BUTTE – When it comes to the art of packing stock, turns out you can teach an old horse — or Forest Service member — new tricks.
“I’m still learning. If you think you’ve learned everything about packing and animals, that’s when your next wreck is going to occur,” said Gordon Ash with the Madison Ranger District.
Members of the U.S. Forest Service were at Sagebrush Flats campground area southeast of Butte to train how to pack horses. The crew needed to haul planks of lumber into the woods to build a puncheon along the trail.
“In this case, and like everywhere else you can’t get the vehicle into it — you know, the trails and tread are such you can’t get a 4X4 or an ATV in — so pack stock or you’re carrying it on your back,” said Ash.
The project made for a perfect time to get the younger members more training in properly packing the animals.
“They get to work hand-in-hand with each other with the animals, continuously, repetitive use of the knots, moving cargo up and down; they get a lot of great training out of it.,” Ash said.
Matt Walter of the U.S. Forest Service added, “This training is something that we need to have more of. Dealing with the stock takes a lot of experience, it’s not like turning a key in your automobile.”
“When you have a pack animal and you know how to use it you can move a lot of gear and you can do it safely and it’s quite the tradition. And hopefully the new youngsters coming up are going to take some of this on and keep these traditions going on in the future for sure,” said Ash.
Pack it in and pack it out.
Reporting by John Emeigh for MTN News