No drama llamas? Agree 100% with Sarah. O’Reilly and McShane were pros. Stood still like statues when loading or unloading their packs and moved in pace with the geezer couple be it a beaten trail or 45 degree off-trail descent. Never had to worry about being stepped on. Equally adept on snow, boulder and scree fields, granite slab or moving through thick brush and forest.
Readily plunged into streams, albeit this is one terrain scenario llamas have a nasty habit. It’s as if their feet are tickled, an impulse rushing from brain to bowels. They let fly from orifices, peein’ and poopin’. No amount of tugging on their lead ropes dissuaded them from this habit and we gave up trying to do so, felt their A+ behavior in all other respects gave them license to misbehave in this one scenario.
Spitting? As a member of the camelid family, llamas suffer this reputation, but not once in 7 days did we witness any behavior that appeared O’Reilly or McShane were ready to unload a wad. Oh, wait, only once. O’Reilly’s ears went flat and his snout came up when McShane was to far up on his backside when we were pig-tailing the two together. It was a warning, McShane backed off. Pig-tailing, tying the llamas together, is another virtue, which allowed either Sarah or myself to have free hands for photography as we moved along.
What about other folks or critters encountered on the trail? Calm is the word whether folks were on two feet or a bicycle. Horses? Unless equines are used to llamas, it’s a rodeo. At Pioneer Cabin on a beautiful day the place was packed with day-trippers on foot, bike and horses. Three horses grazed peacefully. From long distance, I yelled at the packer as he began saddling his horses if they were familiar with llamas. No problem he assured me as we moved-in. Suddenly, the horses got wind of the llamas. They broke, running top speed with their tails high, dragging saddles beneath them as they headed over the horizon. Critters? One time, the guys stopped on the trail, ears high, mewing. Frozen for several minutes as they cocked their heads around. Picked up a scent of some kind, likely a predator be it a bear, cat or wolf, all denizens of the country we traversed.
Summing up our own communication with O’Reilly and McShane? Felt kinda’ eerie at times, as if these guys were moving us along, all business. Aloof characters. Never once did we have to raise our voice, knee them in the ass or such things. Well trained, perfect packers, easy going. Hell, at trail’s end, we were ready to follow McShane and O’Reilly anywhere. I did wonder if these guys are exceptional, stars of the stable at Wilderness Ridge Trail Llamas?
Next up on our summer 2016 trails agenda relative to making a decision about who is going to carry all the pack weight four our 2017 ‘Home Country Walk About’ is a Sawtooth trail supported by human porters.