Creating Family Time—with Llamas

Posted by: NOLS Blog on 7/1/15 8:00 AM

brad-christensen-llama Llamas enjoy taking selfies too. Photo by Brad Christensen.

By: Judd Rogers, NOLS Development Officer

When you work for NOLS most people naturally assume that your children are all professional campers by the time they are ten years old. While that is true for many of my colleagues, I am the dad who is guilty of letting his son spend more time than he probably should surfing Youtube and mining for virtual diamonds in the Minecraft universe.

Last summer I was offered a contract to work the family Llama Alumni Trip, and to sweeten the deal I was encouraged to enroll my son on the trip. I was drawn to the idea of spending the dog days of summer up in the cooler alpine climate zone. Mostly though, I wanted to spend some quality time with my boy Sam, and I wanted him to develop a strong connection with Wyoming’s Wind River Range. When I looked at the roster for the course I saw that there would be a few other kids his age. Upon further probing I saw that one of my co-instructor’s parents would be on the trip. The thought of three generations on a llama packing adventure in one of the prettiest places on earth was too good to pass up.

On our first day of travel we hiked a few miles up to Tomahawk Lake. The kids led the llamas up the trail and I secretly enjoyed the lightest pack I have ever carried at NOLS. After staking out the llamas in some nice pasture and setting up camp we went to try out the fishing. It was Sam’s first fly-fishing experience. It took about three casts before he caught a rainbow. My co-instructor Mandy taught him how to gut the fish and he brought it back to camp for supper. He was proud but I think he was a little traumatized by the whole process because he ultimately decided he was a “catch and release kind of guy.”

judd-rogers-son-sam-hike Judd and his son Sam. Photo courtesy of Judd Rogers.

We spent the next five days exploring, cooking great meals, and sharing stories around the stove and on the trail. One of those days was spent tracking down a llama that got away from us (but that’s another story). I think all of us were there for similar reasons. Love of family, love of wilderness, and love of NOLS were the main ingredients. When you add some friendly, furry pack animals, a dash of mosquitoes, scads of wild flowers, and several million tons of glacially carved pink granite, you have a pretty good recipe.

While we hiked out of the Winds, Sam complained that the trip was too short. He told me that he couldn’t wait until he is 14 so he can take a longer adventure course. I’m in no hurry for him to hit his teens but I do look forward to him strengthening his relationship with wild places in the years to come.

Take your own llama packing adventure with your friends and family on the 2015 Llama Packing and Fly Fishing in Wyoming's Wind River Mountains Alumni Trip. Visit our Alumni page to see where else a NOLS alumni trip can take you and your family and friends.

judd-rogers-son-sam-fish Sam catching his trout. Photo courtesy of Judd Rogers.


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