easy as pie.
It turned out Ben's emergency was a false alarm but you can never be too sure.
|Laura with Arizona, our pack horse.|
|Weaving flowers into Laura's hair is a horse-packing tradition.|
|Eating dinner on the horse panniers - fresh trout.|
|My dad rigged up a leftie fly rod combo for Laura.|
|View from our tent.|