Llama trekking in Wyoming
It all started when my parents asked my younger sister and me if we would rather do a summer trip to Disney World or on a llama-packing trip. Without hesitation, my sister and I responded that we preferred the latter. That summer was the first of many llama trips that became an annual tradition.
When I tell people that I spend a week llama trekking in Wyoming each summer, I get generally perplexed reactions consisting of exclamations like, “Why Wyoming?! There’s nothing there!” and “Do you ride the llamas?” After hearing such questions so much, I now have a nearly automatic response: “No, you can’t ride the llamas, they carry your camping gear! And we go to the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming, which is great because nobody knows about them, so we barely see any people!”
The Wind River Range truly is amazing, boasting thick forests, wide rivers, beautiful rock formations, unimaginable wild flowers, and lots of wildlife. All of this is especially rewarding during a long hike with a llama breathing hot breath down your neck and occasionally humming. Yes, the llamas hum when they hike. This along with their constant sure-footedness, endurance, and calm demeanor make them perfect to pack with.
In the evenings, we stake the llamas out around the campsite where they can eat and rest after the long days of hiking. Each one is typically at a different side of the site where they can see one another but surround the tents. This gives them space to eat but also helps us with protection during the night. In a sense, the llamas act as guard dogs. Although we have six to eight family members on each trip, we can’t rely on our numbers to deter the bears in the mountain range. However, if they see a bear or moose, the llamas will make an alarm sound (somewhat reminiscent of a donkey braying) that scares the animal away. While we have not seen any bears over the years, we have seen multiple moose on each trip. In fact, our first trip was the first time in my memory that I had seen a moose in the wild. I remember the excitement and emotion of that moment so vividly and ever since then they have been my favorite animal.
Each trip has hosted its own adventures and new experiences throughout the years. From nearly getting run over by a spooked moose, to trying to sleep through a tumultuous thunderstorm, to exploring new areas on day hikes after getting up in the dark to catch the sunrise, each experience holds joyous memories. I can only hope to continue this tradition for years to come, as llama treks have been a significant part of my life for quite some time now. I am so glad that my sister and I chose to go on such adventures those many years ago—little did we know how life-changing it would be!
Rylee McCone is a sophomore Art and Geography double major with a Leadership minor.