Outfitter Profile: Lorene Grassick of Highland Llama Trekkers in Grass Valley, California

Online at www.llamapacker.net

 

The year was 1993, and I was retiring from teaching junior high mathematics and natural history. I had spent years backpacking the high wilderness trails of the Sierra Nevada with my children and grandchildren, but backpacking wasn’t an option for an upcoming week-long trip into Oregon’s Jefferson Wilderness with my youngest grandson. He was enthralled with all of the natural wonders, eager to learn everything, but was unable to carry ten pounds without complaining. A llama was needed, I decided. There was no Internet back then, and a trained pack llama was not to be found. Experienced with horses, I bought one gelding llama, then two more, and spent the first six months of the year day hiking and training them and learning about llama saddles and panniers.

 

My first trip with the three newly trained geldings was eight days in the Hoover Wilderness—an experience that taught me how critical balancing the weight in panniers is, how to avoid Death Camas plants hidden in meadows, how necessary it is to carry charcoal for poisoning emergencies, and how stoic and faithful llamas can be. Delighted with the prospect of hiking without carrying any weight and newly retired, I decided to declare this a business enterprise and went in search of more llamas.

 

Nine years ago, after years of breeding, raising and training llamas, my dream of owning a pack string of male llamas raised and trained from birth became a reality. Last year, all of my llamas three years old and older were screened as “Ccara.” I was extremely pleased, feeling that my evaluation of worthy breeding candidates and careful selective breeding had been verified. Two to seven crias each year give us the chance to love and enjoy their delightful, friendly personalities.