Greetings from La Veta, Colorado!
I finally had a full summer of llama trekking. Sandy and I got to take a long-overdue trip into the mountains with our kids: Andy, a singer/songwriter based out of Nashville but currently on the road on a national tour, blocked out a week of his schedule for the trip, while his sister, Alexa, and her husband Craig came out from New Jersey and made the pack trip a part of a wonderful Colorado vacation. And I’m happy to report that Craig, whose only experience with llamas was the day before his wedding last September*, became, at the conclusion of this traditional Hackbarth training/trekking camp trip, an official llama wrangler. (see some photos here)
My next trip was with my brother-in-law Phil Romig and his son from Golden, Colorado. It was a great four-day outing in breath-taking country. Unfortunately, the weather was nasty--cold with wind and rain--which put a damper on the fishing. We’ll have to try it again next year.
In August I made my second appearance as a volunteer at the Leadville Trail 100, a hundred-mile foot race known as “The Race Across the Sky.” If you are interested in knowing why I or anyone else would want to be a part of this race, Christopher McDougall explains it in his new book “Born to Run.” If you’ve read my book, “Tales of the Trail,” you will already be familiar with the race, but it might be a real eye-opener for you to read about it from McDougall’s perspective. After you read “Born to Run,” I’ll let you in on how I did in this year’s race. :-)
The GALA (Greater Appalachian Llama Association) has asked me to be the keynote speaker and to teach clinics on packing at their annual conference in Ithaca on November 12th, 13th, and 14th. The theme for the conference is “Falling for Lamas,” but since everyone in attendance has already fallen for these amazing animals, what can I tell or show them that they don’t already know? That’s right, absolutely nothing. So we’re going to talk about what can be done to energize the llama industry. I’ll use Gauguin’s painting entitled “Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?” as inspiration for getting some answers to those questions as they relate to the lama industry. Then we’re going to throw around ideas about how we’re going to get there.
I’m looking forward to filling you in on all the conference happenings in my next newsletter. And if you will be at the GALA conference, please attend one or all of my sessions and visit our booth and say hi to Sandy, Alexa and Craig!
President, Sopris Unlimited
*The day before the wedding, Alexa and Craig’s sixty-five guests were treated to a llama picnic lunch hike instead of a rehearsal dinner. Llamas were provided by Larry Lewellyn and Nick Stegeman. After the lunch festivities, half the party returned to the lodge while the other half continued up the trail with llamas and guides for several miles of beautiful hiking. It was really a great experience that was enjoyed by everyone, particularly those from the east coast. (see some photos here)