Many Oregonians dream of throwing their belongings in a backpack, getting off the grid and hitting the trail. But what if you love the wilderness but don’t want to carry a heavy pack to experience it? For Monica Drost, the answer was simple: Llamas.
“We couldn’t carry the heavy packs that we needed to carry anymore,” says Drost about her and her hiking friends. So we researched about llamas carrying all our gear.
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Drost found Sherry Halligan, a llama outfitter in Central Oregon. Halligan’s llamas carry up to 65 pounds so that the hikers she leads into the Mount Jefferson Wilderness don’t have to. That means they can haul not just the necessities, but the extra items that can make a trip extra special.
You can bring that extra bottle of wine,” says Halligan, who also routinely loads her llamas up with lawn chairs. “You can bring in a little luxury if you desire.”
Llamas are not only pack animals, they also have a uniquely padded foot with two toes to help them grip slippery or icy terrain. They vary the locations where they graze, known as “browsing,” like deer do, so they don’t leave a toll on the environment. And lucky for Halligan, Drost and others who want to enjoy the view, they also happen to be very quiet.
“This is the life,” says Halligan of her trips into the wilderness. “This is what it’s all about, and this is why I have llamas.”
Want to backpack with llamas? Check out the Central Oregon Llama Association.