Editor's Note—Alexa Metrick
Alexa Metrick has been the editor of Pack Animal since 2013. She grew up packing with llamas in Carbondale, Colorado and is the webmaster for the family business, Sopris Unlimited. She was also a co-organizer of the 2011 Pack Llama Festival in Silverton, Colorado and is a member of the Leadville Trail 100's Hopeless Crew at Hope Pass. Alexa has a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Information & Library Science and has worked for The Washington Post, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, and the American Museum of Natural History, among others. Alexa and her husband, Craig, have two little girls and the family spends as much time outside as possible.
Llama Packing—Kristy Brown
Kristy was a camelid veterinarian for twenty-seven years and has been raising llamas for the past twenty-three years at The Brownderosa Llamas. Her passion has always been for the athletic, short-wool-style llamas and they have raised several National Grand champions over the years. In 2008, Kristy and her husband joined some friends for a week-long back country trip with pack llamas, and she has been hooked ever since. She tries to spend some time each year with experienced outfitters to expand and improve her knowledge and skills in llama packing, and she started a llama packing business, Midwest Llama Packing, in 2012. Kristy was inspired to start the business after attending the 2011 Pack Llama Festival in Silverton, Colorado. Llama packing in the Midwest is not a common activity and she spends a lot of time doing promotions and education on llama packing to build interest and expose the public to the abilities and opportunities that packing with llamas provides. Kristy has been a Pack Animal columnist since the spring of 2018.
Pack Llama Trail Association—Lisa Wolf
Thirty-four years ago, Lisa met a trio of badly behaved llamas. Having been mishandled, they had no use for humans. She braved layers of spit to convince them otherwise, and they became so well mannered she could trust a tiny child to lead them. Lisa was hooked forever. Today she is a partner in Burns Llama Trailblazers, where she trains and manages the pack llamas. Her admiration for pack llamas, and her determination to see that they are properly trained and cared for, has led her to whole- heartedly support the mission of the Pack Llama Trail Association, where she currently serves as president. Lisa has been a Pack Animal columnist since the winter of 2014.
Goat Packing—Lawrence Robinson
Lawrence Robinson was 'born in East LA’ and grew up in western Washington, land of rain and wrinkles. His involvement with goats began in 2003, more or less, when he moved from Boise up into the mountains on the way to Idaho City, Idaho, and had enough space to make the packgoating thing a reality. Once the animals were old enough and capable of carrying the weight, Lawrence began to engage them in his hiking pursuits— they now log as many as two hundred miles in a summer. Using goats allows for full immersion in the wilderness for longer periods of time. The wilderness is where he tries to spend his spare summer time. Lawrence has been a Pack Animal columnist since the summer of 2017.
Food for the Trail—Sadie Squier
Sadie's philosophy, when it comes to cooking, is that you don’t need a gourmet kitchen to make a spectacular meal. She graduated from culinary school in Denver and worked briefly in professional kitchens, first as a line cook and then as a sushi chef, before branching into a less conventional career of cooking on private jets. The aircrafts Sadie works on are luxurious, but galley space and equipment are limited. The challenges remind her of the cooking challenges she faces while backpacking. Both types of cooking requires temperature control without large refrigerators, have minimal space and weight requirements and limited equipment, and if, you forgot a crucial ingredient, there is no running to the store from either the air or the backcountry. Sadie has traveled extensively, both for work and for her outdoor passions, and she is excited to share what she has learned with people who want to end a long, strenuous hike with a steak instead of a power bar or people who want to wake up to green chili poached eggs instead of a packet of dry oatmeal. Sadie has been a Pack Animal columnist since the spring of 2018.
Navigation & Knots—Phil Romig Jr
After serving in the U.S. Navy and working on missile guidance systems, Phil was a Geophysics teacher and Dean at Colorado School of Mines for the remainder of his career. For two decades, he supervised the CSM Geophysics Department summer field camp in the Colorado mountains, where he also taught geophysical surveying and land navigation. He enjoys backcountry fly fishing, has designed and built pack rods, and has been going on llama pack trips for 30 years. Phil has been a Pack Animal columnist since the winter of 2013, where he discusses the elements of backcountry trip planning, trail navigation and safety, and appropriate use of technology with an emphasis on GPS. At the end of 2017, Phil also took on the Knots column.
Poisonous Plants—Shirley Weathers
Shirley Weathers, co-owner of Walsh & Weathers LLC and Rosebud Llamas, is a consultant, researcher, and llama enthusiast. A CA native, Shirley earned a Ph.D. in Latin American History from the University of Utah and then worked for 13 years as Research Director and Legislative Liaison for a non-profit organization. Shirley and husband Bill next moved to northeastern UT, where they ran a consulting business and Rosebud Llamas Utah, an outfitter-guide business. Shirley’s commitment to effective care of her animals sparked her interest in researching and writing Field Guide to Poisonous Plants: Western U.S. She is grateful to Dr. Murray Fowler for his support and active role as peer reviewer. She also teaches clinics on poisonous plants, as well as most topics relating to llamas. She, Bill, and their eight llamas now live in Eagle Point, OR. Shirley has been a Pack Animal columnist since the spring of 2013.
An avid outdoorsman and adventurer, quadriplegic Topher Downham spends most of his free time in the outdoors hand cycling, horseback riding, camping, sailing, or any other mode of recreation that may tickle his fancy or curiosity. His biggest passion is assisting other people with disabilities to enjoy and connect with nature. Topher has been a Pack Animal columnist since the spring of 2018.
Minimum Impact—Clancy Clark
Clancy Clark has been a wilderness traveler for more than forty-five years. He started backpacking at the age of twelve in his home state of Colorado. Later, while living in Montana, he spent a decade raising, training and packing with llamas. He has now returned to Colorado and has spent the past several years breeding, raising and training pack goats. Clancy feels fortunate to have spent so many years hiking the beautiful Rocky Mountains. He thoroughly enjoyed his years of llama packing, and is now having an amazing time developing a pack goat string. He looks forward to having many adventures with them. Clancy is passionate about minimum-impact backcountry travel, and has displayed the ability to hike and camp with pack animals in a way that leaves little, if any, evidence of their presence in some of the most fragile wilderness ecosystems in the country. To him, practicing LNT principles is an expression of the love and respect he has for nature. Clancy believes that we have an obligation to preserve these special places so that they will continue to exist in their state of natural beauty. He has been a Pack Animal columnist since the winter of 2017.
Public Land Advocacy—Dave Hodges
David Hodges has lived in Jackson, Wyoming for thirty-five years along with his wife Jill. For almost thirty years, David has been involved in outdoor education and employed as a hiking guide, llama guide, and field instructor in the backcountry. He is a former NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) instructor; and a former outdoor field instructor with AWLS (American Wilderness Leadership School). Public land policy and use was a curriculum topic at both institutions. For over twenty years, David and Jill have owned and operated Jackson Hole Llamas. A popular commercial llama pack business in the Yellowstone region. During the twenty-plus years as llama outfitters, David and Jill and their team of pack llamas guided and led hundreds of camping guests through the wilderness in the Teton and Yellowstone landscape. Just this summer (2017) though, David and Jill sold the successful llama pack business. David now hopes to have more time to llama pack at a more leisurely pace, and into new terrain, creating another chapter of pack llama memories. David is currently on an advisory committee gaging western Wyoming wilderness areas and their future use and public access. He has been involved in the Public Land discussion for years and has been a Pack Animal columnist since the spring of 2018.
More Voices—revolving guests
Just as there is not just one way to enjoy the backcountry, there is not just one type of person who enjoys it. This new column aims to expose our readers to the wide variety of nature-lovers and outdoorspeople who are greatly underrepresented in outdoor literature. Please contact the editor at email@example.com to share your story.
Hard News—High Country News
High Country News "is a nonprofit 501(c)3 independent media organization that covers the important issues and stories that define the American West. Its mission is to inform and inspire people – through in-depth journalism – to act on behalf of the West's diverse natural and human communities." Pack Animal reprints a relevant HCN story each issue to give our readers access to quality investigative reporting that our staff is currently unable to provide. Every issue of High Country News is a wealth of information; you might consider adding it to your list of subscriptions.