Kissing Llamas

Trip Start Jul 26, 2005
Trip End Aug 20, 2005

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Flag of United States  , Utah
Tuesday, August 9, 2005

After a night at the Rosebud Llamas guest cottage (and our first self-cooked dinner in two weeks), we were ready to get up early and tackle some llama-packing. Since it wasn't an overnight trip, we really didn't have all that much to carry, so the llamas would have a light load; but the point was more the experience than the actual need for llamas to carry our gear.

Rosebud Llamas has thirteen of the friendly beasts kept in a paddock near the house; they come in all sorts of shades, from pure white to chocolate brown to white-and-black patterned to a grey Appaloosa style spotted one. They have huge, intelligent dark eyes, bushy little tails that they carry daintily elevated above their bums, and inquisitive, constantly flicking ears. They hum when they speak, a little bit like a throaty sort of "mooo." After four of them had been packed with panniers, we were allowed to choose the one we wanted to walk with.

Dad chose "Zorro," one whose black eye mask pattern over a white face made his name self-explanatory; Mom had "Baez," the mothering one of the bunch; Shirley, the owner of Rosebud Llamas, was walking with the tempestuous (for a llama) Fusco in an effort to train him to be better behaved while packing; and I got Charlie, a short, all-white and extraordinarily friendly boy. Charlie's special trick is that he likes to kiss, bringing his llama lips close to yours and touching them together gently, in return for which he often receives a treat. Llama breath is a little green and grassy but otherwise palatable. Their teeth are the one thing that leaves something to be desired; they have no top front teeth, only very long bottom teeth that stick out from their lips on a forty-five degree angle, making them all look like they would benefit from orthodontry to deal with their magnificent underbites.

It wasn't a long hike up into the Uintah Mountains, with lots of pleasant stops to discuss llama behaviour and take in the views, and at the end we had a pleasant picnic overlooking a green valley while the llamas chewed on tree bark and pine needles. I was more interested in patting, kissing, feeding and otherwise fussing with the llamas than I was in the hiking itself. They are a very docile and friendly animal, well-behaved enough that even when Shirley's dog, Danke, bit Charlie on the back of the leg, he did no more than shy slightly to the side and stare askance at the dog. A horse in the same situation would have been bucking and thrashing to no end.

At the end of the lovely lunch (one place where having the llamas to carry gear came very much in handy; we had everything from a full complement of food to a fold-out table and chairs) a thunderstorm had rolled in overhead and we hurried back down to avoid placing ourselves up high at the mercy of lightning.
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