KnoxZine
KnoxZine

June 10th, 2014
Smoky Mountain Llamas

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After walking three miles with Smoky Mountain Llamas, I am now obsessed with llamas.

Celebrating my first day of my last year in my 40s with JJ Bird, Cuckkoo, Taylee, and Buck Kahler.

Celebrating my first day of my last year in my 40s with JJ Bird, Taylee, Cuckkoo, and Buck Kahler.

Smoky Mountain Llamas, offers several llama treks on its Cosby, Tennessee, farm, and in the surrounding area. We chose the paved North Ridge Trail on Bluff Mountain in Sevierville. Bluff Mountain Road is a narrow, steep, and curvy two-way road with no guard rails. We arrived too early and drove past the meeting place (if you reach a fork in the road – you have gone too far). While winding around the dense mountain top Buck exclaimed, “This area is like a Yankee’s nightmare about the south!”

It wasn’t long before we met up with guide Steve Garrett and JJ Bird, Taylee, and special guest llama, Cuckoo.

Steve Garret gets the llamas ready for our trek.

Steve Garrett gets the llamas ready for our trek.

Three years ago a bad economy brought Steve and his family south from Michigan to an unexpected career turn as the new owner of Smoky Mountain Llamas. We enjoyed his stories about the llamas, life in Cosby, and his time spent on the Appalachian Trail.

All of Steve’s llamas are retired from Mt. LeConte Lodge. The trio we trekked with are friendly, goofy, comical, and majestic. Llamas are pack animals and they carried our lunches and water in special saddle bags fitted with coolers. They did not spit on us, even though I repeatedly tried to force cuddle JJ Bird, who was not interested in my affection or flower offerings. They munched mightily on vegetation along the trail. We also enjoyed expansive views together on two short trails that meandered off of the paved road.

Taylee takes in the view.

Taylee takes in the view.

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When we reached our authorized destination on a Foothills Land Conservancy property, the llamas relaxed and chewed their cud while we enjoyed our lunches on Garrett’s small folding table and chairs.

A stylish picnic.

A stylish picnic.

Another great view.

Another great view.

On our way back to the horse trailer JJ Bird hoofed it down hill. He also pooped in sweet Taylee’s face while Taylee was pooping. Did I mention the llamas had distinct personalities and attitudes?! Cuckoo strutted, pranced, and ran circles around Steve the entire way back. Cuckoo is an especially affectionate and beautiful llama who, for some strange reason, reminded me of Charo, the flamboyant flamenco guitarist who was popular in the 1970s. Maybe it was his fancy haircut? Cuckoo belongs to another owner but he occasionally makes appearances with Steve’s llamas.

Smoky Mountain Llamas offers a unique and lovely experience for anyone seeking a memorable mountain experience. I still think about the llamas we met and how adorable they looked munching daisies and Chestnut tree leaves. In the coming weeks, look for  Smoky Mountain Llamas’ Groupon offer. A pleasant and peaceful trek or farm visit with Smoky Mountain Llamas is a great way to celebrate any special occasion.

© Debra Dylan, 2014.

Photos by: Buck Kahler

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