Trailhead Supply Blog / Coffee with Andy

Spring is in the air …

Well we are on the downhill slide to spring. How do I know that, besides a date on a calendar?  There are several surefire ways to tell here at Trailhead Supply.  First, we start receiving boxes of broken straps and saddle parts coming in for repairs. These come in from the customers getting things ready to hit the trails; as the snow melts in various parts of the country.  For those that live more locally they are stopping by, having a cup of coffee, while dropping off complete pack saddles that ended last season, with one last wild ride down some mountain side and are now in need of some much-needed love!!! 

It is also the time of year we start receiving phone calls asking questions about trails and routes around and through the Bob Marshall Wilderness then following up quickly is “Which map should I buy?” As they start planning their big summer adventure.  Then there is always someone asking who is selling a good horse or mule now that winter is over and they don’t have to feed it much longer till it can be turned out.  There is always that internal excitement here at Trailhead Supply of new products we have been working on over those snowy winter days that we are thrilled to unveil and put to use on the trail ourselves… If all else fails I just pour a cup of coffee and look out the front window at Plant Land, our neighbor, here in Kalispell. They have a large yellow sign and everyday they change the numbers to reflect how many more days till spring… I did have some summer planning for myself this week…I put my first pack trip of 2020 on the calendar. Now just to work through some details….

Till next time, See you on the trail.

Andy

PS- If you need a little help dusting off your confidence, or you are gearing up for you first ever pack season we are here to help! There are still spots left in our packing clinics that start February 17th. Click here for details. If that doesn’t work you can always call or stop by. We are happy to walk you through the answers to what you are wondering about.

 

 

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A Good Life...

I’m often asked, why did I give up my corporate job to start Trailhead Supply, with my youngest daughter Sydney? It’s simple, it wasn’t fun!!! I’d work all week just to fly home load up the mules and head off to the middle of nowhere. In today’s language I needed to unplug. I began thinking about that every chance I got If I needed to unplug every weekend, then something was wrong in my life, it wasn’t my passion, my love, my dream of what I wanted to do.  You know what I’m talking about?  It’s rare that you get to get all excited and tell folks about what you do.  It is even more exciting to have people show up at clinics and seminars where you can teach them about your passion.  Mine is packing! And to share that is one of the greatest rewards one can ever receive. Here at Trailhead Supply we are so lucky to be able to share our knowledge of the back country and have people put their trust in our handmade packing equipment…we don’t have the words, other than Thank You!! We try and encourage folks to get out there and make some memories, life is too short, enjoy it to the fullest!!!  Small things become huge things, miles from nowhere…Last Saturday night I shared some damn good whisky with two of my closest friends while sitting under a fir tree in a rain storm. As I sipped that whisky out of my Trailhead Supply coffee cup, I thought to myself life can’t get much better than this…Well when I got home a couple days later, I was sent a video from  some customers who have become friends over the years and this 4 minutes, made me smile…because this is what I teach in all my packing classes. It is supposed to be fun…At times all of us that do this packing thing for a living or build the equipment needed to make everything go up and down the trail…well we need a reminder…It is supposed to be fun. Sit back, relax, enjoy a beverage in that Trailhead Supply coffee cup, and have fun watching folks enjoy the back country as we all should………Thanks Mike, Amanda, and David…Loved every second of your journey.

See you on the trail!

Andy

"A Good Life" Montana Pack Trip 2019 from Amanda Trudell on Vimeo.

 

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Trailering

Tis the season we are all running to this trail head or that trail head, getting as much riding in as we can.   We all take pretty good care of our tack and animals, but what about that big metal can we load all that tack and horse flesh into?  Every time I pull into a trail head, I get out stretch and look around to make sure all is safe to unload the string. You know there is always an unattended dog running loose, an unsupervised horse just wandering around grazing while the owner is  having one more adult beverage before loading up and heading home, or those two stray kids on bikes darting here or there having too much fun and not paying any attention to anything else going on.  While surveying the surroundings I often look at the other trailers parked there to guess how many other trail users I might encounter. While looking over the trailers I am always shocked to see one or two that I’m surprised made it to the trail head. Now my trailer is not beautiful, but its sound. I would love to have a new trailer, the mules would love to have a new trailer (they told me) but it would look just like the one I have now after a year of running all the gravel road in and out from the trail heads. Those gravel road take their toll on trucks and trailers. We have broken axles, leak springs and blown tires. That’s why I can say my trailer is sound it’s all new underneath!!! Take some time and walk around your trailer, check it out inside and out. Check the tires, the summer heat raises the temperature of the asphalt road surface to unbelievable levels, which intern raises your tires air pressure to a point you may start blowing tires. Lift the mats inside and check the floor boards for dry rot. And always check the lights and brakes. If you have someone you really trust have them drive your truck and you ride in the trailer, you’ll be amassed at all the rattles, swinging trailer ties and loose gates you’ll notice. Why would your stock want to ride in there if you find it scary!  When you’re planning the logistics of your trip plan on leaving early or maybe even the evening before when the temperature is cooler, you may be comfortable in the cab of the truck with the AC on but the stock doesn’t have that luxury…

See you on the trail

Andy 

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What’s for Dinner?!?

And just like that summer is here and we are doing whatever we can to get out on the trails. If you are like all of us at Trailhead Supply, you are pushing that weekend every which way to get the most out of it you can. Let it be dragging the horse trailer to work with you on Friday, having your significant other picking you up at the office with the ponies already loaded, and then roaring out of town to get to the trail head before dark.  Two hours later you make it to the trail head, now to unload the stock, set camp up, start packing gear for a very early morning departure…But when do you eat?

It was too early for dinner when you pulled out of town to stop for supper, and who wants to waste 30 plus minutes at a so called fast food place, teaching some kid math and how to give proper change not to mention the parking! The whole parking lot designed for the maximum amount of Mini Coopers it can hold, not duallys and a gooseneck. Dinner is important. In my case for several reasons: first I love to eat, second I pack with a diabetic and we need to keep him in check so we have an uneventful weekend!!!  But what shall we cook? That’s the question… As you can tell if you follow Trailhead Supply on Facebook and on past blogs I cook big meals. Dutch ovens ringed with hot coals, steaks over the fire, you know 5 start white linen … But that’s not always possible. We throw freeze dried into the mix as well, but if you are going to be eating it every meal in the back country, why not have a big meal before you hit the trail?

We are looking to make a list we can share on our website resource page so other can use your already proven recipes, ideas, ect. For fast easy one pot type filling enjoyable meals. So, let us know what ace you have up your sleeve as you gather round your roll-a-table and impress your friends…

See you on the trail.

Andy

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Traveling Light

 As I started packing for that first big pack adventure, I hit my first hurdle that I needed to overcome, lack of space on my trusty stead. It wasn’t so much a weight issue (other than that balance thing) it was the lack of room. There was only so much cool stuff I wanted to take with me, just in case I needed it. How do I cut back on gear but still enjoy somewhat of a comfy camp? Over the years I’ve learn over and over again what I must have, what I would like to have, and that stuff that just needs to stay home…and really I should never have bought!!! I saw a picture posted the other day online. A huge Boy Scout canvas sleeping bag was sitting on top of the pack saddle. That sleeping bag was so big it wouldn’t even fit in the pannier and I know it couldn’t have weighed more than five pounds it was just fluff, but it took half a pack animal.

I drew a moose take several years ago and a buddy wanted to tag along on the hunt. We met at the trail head. He was waiting for me holding the biggest sleeping pad I’ve ever seen to date!!! It was like he rolled up a twin mattress… again half a horse and only five pounds. It seems there is a pattern developing, your sleeping comfort is the main space consuming area to cut back on. I started my back-country adventures back packing. I had a lot of light weight gear which rolled over to my stock packing adventures. Light weight stuffable sleeping bags are a must!! The sleeping pad (which I have) rarely makes an appearance past the trail head. For sleeping comfort I sleep on saddle pads. For lighting it’s a small headlight so I can have both hands free, and minimal extra clothing. The reason I run light even with all my mules? Less work packing them up, and more room for what is important… food!!!

I do pack a lot of perishable food in with me, it’s a luxury I can do since I have ample stock, but rest assured I have some dehydrated food easily accessible in case of an emergency or a day trip out to some remote spot away from base camp. Sydney and I eat a lot of freeze dried. We can tell you the good, and the not so good.  This past Father’s day we tried a new line of freeze dried food out on the market, Peak Refuel. We were so impressed but the product we now carry the full line of Peak meals here at Trailhead Supply.  No matter if we are grilling t-bones or huddled under a tarp boiling water for instant something stop in, the coffee is always on.

See you on the trail.

Andy

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