Trailhead Supply Blog / Coffee with Andy

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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Let Go of the Rope!

It’s that time of year where here at Trailhead Supply, we try and juggle the best we can in our shop. The balancing of building all the new deckers, that are on order, and the repairing of all the tack that gets tore up on those early season trips, along with making time for a little fun out on the trail for ourselves.  It’s not always the new guy that is having the wrecks. More times than not it’s the veteran packer a little too confident or it could be just adding a new animal in the string. Even just changing the order of your pack stock might be enough to get some wild stories to tell around the campfire.  But here is the bottom line, take care of number one!!! I tell every pack class I teach; you have to take care of number one, and you are number one. Its simple really If you get hurt you can’t fix the problem. And there may not be someone around to patch you back together and go for help. Now don’t go running out and buy a personal locator just because I said take care of number one. Fix the problem before you need that electronic device. You see a saddle leaning; stop and fix it. Something is rattling and the stock isn’t happy; stop and fix it. One of the animals is crow hopping every few hundred yards, He’s trying to tell you something isn’t right, stop, pull the saddle and find out what isn’t right before you get a helicopter ride out.

 

Here is the best advice I can give you… when the shit hits the fan and all hell breaks loose, let go of the rope. This is not the time to cowboy up, this is not the time to let pride take control, just let go of that lead rope. When the dust settles, you’ll be fine and you will be able to pick up the pieces and start over. Camp is not going anywhere, and dinner can always be heated back up.

Be safe and have a fun and memorable (good memories) packing season…

Let us know how we can help you get out on the trail,

Andy

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Back in the Saddle

The snow is melting, the trail crews are back at it, and you have got new shoes nailed on the ponies, you’re ready!!! As you are loading your tack back into the trailer after a way too long winter, you look at your old saddle, wishing you had the cash to go buy a new one. Since you didn’t win the lottery it looks like its going to be another year in the old trusted saddle. It’s only your first trip out and you’re already hobbling back to work on Monday morning… Something needs to be done about your saddle situation. Again, you know you can’t afford the new one you want and those cheaper ones out there are junk, and you know you’re better off sticking with what you have. Now that you have decided to stick with the old tried and true saddle, there is a couple thinks you can do to improve your comfort. Let’s start with stirrups… We’ve all been told and or read over the years, that at the end of the ride if your butts sore your stirrup leathers are adjusted to long and if your knees are sore then you have things adjusted to short.  Well that’s true to a point, but the angle those stirrup sit at makes a HUGE difference!!! I started riding slanted aluminum stirrups several years ago, they have made my life so much better. This style of stirrup takes the pressure off my knees. I can ride all day long and I no longer have to take my right foot out of the stirrup and swing it around to get blood flowing again, It’s sooooo nice. The right stirrups not only helps your knees they will improve your posture as you ride which in turn helps the rest of your body.

There are a ton of different stirrups on the market, made out of everything from copper to plastic and in every shape and size, find a set that is comfortable and works for you. While you are switching stirrups look at those saddle strings. If they are short, broken, chewed off by a deer looking for salt or you never had them to start with, get some new long ones.  Tying stuff up and out of the way or not having to hold that jacket after it warms up. Finally look into getting some horn bags to put your extra belongings in. To start with the access is way easier to get into since they are in front of you than behind you like saddle bags and its better for your animal by splitting the weight between the shoulders and having all that weight located directly above their kidneys.  When looking at saddle bags, they are now sewing them with a curve to them, which throws the bags forward of the saddle giving the rider more room in the seat. That old saddle really isn’t that bad, just give it a helping hand.

See you on the trail

Andy

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