Llama Land

The other animal hauling your gear

Published online: Jun 01, 2020 Articles, East Idaho Outdoors Kris Millgate
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There are three kinds of llamas. The kind you eat. The kind you wear. The kind that carries stuff. The carrying kind are called pack llamas. The best kind of pack llamas are bigger than goats and smaller than horses. They’re Ccara llamas and they’re a rarity in North America. Well, they were a rarity before Beau Baty started an outfitting business. 

“The Ccara llama was everything to [people in South America]. It was their buses, their planes, their rail cars, their semis, their taxes. That’s how they transported everything,” says Beau Baty, Wilderness Ridge Trail Llamas outfitter and owner. “They were bred to do one specific job which was pack for thousands of years. They’re really good at it and they take right to it.”

There are a few thousand Ccaras in the U.S. A few hundred of them come from eastern Idaho where Baty is based. He comes from five generations of horse packing, but when he wanted an animal to help him haul his hunting harvest out of the woods, he didn’t have enough money to buy a horse. He bought six llamas instead.

“I do a lot of hunting with my llamas. That’s really why I got them and then I had to find a way to feed them,” Baty says. “I was newly married and my friend said, ‘Let me use your llamas.’ I said, ‘Perfect. Give me $600 because that’s what my rent is.’ And all of a sudden we started a business.” 

Baty’s business hauls supplies into the backcountry for campers in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming. He has 51 guides and 492 llamas. Some of his Ccaras hum. Some spit and some sit, but none of them spook like a horse does. 

“When a horse gets spooked or scared, its reaction is to flee, get away from danger,” Baty says. “With llamas, they want to know why they’re being spooked or what is happening. That’s why they get used around the country as guard animals.” 

#humming

Humming is a llama’s version of a human’s happy whistle. One of Baty’s llamas, Marshall, hums at the end of a trip when he’s heading out of camp because he knows he’s on his way home. 

#spitting

Llamas have three kinds of spit. The more irritated they are, the farther down they go in their gut to draw up spit. The farther down they draw, the worse the spit. 

#sitting

Young llamas learning how to haul sometimes sit abruptly. That’s their way of saying the trip is too far. Physically they’re ready for it, but mentally they’re not sure yet so they sit. It’s their best impression of a stubborn mule, but tug the lead a little and they’ll keep going. 

#spooking

Ccaras are curious. They want to figure out what’s causing a fright rather than run from it. That’s why they don’t spook as easily as horses. 

#eating

No hauling hay like you have to for horses. Llamas eat grasses as they go. And they’re partial to llama cookies, a compressed grain pellet, so pack along a baggie of those for snack time.

#breeding

Female Ccaras are pregnant for nearly a year, 355 days. Twins are extremely rare. If twins are born, usually only one survives.

#hauling

Ccaras can haul up to 100 pounds. Less than the weight of an adult so you’ll have to haul yourself in on your own feet, but a Ccara can carry everything else you’ll need for your backcountry camp.

#leading

Ccaras are mellow and willing to let whoever they’re paired with take the lead on the trail. A loose hold on the lead keeps them from gradually wandering away to eat grass.

#guarding

In bear country, llamas are placed around tents at night as guardians. They have a specific call when danger approaches. They’ll know a grizzly is coming before you do. 

#traveling

Baty’s llamas haul trail supplies six days a week from mid-March to the end of November. 

 

Outdoor journalist Kris Millgate is based in Idaho Falls where she runs trail and chases trout. Sometimes she even catches them when she doesn’t have a camera, or a kid, on her back. Her first book ‘My Place Among Men’ is available now. See more of her work at www.tightlinemedia.com


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