July 2003 Warner Lake

By Marie Seabrook

The last two days . . .

The morning we were leaving “Potato Patch” campsite to head up the High Trail I had gone around to each of my llamas to remove their long grazing lines to pack them away. They were all on short lines so I untied Primo, dropped his line on the ground loose and proceeded to saddle him. I stopped to go get the baby powder to puff under his chest as he was a little chafed from the heat and then returned it to the supply kit. He just stood quietly waiting. We put his panniers on and then draped the line over his neck while he grazed.

Next, I brought Ace out, saddle him and put his panniers on while his line was loose on the ground as well. I put it over his neck while he grazed but as I turned to go for the next llama, I guess Ace thought he was ready to go so he proceeded up the trail heading home with Primo right at his backside following. Primo has been left many times grazing loose amongst the llamas and it has never been a worry. I didn’t want to run behind them to compound the problem but I was definitely making tracks and talking fast. I caught up to them about a hundred yards on after some tense moments. Amazingly, they were on the correct fork of the trail, not the Gun Creek trail which splits right at that meadow. Ace is not known for high speed down at the coast but when he gets up into the alpine something kicks into gear and he was definitely on a mission that day. We think they eventually would have gone back to our home base farm if we hadn’t caught up to them. They probably would have stopped to rest and graze as well as spend the night at the Taylor Creek cabin just the way we always do. There would have been some very surprised hikers and cyclists along the way, not to mention chaos amongst the pack horses.

After Monique and I left the group to go out the Taylor Creek trail we immediately tied the llamas in the shade at the Eldorado junction and sat down ourselves. We removed boots and sox and sat in the shade with our feet in the sun and had a one-half hour rest before the long two km. slog up out of Eldorado valley. It was late afternoon by then and quite hot with only sporadic shade patches from trees. We took our time collecting rocks and plant seeds and every time we had two rocks of equal weight, we put them into Silver’s panniers. After a while, he was starting to lay his ears back at us.

At the campsite above the cabin we encountered about five cyclists from Williams Lake camped for the night with a number of horse pack boxes. After cautiously looking for horses, we were told that they had all run off and the owners from Gun Lake had gone to search for them. They had been hobbled and had managed to lope away. You would think that someone would have noticed that they were getting farther away. One boy had meanwhile returned and said that they had caught one horse.

On we limped to see a tent above the cabin and someone calling out my name. It was a former member of Getparc and his girlfriend so that required another stop and chat. Down at the cabin two women were camped in tents and sitting at the picnic table eating supper. Busy place. Monique and I decided to stay in the cabin that night and eliminate the last tent take down. By the time we had finished supper, Pierce and Pat came down to visit. Everybody wanted to socialize; all we wanted was to get to bed for the night after eight hours on the trail.

The next morning, two women left about the same time as we did and we kept passing each other on the trail at various stops. The large avalanche field had a huge melted tunnel with a stream running underneath so that was a bit of a concern. I walked out and found that it was solid by going further down and out through the trees. Two cyclist appeared coming up the trail at that time and stopped for a chat. One big social occasion up there. We walked the llamas singly across the, now flat, bridge on Taylor Creek and stopped for 15 minute break.

We had just come out to the first steep side trail going down to the logging landing when we saw a group of horses and riders, all appearing to be facing in different directions, some dismounted; dudes, I guess. We veered down the steep trail to get out of their sight and weren’t long reaching the bottom. It is the same distance as the high trail but flat and open to the sun so it got quite hot. We reached the trailhead at the same time as the two women who informed us that the horses had spooked at them with their big packs. Back country horses are usually more tolerant than that. The women had told them that llamas were coming; it was probably the last thing they wanted to hear. They said they would come up with an alternate plan, meanwhile we were long gone. We went down the new short cut to the McKenzie farm and were unsaddling by 1:30 pm. We had left at 9:45 am so it took 3 1/2 hours plus a 15 minute break. Petey was already back from the States so we had a great visit with supper all made for us. She had a young goat die while we were away as it had gotten into the barn and the grain. By the time she realized this, it was too late.