Steamboat Springs It's time to test your level of spontaneity. Six of the people signed up for Yampatika's five-day llama trek through the Flat Tops Wilderness canceled their plans because of injuries or schedule conflicts.
Now naturalist and trek guide Karen Vail has five days to replace them, lest she walk into the wilderness alone.
The llama trek is an annual fund-raiser for Yampatika. It begins July 21. Each hiker is assigned a llama to carry all of his or her gear. Hikers must supply their own gear and food for breakfast and lunch. Dinners are provided and prepared by Vail.
Vail is proud of her menu, which has featured steak and lobster for the first night, she said. The llamas allow her to bring coolers for food.
The group hikes four to seven miles a day at a slow pace, Vail said, but hikers must be in shape and the hike is for adults only.
"We are at altitude, and I would hate to penalize the other hikers because one person is having a hard time," she said.
The trek starts at Sheriffs Reservoir and heads over Orono Peak to the Devil's Causeway.
Hikers will get a chance to go over the causeway without the llamas.
The trek will then go through the burned area from last year's Lost Lake Fire.
"This will be a chance for them to learn about what is coming back after the fire," Vail said. As a naturalist, Vail will stop along the hike to explain wildflowers, geology and wildlife to those who are interested.
"We will also discuss land ethics and no-impact camping," she said. "That is an important part of getting out there."
The group will camp for four nights in a different spot each time.
"There will be some off-trail walking, which is more exciting to me, but not everyone likes that," she said.
The trek, which benefits Yampatika's educational programs, costs $600 for five days. The price includes a llama, dinners and a guide.
Llama outfitter Ann Copeland joins the trek every year.
"Part of this trek is getting to know llamas and learning how to pack with them," Vail said. "You really grow to love them.
"Some people have an understanding that they are mean and that they spit, but in four years I have never been spat upon."
Llamas love to pack and have great personalities, she said, and they are easy to manage.
Anyone interested in joining this year's llama trek fund-raiser for Yampatika should call the organization at 871-9151 as soon as possible, Vail said.