Trailhead Supply Blog / Thoughts

Crotchety…

Today I was placed into an elite group…I was referred to as crotchety, (an old packer) Well if their Webster dictionary defines crotchety as “Been bucked off, stepped on, rolled a saddle, lost a horse in the middle of the night, but found him, built or repaired tack out of bailing twine, pulled a pack string all night in the driving rain to be on time to start in the morning, figured stuff out all by yourself, would rather ride by myself than a head to tail ride with lots of people, loves sitting by a campfire alone, has a more meaningful conversation with a mule than most folks you know.”…Well I guess I’m crotchety!!! It’s the little things that drives me nuts, like putting manty ropes away. I teach pack classes, from small groups at our store Trailhead Supply and to large groups with standing room only at sportsman expos. At some point during my demonstration I always show everyone how “I” put away my ropes. Then after I’m done and trying to pick up, to clear the stage for the next presenter people always offer to help…I say thanks but I got it. They insist, So I show them one more time how to put the ropes away. I even explain to them again the reason I want the ropes put away like this. And they still mess it up!!! Oh my God… I am crotchety!!! Take my son in law… Well before he was my son in law he tagged along on a trip. At the end of the trip he asked how I would like the pack saddles put away. That’s a great start, he asked!! So, I showed him, he went off and pulled saddles. Wow that was great, the kid may have found a keeper I thought, till I saddled the next time. He untied the latigos on the offside, opposite from me, so as I saddled the next time I had to walk around each and every horse to saddle it. He now does it right!!! My way… All old packers have been called more adjectives than just crotchety, but there is a reason they do what they do. Every time they pull a rope, fold a manty, or cuss a good mule there was a real-life lesson learned in the past that has brought them to the trail they are on today. If you want to learn, ask them. They will be happy to teach you, just remember all real packers are always right…

See you on the trail. Andy

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A Family or ….Two

We all have a family, whether we want to claim them or not is another issue. Your family starts with a biological set of parents, does it? Life starts with a set of biological parents a family starts with love!!! I was asked the other day does your whole family pack? (Which is a commonly asked question.) Then later that day I went to a very dear friend’s birthday party. Bud was celebrating his 74th trip around the sun. I pack with Bud every chance I get. I help Bud put up his hay, work around his place, care for his animals and he does the same for me, like family would. At some point during the celebration my son in law, calls everyone together and makes a toast. As he held his glass up and said a few very fitting words, he included thoughts and words about packing, friendship, and family. The next morning I was having coffee. I then phoned the gentlemen back who asked me just the day before, if my family packed. I asked him which family was he referring too?? The folks who raised me, the kids I raised, the wife I love and share all the joys and tears of life with? Or was he asking about my packing family…The handful of friends you share the campfire with on a cold rainy night. The one you risk your life with untangling a string of mules on a rocky cliff edge. The ones you ride out with in the dark so you can make it back to the family at home that has been feeding the animals and keeping life running normal at the ranch while keeping dinner warm until you safely arrive back home. As I poured another cup, I heard him say…So, you really have one big happy family and some do pack….I said “Yes, I do!!” Family doesn’t mean blood it means love.
See you on the trail.
Andy

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It's Supposed to be Fun!!!

There are those days I sit back and just shake my head… I hear these stories of pack trips and trail rides that just make you pour another cup of coffee, stare at the one telling you the play by play, and sit in disbelief. You can’t even bring yourself to ask “What in the hell were you thinking?” At Trailhead Supply, not only do we ride the trails, we are in constant communication with land managers, trying to keep up on trail conditions to give the most real-time updates as possible. This summer it has been tough due to fires and trail closures. Trails that should have been open months ago and cleared, have not even been looked at since the Forest Service has taken the trail crews and shuffled them over to fires.  Without fail every Monday morning I get the highlight real from the past weekend; this Monday was no exception.  These two guys have been planning their big summer adventure for months. As time grew near there was discussion of final travel routes and campsites. Then the Forest Service closed their trail of choice for safety reasons due to fire.  As these two shifted into panic mode in search for a plan B at the eleventh hour, they kept always coming back to that one lake.  I tried to tell them bad plan, the trail isn’t cut open. Multiple Trailhead Supply customers have tried, but fallen short and have fell prey to downed trees and deep river crossings, and had to turn back.  They just couldn’t let go of their vision of large hard fighting west slope cutthroat, screaming line from their reels at the speed of sound.  So, despite all the stories, facts, and reports, off they went. They loaded the pack animals and headed down the trail. They made it 6 miles when the trail gave way and the lead saddle horse rolled down a 200-foot side hill.  After hours of work they reunited the big banged up bay horse with the rest of the string…They would not let this minor setback take away anymore fishing time…They pushed on.  Trying to jump large wilderness blow downs they rolled a pack saddle, then another.  Too tired to go on, they remembered what I tell all those attending pack clinics I teach. Remember this is supposed to be fun!!! They looked at each other and decided a cold beer at the burger place down the road from the trail head would be great.  Seven hours into their week-long wilderness pack trip they were on their way home.  A little beat up, but alive. Time to start planning the next trip...Uneventful trips don’t have near the memories…

See you on the trail.

Andy

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What’s with your cup???

We all have that favorite cup, you know the one you always reach for to pour that morning cup of coffee.  We all have the ones the kids made in school or bible camp some felt pen drawings and scribbles on them. The one mom gave you from her last trip to Disney world. They mean a lot but you don’t use them, they just sit in the cabinet. But there’s that one you use every day washed or not. What is the story behind that cup??  Why that cup???  Even here at Trailhead Supply the regulars come in and every time they grab the same cup off the hook… Some have brought their own cup in and use it religiously. The cup that gets used in all of our Coffee with Andy photos, is all bent on one side…I was hobbling “Chop,” my half draft mare, she was going to graze with the mules. I was going to enjoy a hot cup of coffee right off the fire and watch a breath-taking sunrise till she put her #3 shoe on my cup, then applied all 1450 pounds of her delicate girlish figure. So much for the coffee, but the sunrise was grand.  I have a cup I found hanging on a tree branch riding down Youngs Creek in the Bob Marshall Wilderness on my wife’s first pack trip.  The last ten years of my grandfather’s life he called me every morning at 6am sharp, so we can have coffee together via telephone every morning.  He drank his coffee every morning in a Yuban coffee cup…I still have that cup.  There is more to that cup of coffee…there’s the cup and the memories. Take the time have another cup and make some memories. The memories share and the cup your holding may live longer than you….

See you on the trail.

Andy

Coffee with Andy by Trailhead Supply a blog about your favorite coffee cup.

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Pack Smart

Every time I teach a pack class or put on a clinic I’m always asked that one simple question that I just assume everyone should know……  So here is last week’s question… what do you pack your gear in to take into the back country?  Here was a gal that has read all the books, watched the videos, and she was under the understanding that since the books say each pack needs to weigh the same, she was willing to split her clothing between left and right side, to the point of putting one shoe in her left pack and one shoe in the right.  This is way too much work, although I applaud the effort.  I like to run a small duffel bags and personally I run a day pack for my gear bag. I can use that pack as it was intended once I get to camp.  But no matter if it’s a small duffel or my day pack it’s a bright color so at camp when everything is getting unpacked I know what is mine.  I can take enough in that day pack for a week long trip minus my sleeping bag, fly pole and food.  For all of you reading this and are now saying I need to take more than that…You need to pack more and learn you don’t.  I also run horn bags everything important can be found in there. Wallet, keys and my pistol will be in the horn bag.  As a side note…if you are one of those boy scout types that has to bring everything including the kitchen sink just in case the stars a line and you need to be overly prepare for the next Y2K…don’t stuff everything in one of those monster duffle bags that can easily double as a body bag.  Those are a pain to pack and a poor use of space.  On the other hand so are those micro stuff sacks. I hate meeting folks at the trailhead who have formed a small mountain of fist size nylon bags that weigh nothing.  Manting up a pile of light weight fist sized stuff sacks is an art of its own.  Get out, pack more and learn what you really need to take, to be honest that won’t be much.  Take the time to sit back enjoy life.  Just don’t forget the coffee.  Enjoy your time beyond the pavement, have an extra cup of coffee and watch the sunrise….

 

See you on the trail.

Andy

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