When you visit the country there are certain things you expect to see: farming, ranching, and in Okanogan County Washington lots of Apple Orchards. So tractors, pick-ups, cattle and horses are pretty everyday sights. Hard working, salt of the earth people, ranchers and farmers, and don’t forget the fun loving people like fisherman and hunters. There are rodeos in the country with real live Bronc Bust’n, Bull Riding, Calf Rop’n Cowboys and Barrel Racing Cowgirls and Rodeo Queens. There are Cowboy Hats and Boots, and Rodeo Fans parked a country mile. There are other outdoorsmen as well such as hikers, backpackers, and climbers. These things are quite common in the country.
Why last year while visiting, I saw a cattle drive taking place right down the main road- that was pretty amazing I thought. What I was surprised and taken back to see is this Summer was something I will refer to as “Herd Hiking.”
Making there way down the main road along Palmer Lake, just outside the small town of Loomis, Washington, were some hikers. That in itself is not unusual as the Pacific Northwest Trail runs right along the area. The Pacific Northwest Trail is 1200 of hiking from the Continental Divide in Montana through to the Olympic Coast of Washington. So we certainly see hikers as they make their way on this long distance trek. The 3 hikers we spied were hiking with 3 dogs… okay no big deal. What was different in this case was the 3 hikers we saw and their 3 dogs were herding just under 20 goats, one of which looked like the big goat from ‘Three Billy Goats Gruff’. The big billy goat with the monstrous horns had on a pack. That was just the beginning as also in this troop was a camel, that’s right a camel! The camel had two large humps as a built in pack, but also carried a large pack. That still isn’t the end of the craziness there were a couple shaggy haired large yaks with huge packs and a calf or would that be a yakky?
Still not done with the craziness, the leader was the nicest guy and happy to talk about their journey. I asked him, you aren’t doing the Pacific Northwest Trail are you? He said that they were on part of the trail. They had just hopped on the trail not that long ago, and they were headed for Kettle Falls, which is over 100 miles away. He said from there they would forge their own route. He said they have to think about crossing the Okanogan River. They had been told of a place that they might ford the river, but otherwise they will just go across the bridge with the traffic. Okay…
He had long thick brown hair and was quite tan and fit. I thought that his get up was a bit strange, but a neighbor reported that she also talked with him and that he was wearing some sort of homemade leather loin cloth and slippers, and that he went by “Jesus”.
The Nomadic Shepards were pretty self sustained they had milk and cheese from the goats and yaks as well as jerky. He told me that they calculated that this made up more than 70% of their caloric intake.
Well, that is certainly not something that you experience everyday I will say that. The Herd Hikers and their flock went on about there merry way disappearing around the bend.
Some people march to a different drummer. Isn’t fascinating that they are taking on such an adventure?
Pursuing Balance Through Adventure