The sun is out, the snow is melting, and you’ve got shoes on the ponies. You’re ready to go…Where are you going??? You poured over maps all winter, at least half of you reading this called me once or twice and asked about this trail or that trail head or my thoughts on securing animals on your first overnight camping trip with your horses. So, all that freshly oiled tack and all the new gear you got for Christmas is loaded in the horse trailer. All you need to do is put fuel in the tank, load the stock in the trailer, and throw some adult beverages on ice and your off to see new country. Did you tell anyone where your going? Whenever I teach a packing class I always say the number one thing to remember is take care of number one! YOU are number one. When the pack string is blowing up don’t cowboy up and try to ride out the storm this seldom works …trust me!!! Just let go of the rope, take care of number one. Live to fight another day. When out trail riding you normally aren’t close to help if things don’t go quite as planned. We all think we are invincible. But we aren’t… So, before you pull out of the driveway let someone know where you’re going, when you’ll be home, and if you are married to someone like my wife...don’t call the national guard in until this date. Make a copy of your map and draw your plans on it and leave it with all the trip info. This applies to a quick after work ride as much as it does to a 14 day across the Bob Marshall Wilderness trip. I’m listed as the emergency contact for a pile of my customers…they file their trip plan with me and normally the wife has my cell number in case no one shows when they said they would. I made a sheet up years ago and I fill out all the info from where I’m going, to those cell numbers of those with me. I hang it on the same kitchen cabinet door every trip. I started passing out these sheets in the hunter ed classes I teach and now packing classes and clinics too. There was one elk trip I failed to contact my wife on and she called my partner in crime, my daughter, Sydney at 2am. Sydney checked google earth and saw I was sending messages off my personal locator. My wife said “it’s dark” Sydney told her mom “Well Dad might not be with them but his pack string is doing 3.2 mph and on the trail about 3 miles from the trail head go to sleep all is good…” Feel free to use my info/contact sheet or make one of your own…Just tell someone!!!
See you on the trail!