You MUST have a wilderness permit to stay overnight in the outback. The Summit ranger station at the Pinecrest turnoff can issue your free wilderness permit - call (209) 965-3434, or to apply on line, you can link to Stanislaus National Forest wilderness permit page. Please be sure to take care of this detail and have your permit in hand before you arrive at Aspen Meadow. Here's a few extra details that might help -- please be sure to include your packer in the count of people, and if you are unsure of the number of people and or stock (count both horses and pack mules) that you will have on your trip, it's better to estimate on the high side. If you arrive to pick up your permit after hours (at the summit ranger station--can't verify the others), the rangers will have placed your permit in a box on the side of the building. You might consider calling the station before you arrive -- just to confirm that it's ready for you.
Please arrive at Aspen Meadow by 6:00 am to give the packers time to properly load the bags, get you settled on a horse and allow you to enjoy your destination as soon as possible!
When planning for your trip, please keep in mind that your gear will be loaded on a live animal whose behavior cannot always be predicted. Aspen Meadow cannot guarantee your equipment and suggests that if you choose to bring expensive or fragile items such as video equipment, you pack it with styrofoam and in a waterproof container. If you carry your camera, for example, while you’re on horseback, keep in mind that it will get dusty and may require cleaning after your trip.
The advantage of having pack mules is that you will be able to enjoy the back country with items you wouldn’t normally pack in on your own back. However, it’s important to balance the need for luxury with the 150-pound per mule limit.
Please keep in mind that the pack bags are limited in size. Please plan to bring coolers no larger than 48 quart as that size fits perfectly in the pack sack; clothing and food should be packed in canvas or other soft material no larger than 13” wide x 23” long x 15” deep. Many smaller containers are better than a few large ones, enabling the packers more flexibility in obtaining the correct weight and balance for each mule. What you bring is up to you, but if you’re new to the back country, you might consider the following list as a helpful guide. Click here for a guide on what to pack.
Your packer is your guide to the Emigrant Wilderness. He will handle all of the pack animals, ensure your trip is safe and if you like, provide you with a little history of the area. You packer will participate in your trip as much or as little at you like.
Packers are much more fun to be around if they are fed! Yes, when planning meals for overnight trips, or if you plan to keep your packer with you, please include enough food to feed him.
If you are happy with the work that your packer did for you and your group, gratuities are certainly welcome.
It’s probably not a good idea. The back country is pretty rough even on a dog who’s in extremely good condition, and is used to walking many many miles through rocky terrain. Add to that the danger of horses’ hooves and you might be better off leaving Rover with friends at home.
Yup! Aspen Meadow takes pride in offering well-trained horses that are very easy to ride – even for the novice cowboy! If you’re not used to being on horseback for long stretches, though, you might consider wearing well-padded bike shorts under your loose-fitting jeans.
The weather in Emigrant Wilderness can change at any moment. A summer day that starts out sunny and warm can end with thundershowers and a significant drop in temperature. You should definitely plan to bring foul weather gear and warm clothing.
Because you can bring coolers on your back country trip, your menu can be varied and exciting! Leave those freeze-dried packs of food at home; bring along the steaks!! Please plan your menu according to your own food preferences, but if you’re new to the back country, you might consider the following shopping list and menu as a helpful guide: Click here for a menu and shopping list.
YES! Aspen Meadow now offers all-inclusive trips that include a packer, stock, a cook and all meals.
The general rule of thumb to follow is one mule per person per week. Of course, please keep in mind that this is the general rule. In order to maintain safe conditions for our pack animals, we keep to the 150 pounds per mule rule.
The maximum size for a group is 15. Please call us if your group is larger than
15 and we will try to accommodate you.
With a water filter, you can drink the water in the lakes and streams, saving yourself from running dry and the hassle of carrying several days worth of water into the back country. Without a filter, you run the risk of infection by giardia, a microscopic parasite that lives in most high altitude water sources. Alternatives to a water filter include boiling water for a minimum of 10 minutes. Recent tests conclude that iodine and chlorine compounds are not totally effective in eradicating the parasite.
Because Aspen Meadow prices are geared to be as affordable as possible no matter how many riders in your group, there is no opportunity to offer additional discounts.
Aspen Meadow offers plenty of parking for your car, truck or RV.