In 1974, 93% of Glacier National Park was recommended as Wilderness. To this day, over 93% of Glacier’s backcountry is managed as Wilderness. Glacier’s trusty fleet of pack stock supports the park’s backcountry programs. From hauling materials and food for more than a dozen seasonal trail crews to servicing the fire lookouts and carrying supplies to and from Granite Park and Sperry Chalets, they also support research crews, volunteers, backcountry patrols and search and rescue efforts.
This program, with a history that extends to the park’s establishment more than 100 years ago, was highlighted in our 2015 Field Guide to Park Project Priorities. Typically, four mules are replaced each year to ensure the herd of 40+ is a strong mix of veteran and younger, stronger stock. Once added to Glacier’s herd, mules will work every summer for up to 20 years and are stationed throughout the park at St. Mary, Belly River, Goat Haunt, Lake McDonald and Apgar.
Nick and Karen Chickering chose to generously support this project for 2015 and the four new mules were recently purchased by the park from K Lazy 3 Outfitters in Big Timber, Montana. Once the mules arrived to Glacier, Nick and Karen stopped by to meet the mules and give them their official park names to be entered into the record books. Jean, Sherman, Stuart and Chick are, by now, settling into their new ranges throughout the park and learning the ropes from the experienced pack mules on the team, and through the ongoing training of the park rangers.
When asked about their desire to support this program, Nick said “While attending The Thatcher School in the 1950’s, we packed with mules regularly. I knew right away when I heard about this project how important the mules would be in the Glacier backcountry.”
We thank the Chickerings for their ongoing support of Glacier National Park, and for helping to preserve and sustain Glacier’s backcountry heritage for generations.