Packer buckel
Tack, Hats, Saddles, Chaps and Assorted Packing Gear

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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.



Mt. Whitney Pack Trains 1950s Brochure  

Bessie Brady  

More Packing Equipment

 1995 Mt. Whitney Packers Reunion


 High Sierra, Packing & Owens Valley Stories


 Mt. Whitney Packers

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This page was last updated on 27 August 2017