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Winter 2017 Letter from the Editor

Welcome to the very last issue of The Backcountry Llama.

Our cover story, about pack goats working with a volunteer trail crew, is a great example of what this magazine has become over the last five years: a place for stories about people getting out with their pack animals, exploring the great outdoors with what one of our new columnists, Clancy Clark, calls a “hiker’s companion.”

As a lifelong (and second-generation) llama packer, I know Clancy got it right. These animals are more than just beasts of burden: they’re friendly helpers, trail buddies, a comforting sight when you climb out of the tent to pee in the middle of the night. As a newly-minted member of the Hopeless Crew (story on page 7), I am reminded of what the pack llama, and other pack animals, offer us: they willingly haul our gear so we can hike further, stay longer, and forgo counting ounces. They enable all sorts of people to get out, from families with small children to folks with bad backs to hobbyists with cumbersome equipment. And that’s what this magazine, now called Pack Animal, celebrates.

The political climate has changed. Our public lands, and access to those public lands, are being threatened. I suspect none of us, regardless of whether we grew up hiking in the backcountry or found the trail later in life, can imagine life without the backcountry. And while it may seem that we’re seeing more and more people out on the trail these days, the truth is that a large percentage of our country’s population has yet to be convinced of the value of our public lands.

This is why many in the outdoor recreation community, whether they are weekend warriors, business owners, enthusiasts, or activists, are starting to work together to speak with a united voice in favor of keeping our public lands public. Let’s add our voices to that movement.

This magazine’s list of columnists has exploded over the last few months, as we work to give more outdoorspeople a voice. Each of them will be introduced to our readers in the Spring issue of 2018.

But for now, please enjoy the Winter issue, with Kelvin Eldridge’s story of his first time as a member of the Leadville Trail 100’s Hopeless Crew, Clancy Clark’s inaugural Minimum Impact column, Bill Redwood’s final installment of the story of his trip to Peru, and much more.

Enjoy the holiday season, and Pack Animal will see you in the spring.

Happy Trails,
Alexa Metrick, Editor