Iris Sokolow Barnett

"We're a Washington, D.C., family of campers—even at Disney World we pitched our tents—and we wanted a way to go on a back-country expedition. At 12, 10, and 6, our kids can't carry much gear, but we'd heard llamas will do the lugging for you. My husband, Phil, found High Prairie Llamas [800/439-2597;; $40 per llama per day] and arranged for us to spend five days hiking in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, two mountain ranges that cross Montana and dip into Wyoming. For our party of seven, including my sister-in-law and her friend, we needed four llamas. A 90-minute crash course in llama care—pet them with your palm facing up, feed them a granola-like supplement—transformed us all into able guardians. We learned quickly that llamas spit if provoked—a warning shot hit Phil. But the kids loved taking care of the grooming and feeding. All told, we covered 20 or so miles. A highlight was camping by an alpine lake 10,000 feet above sea level, with heart-stopping views. We felt as if Louie, Little Guy, Triplicate, and Clint had led us to the top of the world."