What should I bring on the trip?
We will provide a list of things needed for each trip upon booking or go to the web page which describes what guests need to bring. The check list can be printed out so that you can use it as you pack. Get the checklist HERE.
Describe a normal day on pack trip.
Guests arrive and are greeted. Horse and mules have been secured in an area away from vehicle and people traffic and wait patiently.
I visit with the guests putting names with faces and getting everyone acquainted with one another. Then we get their gear out of their cars and divided into packs to be placed on the pack animals.
We then have a safety talk addressing the risks of the backcountry.
Finally the guests get to observe me handle the horses and explain to them horse safety.
They are introduced to their horses fitted to their horse and saddle, and given a short personal lesson in horse safety and how to maneuver their animal.
They then dismount and eat lunch off to the side while we pack the mules and prepare to ride out.
When we do ride, one guide rides in front of them, while a second rides behind them all of whom follow the pack string (6 mules packed with all our gear, led by me, and strung together).
Upon arrival in camp, the guests dismount with one of the guides who help them unsaddle their horses in the meadow and the guests then walk up to camp.
In the mean time, the other two guides unpack and unsaddle the pack stock and turn the loose.
Camp is set up. The guest’s tents and gear were dropped 100 yards away from the cooking area to help in the avoidance of bear problems.
All guests and guides sleep 100 yards away from the cooking area. All food and scented materials stays in the cooking area where it is hung from a “bear pole” high in the air to keep scents and bear attractants out of reach of the bears and to keep bears away from the guests. Bear problems are rare. Bears do not like large horse herds, or groups of humans. The hanging of the food and the clean kept camp help avoid any bear attractants.
Dinner is cooked in the core camp area, where the bear pole is and the food is kept.
Tables and chairs are set up, table cloths and dishes are set, the camp cook prepares his meals in a clean outdoor kitchen and he has been trained in food service and cleanliness.
The food has been transported in dry boxes and coolers.
Once meals have been prepared and consumed the guides wash the dishes and discard leftover foods in a separate garbage sack.
The guests are entertained around the fire in the evening, and finally prepare for bed by brushing their teeth and washing up in the core camp area to keep all odors in the core camp. Then they go off to bed and sleep in their tents, which have all been set up in a generally close proximity.
The next day breakfast is served and the routine begins all over again.
What do we sleep in?
We provide Term-a-Rest sleeping pad, a zero degree rated sleeping bag, and a pillow for your sleeping comfort. You will he housed in the Johnson Outdoors company’s latest design for four-man backpacking tents. The tent is called the Timberline SQ Outfitter 4. The tent holds two people and their gear very comfortably.
Do you get to take a shower?
Yes, we set up a sun shower for our guests to shower in a private area, away from streams to prevent soap from contaminating the waters of our favorite national park.
Where do you go to the bathroom?
At every camp we set up a latrine where our guest may refresh themselves and use sanitary wipes in a secluded area.
Can I bring my own livestock?
We do not advise our guests to use their own livestock. Our herd has a definite routine and pecking order, and does not like to be disrupted.
Can I bring my own saddle?
You may bring your own saddle provided it fits the horse we have for you to ride. An ill-fitting saddle is very hard on horses who work everyday.
What is the youngest guest you will take?
Age is not our requirement but maturity is. All of our guests need to be able to follow directions and have the stamina and strength to steer and command their own horse. Our horses are well trained and it takes very little strength to steer them. I have had five-year-olds who were able to handle their horses and six year olds who were not. It depends on the child.
Do you have a weight limit for your guests?
We ask that our guests be under 250 pounds. This is to keep you and the stock safe.
How do I get to where the trip begins?
Planes, trains and automobiles will get you to our neck of the woods but your final leg of the journey will be by automobile to the trailhead. There are different local businesses who will provide Taxi service into the Park, but most of our guests prefer to rent a car.
What do I wear?
We are in a mountainous environment, so clothing needs to reflect that. We usually ride in some type of blue jean for pants, and a light weight shirt in the day time. The days can range in temperature form 60’s to low 80’s. The nights get into the 30’s nearly every night. Dress in layers. Bring some type of rain coat and pants or use one our cowboy slickers to keep you dry while riding. Bring a heavy coat for the evenings to keep you warm. We provide warm sleeping bags but, warm pajamas or sweats are a must.
How safe are your horses?
These horses have been in the business of carrying guests for quite some time. They are very gentle, and are chosen for this line of work because of their particular gentle temperament. All horses are still to be considered living free thinking animals and must be treated with care and respect for their size, but we do all we can to minimize and trouble between our horses and our guests.
What do you do in case of bears?
We take all precautions to avoid bear contact. We start with our camp lay out. The sleeping area is 100 yards or more from the main core camp area where all of the cooking is done. We keep all things with a sweet smelling odor in the core camp, hung 10 feet in the air from the bear pole, where we store all of our food over night. The guides carry bear spray, and are trained for what to do incase of a bear encounter. We rarely have bear encounters due to the fact that bears do not like the large herd of horses that are around our camp.
Do you help fishermen?
We guide fishermen who need help, whether it is their first time casting a fly-line or just help fishing new waters for wily fish. We want to meet your needs.
What should a fisherman bring in fishing gear?
We would first advise you to bring a fishing rod. We prefer pack able rods in a hard case. If you have a 3 or 4 piece rod you can carry it on your own saddle, otherwise we can pack two piece rods on our fishing gear mule. We advise lightweight waders, and wading boots or shoes. A fishing vest or small fishing pack with your basics of fly boxes or lures, spare leaders and tippets, etc is vital. A net is useful but not required. All gear should be lightweight and gent on the fish because most if not all fishing is catch and release. We want our fish to survive for future generations of fishermen and women. We will provide a list of useful flies depending on the area.
What is the nearest airport?
Gallatin Field, between Bozeman and Belgrade, (five miles away) is the nearest airport to the pack station, but there are also airports in Jackson, Wyoming, south of the park, Cody Wyoming east of the Park.
Are there accommodations near by?
There are hotels, motels, and cabins in most major towns around the Park, as well as in the Park. We would be glad to help you arrange accommodations if you need them.
Do we need to rent a car?
Not necessarily. Some Hotels provide shuttle service to the Park. There are also shuttle services for hire in the area who will drop you off and pick you up at a trail head. However, most of our guests prefer to rent a car.
Do you take children?
Not only do we take them, we love them. But do ask about the rigors of the trips. Some are tough for little ones and we can help you choose a trip just right for your family. For those without children we can couple you on trips with or without child just check on availability.
Can you accommodate dietary restrictions?
If you have a dietary restriction, we are very willing to change the menu for you or if it is very restrictive we can cook separately just for you. You are our guest and we want you to feel as such.
How flexible are you on the dates and times of your trips?
We run our trips from Tuesday to Saturday. The Park opens to back country horse travel around July 1st and closes after the first major snow. We run five day trips, shorter if we need to accommodate someone who wishes to buyout and customize a trip to their own specific needs. Our trip descriptions have months after them designating the times of year that are best for that area. For instance Bechler in July is still very wet and the mosquitoes are gruesome, beside the trails being very muddy. But late august or early September after a heavy frost the bugs have been knocked down pretty hard and it is a very delightful place to be.
What is a customary tip or gratuity?
Generally 10% to 15%, depending on the service received and length of trip.
Where can I find forms and information related to my trip?
You can find trip related forms here.