Giddy Up!

By Tom Holland May 31, 2017

I came to Wyoming to go backpacking. I stayed to go horsepacking.

Have you ever thrown a diamond-hitch?

Have you ever wrangled horses in the middle of the wilderness without a fence in sight?

Have you ever heard the clang of distant bells in the night indicating that your herd of horses are near?

This is the taste of the old west, and it comes to life every year at Wilderness Adventures.

When I was introduced to Wilderness Adventures, I knew nothing of the diamond hitch or wrangling or a horse’s bells and hobbles. I was a backpacker, loving to see the wilderness travelling with my own two feet.

However, after leading backpacking trips for a few years, I was given the opportunity to lead a horsepack trip. Reluctant at first (as I knew very little of riding horses), I was told that with my horse we would cover more country, see more wilderness, and pack more fantastic food than we ever could on our backpacking trips. We headed to the Teton Wilderness, into a camp that was cared for by horse wranglers with greater expertise than I had with a kitchen that any backcountry master chef would be envious of. The camp was beaming, approximately 50 head of horses and mules, 4-6 wranglers, and our crew, made a small community in the backcountry that is truly western.

After my first night, where we turned out the horses and the mules to grazes in an open meadow, I fell in love with the Wyoming packtrip.

A student of history, I am always drawn to experiences that transcend time. This is one of those experiences. When you are pulling a string of mules over a mountain pass, guiding your horse to your next camp, this is a taste of a time that has long since passed. What made me most excited was the opportunity to once again use my own two feet to explore farther reaches of the wilderness. My horse got me to my base camp, but my feet would propel me to the nearest waterfall, peak, or beautiful vista.

For the avid outdoor enthusiast, I urge you to consider adding some cowboy (or girl) skills to your repertoire. You won’t be sorry when you can impress your friends at the next gathering by roping the nearest bush or demonstrating the correct way to balance out a box hitch on the nearest mule!