Saturday, August 28, 2010

Packing seminar with BCHC--North Bay Unit

The day after dentist day--when certain horses might not have felt like having other things in their mouth--seemed like a good day for a different type of adventure, so Steve and I went up to Lake Sonoma to participate in a packing seminar with our local unit of the Back Country Horsemen of California.

This is not our first exposure to packing, though we haven't yet been out on a "real" packing trip. A few years ago, we took a two-day packing course that drilled us with a lot (a LOT) of rope tying. It was great, but we were both afraid none of it stuck since we didn't practice--not even once--when we got back.

I am pleased to say that Steve Ybarra's coaching did filter back somewhat (okay, not as much as I'd have liked) as we tied box hitches and double-diamonds, talked about feed in the back-country, and the all-important concept of balancing your load.

Though Steve will tell you how very much I would like a mule in the family, I can't say we'll ever belly up to the bar and add a mule (or pack horse) to our string of ponies. It is doubtful Bar or Lena would consent to hauling mere gear, but they could probably be convinced to try some camping. Luckily, there are a couple sites at Lake Sonoma we can use to do a dry run (or two) close to home. Then there's Point Reyes to try, as well as some spots we discovered in earlier adventures up Highway 108. Close to home is a good place to start, so it was great to hook up with some local folks who are experienced and can share ideas and direction. They even offered to take us out with their pack stock! Lena and Bar will be pleased.

We didn't just talk about (and tie) knots, though. We also talked about education programs BCHC is involved in, including the "Leave No Trace" movement. With my past life of outdoor public service careers--and my obsessive-compulsive urge to pick up trash I find while out on the trail--I really appreciate the focus the BCHC puts on this idea. Teaching people that each and every one of us impacts the places we go--and reinforcing the concept that minimizing that impact should be a goal--could up awareness just enough to elicit change. And if it means I pick up just one less empty water bottle on the trail? (Really? You carried it in full, right??) Well hey, that's a good thing.

1 comment:

Dave (aka Buckskins Rule) said...

BCH is a great organization. Even if you don't pack, the information you can learn from the packing seminars can be of great value. I took one through our local chapter a few years ago, and plan to attend again this winter.

Having now packed with three different mules, I've come to find that I like them quite a bit, also. But I have learned that it takes a certain personality to work with them. As someone whose bucket of patience can tend to run a little low, I don't believe myself to be such a person.

But, I'll never say never. It wasn't too many years ago that I swore I'd never ride a horse...