Garth's Girls from the Andes

Article and photos by Tyson Brooks, Adventure Correspondent for

Explore the Canadian wilderness near Niagara Falls with a four-legged companion from the Andes...

I looked into those big brown eyes, surrounded by long luscious lashes and I fell in love. She was perfect, and I was revved up and ready to go hiking with her and two of her friends. Garth Gourley from Wyldewood Treks insisted that he would come along. What a day it was going to be. But her reputation? It was so bad! Was all of it true? She was rumored to be ill mannered and short-tempered. She was known to bite and kick when she wasn't happy. Apparently she also had a spitting problem. In other words, she was as bad as your common baseball player. Hygiene was not a concern of hers at all. And yet she was so beautiful I knew I would not be content to follow her from afar, for long.

llamaNever shy in my approach to the ladies, I stepped closer. I had to find out whether any of these nasty rumors were true. She watched me quietly, not uttering so much as a sound. What was I to do? I couldn't think of anything to say. Even her coat was beautiful. The luxurious wool stopped right at the neckline, but boy was it short. It looked like she had nothing on underneath. Before I could stop myself, I buried my face in the wool of her coat. It was so soft and silky and the scent, well, she didn't smell at all. Perhaps her reputation was undeserved. Garth was watching and gave me a funny look; after all, she was one of his girls. Embarrassed by my lack of restraint, I stepped back.

More About Garth

Garth lives and hikes about an hour out of Toronto, towards romantic Niagara Falls. On llamathe day we went hiking, he picked me up at my apartment and told me some wild stories about his ladies on the way to Rattlesnake Point near Milton, Ontario. That's where I met my trail companion. Garth and I set out, the girls shouldering the load. I had proclaimed they were too delicate to carry all the equipment, but Garth insisted. He said they were used to it; it was expected of them in the Andes where they were from and besides, it kept them fit. I led the prettiest girl down the trail. She followed so peacefully content with life. She walked so close to me she practically peered over my shoulder. Occasionally, she would call softly to her girlfriends, just to make sure they were still there. She was an excellent hiker, obedient but shy. She was able to take even the steepest and rockiest of paths.Soon we stopped at a lookout for a break. All three of the girls were frightened of heights, but with a bit of encouragement from Garth reluctantly approached the lookout. The view was magnificent. We could just see the CN Tower in Toronto. Garth opened up some of the snacks and we nibbled on carrots dunked in homemade dip. Soon it was time to move on.

As if to disprove their salacious reputation, the girls were all perfect ladies, well mannered, polite, and quiet -- well almost. Since they lived together constantly, they liked their private space when they were on the trail. Occasionally, if one of her girlfriends got too close, my companion would take deadly accurate aim and land a spitball in her eye. Such behavior added a strange animal charm to these girls and gave everyone around a healthy sense of respect for them. Other than that, the girls made a great hiking team. They even went to the trouble of spotting wildlife and pointing them out to us. Soon it was time to stop for lunch. Garth's wife had prepared a wonderful meal. Out of the packs that the girls were wearing, Garth produced a stove, some delicious homemade chili, freshly baked bread and all the other essentials for a successful lunch, including something sweet for dessert.

Unfortunately, the hike was soon to end. These beautiful girls were wonderful companions llamaand perfect ladies. It seemed they expected nothing in return, except the company we gave them. On the return journey, Garth told me how he would take the girls to visit hospital patients. They loved all the attention they got on those outings, and behaved like perfect ladies, even when riding the elevators.

Garth said that after one such visit, he received a call from a nurse who told him how an elderly woman's daughter had requested that her mother be further sedated after she claimed that a gorgeous, very unique younger lady had appeared in her room like a dream. The daughter had clearly thought that the mother was hallucinating again. He also told me how at a fair he had taken some wool from a coat that was the trademark of his girls. He met a woman at the fair who was allergic to everything. He showed her the wool that he let the girls wear and told her it was the very best non-allergenic material available. To test Garth's claim, the lady stuffed this wool into her bra and returned at the end of the day to report that she had not experienced even the slightest irritation. Garth also told me how a stranger once mistook his girls for large, well-trained dogs. I replied that in the near future, they would probably be mistaken for stranger things than that. Alas, it was time to put these beautiful llama ladies back into their trailer. They had been perfect companions and I would miss them dearly. I only wish I had one of my own. As Garth had warned me earlier, everyone falls in love with a llama.

For more information:

Garth will put together half-day and full day trips for a reasonable price. He can accommodate everybody from avid hikers to those who are wheelchair bound. Families and couples alike enjoy llama trekking. If you have a favorite hike in the area, he can bring the llamas to you.

Wyldewood Llama Treks
RR#1, Freelton, Ont.
L0R 1K0
Phone (905) 659-1413, Email


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