Pack Trip from Hell
Last August 2007 we made a pack trip into the South Chilcotin Mts. in B.C., Canada and had occasion to use your "Leatherman Tool" in a great way. Day one: We drove to the trail head and camped with 6 people, 4 mules, 6 horses and 1 pony. It is very difficult to duplicate this country at home to get your people and animals prepared and fit for this steep terrain, higher altitudes and heavier loads.
Day 2: We loaded up and headed out on the trail. Three to four hours into our day, one of the pack horses in our party made a miss step on the mountain side after making a steep climb and fell backwards, rolling and somersaulting down into a creek bottom that was filled with small trees and fallen larger trees. We found him upside down and still wearing most of his packsaddle and boxes. Thank God for our "Leatherman Tools" that 3 of us had. We used them to cut away the brush and willows. With the predicament that this horse was in the use of an axe was out of the question due to the fact that this animal was on the edge of panic, and there was no room to work with all of the downed debris. If you started swinging an axe in those circumstances someone was going to get badly hurt. Typically a horse struggles and flails when its freedom has been impeded. What is needed in these situations is to keep the animal calm and quiet as it was so dangerous for the rescuers working in those close quarters in the ravine and brush trying to free the animal and to not get struck by flailing hoofs as the horse tries to get on its feet again. When you are in the mountains, a doctor and a hospital are a long ways off. A decision was made to make camp in the first safe spot and let the bruised but not broken horse and people rest.
Day Three: We packed up, moved out and figured that we would be thru this section of steep terrain by mid afternoon at the latest and then we would set up an early camp and rest the animals for a day and a half. We were only out on the trail for a couple of hours when it became clear that this horse was not going to continue with his load, as he stumbled and fell again. We gathered all his gear in one place and tried to figure out the best plan of attack. It was decided that the only thing that we could do was to try the saddle horse as a pack animal just to get us out of this bad patch of steep country and then we could camp for a while and rest all the animals and people. This seemed like a good idea as this horse was mature and well broke to ride. All went well for about 100 yards. Then a branch scratched against the pack box scaring her and she blew a gasket, broke away from the person leading her and headed straight down the mountain side into the canyon below in a flat out run.
How she stayed on her feet and didn't kill herself and fall to her death is both a testament to her athletic ability and a miracle as that mountain side was almost straight up and down. She scattered the pack, the boxes and contents over about 10 acres of mountain. We finally found her in a steep, deep ravine in a similar mess as the first horse the previous day. It was almost unbelievable that this could be happening yet again. I was convinced that when we finally found her that we would have to put her down. She was also upside down with the packsaddle still on. She had a 4 inch tree between her front legs and a large downed tree above her head. Her head had to be immobilized so that she didn't thrash and bang her head on the tree that was above her, and so that she would remain calm and quiet while we worked to free her. The saddle saw had been lost in all of this craziness and again, the use of an axe was out of the question as the rescuers were in a very precarious position for injury. Once again our trusty "Leatherman Tools" that three of us had came to the rescue.
We cut the tree that was between her legs in two places with the little saws that are on the "Leatherman Tools" thereby freeing this downed horse. Without the "Leatherman Tools" we would have had two dead horses. Those little tools are what got us home with no major losses. This was truly the pack trip from hell and it was a miracle that we all, including the people and animals, got home with only bruises and contusions and not serious injuries or death. Praise God!
Quesnel, British Columbia, Canada