Happy Llamas Come From California: Potato Ranch Llama Packers

Lis Korb is Tahoe Mountain Sports’ previous Web Content Manager turned Adventure Traveler Extraordinaire. This week her “wildcard” prose comes from Sonora, California, where she briefly touched down to hang with some awesome, luminous llamas.

WHO: Lis and friends

WHAT: A visit to Potato Ranch Llama Packers

WHERE: Sonora, California

WHEN: August 2012

GEAR: BigTruck trucker hat, Sol sunblock, La Sportiva Boulder X shoes

I had a dream. I knew it was an unrealistic fantasy. Llamas spit. They are dirty. Llamas would probably be like cows, uninteractive and oblivious to my charms. But when I made my dream a reality, it far surpassed all my expectations.  The llamas at Potato Ranch Llama Packers in Sonora, California, are friendly. They didn’t spit, or kick, or care less. In fact they cared a little too much! They were so friendly and in our faces that I had to wipe my face of llama kisses. And the best part? These charming animals can be your trail companion. Hiking with llamas, you can go further without resupplying, you can bring the whole family without mom or dad bearing too much of a load, and you can hike despite a disability or illness that impairs your strength to carry a large pack. Just imagine the possibilities if a llama could help you carry in your heavy climbing rack or photography equipment.

Potato Ranch Llama Packers is a 28-llama, 5-acre ranch located in Sonora, California, at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Owner Greg Harford offers more than 26 years of llama packing experience, and his operation is the only Northern California outfitter renting trained pack llamas. From his ranch, short drives give you access to the John Muir Trail (JMT) — where the llamas are pictured in the above photo, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT), Tahoe Yosemite Trail (TYT), Emigrant Wilderness and more. I think that with Potato Ranch being my first llama experience, I’m a bit sheltered to the “real” world of llama packing – Greg’s llamas are so well trained and friendly. Especially a couple of the males, which were very eager for attention.

I can’t recommend the experience more. I only visited the ranch for training purposes, and took llama superstar Quicksilver out for a short walk. I plan to return to rent the llamas for a backpacking trip soon.

Llama rentals through Potato Ranch cost $50 per llama, per day. They can carry 60 pounds each. You must rent two llamas as they need a companion. Have you ever been hiking with llamas? Tell us about it in the “Reply” box below!

Sol Sunguard Altitude SPF 40 Sunscreen
MSRP: $6.69-14.95

La Sportiva Boulder X
MSRP: $104.95

BigTruck The Dome Hat
MSRP: $27.95

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