Belt Buckle
Tack, Hats, Saddles, Chaps and Assorted Packing Gear

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On Top of New Army Pass

Me with Quarter Boy and my two lead mules, Bart and Dan, on the summit of New Army Pass during a private party trip with some folks from New York to Rock Creek. Lynn Aronstadt was the cook.

What a trip that was! Some meat was accidentally breaded with lye. Those folks from New York just took it all in stride though. Every day the whole family (father, mother and son, all jumped into Rock Creek buck naked while Lynn and I reservedly went about our camp duties. That's how it was on many of those private party trips. The guests were all terrific and willing to make a lifetime's worth of High Sierra memories in a week or two.

Pack Mule

Have you ever wondered about that mule's rigging? Well here it is. At the start of every pack season we would get all of the pack saddles out of the tack shed and give them a good soaking with a leather softener. Any damaged rigging would be repaired and then off we would all go to the Elder pasture to shoe all of the stock which was going to be used that summer.

The mule [pdf].

Pack Mule


Western Roping Saddle

 Western Hat Styles
Typical western saddle used by many of the packers and guests on private party trips. Many of the packers and private party guests had their own saddles which were quite more elaborate than the one pictured.

 Montana Peakhat 

Cattleman's Crease

Tom Horn









An essential part of any packer's gear. Whether it's to protect you from barbed wire or a horse rolling over you as you cascade down a rocky bank into Golden Trout Creek as I did, they are worth their weight in gold. Take your pick of boots, but good old Justin or Tony Lama rough out work boots are about as good as they come. No need for alligator or ostrich boots when you're shoveling out a corral at the beginning or end or the season. Spurs are another essential piece of gear if you're going to get anything out of a stubborn horse. Many summer riding horses are rentals from equestrian schools which needed a lot of encouragement to act "right" in the High Sierra. Rope, lariat, riata, no matter by what name you call it, it is an essential part of the packer's gear. Once when packing into Little Whitney Meadows my lead mule set back unexpectedly toppling my horse (Judy) and I down a rock embankment into swollen Golden Trout Creek. My chaps save my hide but my rope saved my horse enabling me to keep her upright in the river until help finally arrived.


 Shoeing Equipment
Hammer, hoof cleaner, rasp, nippers, anvil, nail, shoes, and clinchers are just some of the tools of the farrier (horse shoer). I remember my first horse shoeing experience at Mt. Whitney Pack Trains. It took me nearly three hours to shoe an incredibly docile horse and he kicked all of the shoes within 15 minutes. Talk about humiliation! But, eventually I got proficient enough to shoe a horse within 35 minutes and have all of the shoes stay on until they wore out. 







 Harmonicas & Guns


Panniers (or "leather-ins) are used for packing loose items such as canned goods etc.

Believe it or not, a hand gun is an essential part of packing. One never knows when an accident will occur with the stock necessitating that the injured animal be killed. Once, when shoeing, my riding horse Judy was accidentally impaled in the jugular vein with a splinter in the corral. With no gun on hand, all we could do was remove the splinter and several of us sit on her while she bled to death. Summers were not supposed to begin this way.gun

I remember one wrangle, the longest of my packing career, when hobbled horses (equestrian school loaned, of course) led me on a 15 mile overnight wrangle. If it weren't for the kind folks at Cottonwood Pack Station, those stock would have gone another 15 miles down the mountain to the Elder Ranch. As it was, the Trail Riders, my boss, and all of the packers were stranded at Templeton Meadow until I was able, with the help of someone from Golden Trout Camp, to get the stock back to camp the following day. Everyone thought a mishap had befallen me when I never returned that day. The look on their faces when I arrived with all of the stock the next morning was quite something.

Sturgis Beef Jerky

Packer's delight - perhaps the BEST beef jerky that can be bought!

For some of the best in packing equipment visit...
Mountain Ridge Gear
mountain ridge gear

Owens Valley Aqueduct Portraits & History  

Mt. Whitney Pack Trains 1950s Brochure  

Bessie Brady Steamer  

 1995 Mt. Whitney Packers Reunion


 High Sierra, Packing & Owens Valley Stories


 Mt. Whitney Packers


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This page was last updated on 21 April 2024