U.S. Forest Service mule pack string to participate at Fall River Co. Fair
July 28, 2011
The U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Regional Specialty Pack String will be host to the 100th anniversary celebration of the Fall River County Fair held in Edgemont, SD Aug. 4-6. As part of the celebration activities, the Lead Packer, Glenn Ryan, will be conducting a free two-day packing clinic Aug. 4-5.
Visitors to the Fall River County Fair are encouraged to stop by the Rocky Mountain Regional Specialty Pack String corral to see these talented and amusing animals. Mules, once the standard working stock of a growing nation, have once again become irreplaceable contributors to managing wilderness and road less areas where the use of mechanized vehicles is prohibited.
Cowboys, trappers and outdoorsmen of every variety filled the early Forest Ranger ranks. A good pack animal was an equal partner in protecting the forest reserves from timber-theft and fire. Mules were preferred because they possess intelligence, agility and stamina. It was only a matter of time before several pack mules were tied together, creating a working pack string. These working strings became lifelines to crews who fought fires, carved trails, built fire towers and bridged rivers in the backcountry.
Able to carry roughly twenty percent of its body weight, a 1,200-pound mule can comfortably carry 150-200 pounds of materials. Because of this carrying capacity, the best use of mules today is packing supplies in and out of wilderness where mechanized equipment is not allowed.
The packing clinic which will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 4-5, and will cover topics such as: safety, equipment, tack fit, decker versus sawbuck, loads and loading, hitches, mantie loads, pig tail, panniers, and principals of leading a string.
The Rocky Mountain Regional Specialty Pack String is based out of Shawnee, CO, but their working territory ranges far beyond their home base. It is big; in fact it services South Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming. It supports a wide variety of projects, including hauling materials to support trail crews, assisting in trail maintenance/construction, hauling fish to stock remote streams/lakes, supporting fire fighters during wildfires and educational outreach such as “Leave-No-Trace.”
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