BIG WOOLY BACKPACKS | Hiking to camp? No probllama
Few outdoor enthusiasts would argue there’s anything better than an empty trail, good weather and all the amenities, but local Kevin Kaltenbaugh has found a way to make those trips even more enjoyable by getting the weight off his back.
“Once you see what it’s like not having to carry your stuff, it’s very addictive,” he said. “It’s fun to hike with nothing except a camera in your pocket.”
He does this with the help of a herd of pack llamas — 23 to be exact — that he rents out for others to experience through his business Corral Creek Llamas outside Kremmling.
Each of Kaltenbaugh’s llamas have a unique personality, but they all share names starting with the letter “L,” like Linemon, Luscious, Lemon and Leeroy.
There are few limits on where the llamas can go, but Kaltenbaugh has rented them to hunters, fishers, campers, hikers and for weddings.
“Llamas aren’t as intimidating as horses or mules,” he said. “They’re fun and quirky. They’re aloof and eager to learn.”
Beyond being quirky, the llamas at Corral Creek are easy going and aren’t skittish, which makes them good partners for people, whether it be a family camping trip or a hunting group.
For most adventures, Kaltenbaugh gets a feel of what is planned and the group’s experience level to help match them with the right llamas for the job. Each llama can carry up to 60-70 pounds.
Kaltenbaugh rents the llamas for day trips or 10-day excursions, and he recommends two llamas per person to start.
“They like to be with each other; they’re herd animals,” he explained. “You can live decadently with two llamas.”
Before heading out with the llamas, Kaltenbaugh gives any renters a class in handling them and their care. The llamas are low-maintenance, but there are a few keys to keeping them happy and healthy.
Renters will learn how to saddle and pack their llamas for the trip, which is not as intimidating as it sounds, before Kaltenbaugh goes over basic care. The llamas feed themselves on surrounding plants, so renters really only have to ensure the llamas are watered and given rest.
“For people that have done horse trips, the seminar can be 15-20 minutes, but for some, I’ve gone a couple hours,” Kaltenbaugh explained. “The good news is nobody ever fails because we’ll work at it until you get it down.”
Though Kaltenbaugh is not a guide or outfitter, he offers renters to join him on a free trip for extra experience and time getting to know the llamas and their capabilities before they rent.
As an owner of pack llamas for more than two decades, Kaltenbaugh explained that building knowledge and relationships with the llamas broadens the adventures people can have with them, including exploring off-trail, which is Kaltenbaugh’s personal favorite way to camp.
“You can advance with the llamas and go from a mild vacation on a trail to doing a circle of the Flat Tops,” he said.
Regardless of what kind of vacation recreators are looking for, Kaltenbaugh believes it can be made better with the help of his herd.
“They come in with a dream and the llamas help it happen,” he said.
For more, http://www.corralcreekllamas.com.
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