The AAHA Adventure Series Pack Trips began in 2013 and I'll never forget that first year. 

Opening night we enjoyed dinner and drinks in Jackson Hole. The next morning we rode into the Teton Wilderness for 4 days and 3 nights. Yes, the draw for this trip was the horseback riding, camping, fishing, and hiking in some of the most beautiful, remote country in the U.S. You didn't have to be an expert horseman or outdoorsman to really enjoy this trip--many novice riders participated. The horses were well-trained and easy to handle--just ask Dr. Cavanaugh. 

We had fantastic food, drinks, accommodations, and hospitality. The best part: No cell phones for 4 days. The wildlife didn't mind us much, either. Mule deer, elk, moose, and eagles all made appearances. We saw a grizzly bear off in the distance, too (they tend to stay away from bigger crowds). We didn't see any wolves, but wolf tracks were a common find--maybe 2015 will provide some wolf sightings. 

We rode to a gorgeous mountain waterfall and visited some hidden lakes where some of us went swimming (it was a little cool), some of us fished, and some just relaxed for lunch. A few of us hiked up the mountain behind our camp one afternoon. After a fun-filled day, we retired each evening (after a sip of good bourbon or whiskey for those who wanted to partake) to canvas wall tents with cots and mattresses. Our shower was the Buffalo River and was quite refreshing. And as for the restrooms, don't worry ladies, they were enclosed. 

Our continuing education was scheduled around our activities, usually occurring during the evenings around a campfire, but was ongoing once we got to know everyone. We made many new friends and learned a lot about each other and ourselves. You would never have expected the CE portion of the AAHA Pack Trip to be so educational, thought-provoking, and beneficial...and, I can't forget to mention, fun! 

I got more out of this trip than I would a 4-day conference. Everyone who attended took something home that impacted their careers, lives, and practices. Some went home and obtained their accreditation. Others improved their profitability and found some valuable management skills they didn't know they had. Some made transition and retirement plans while others became practice owners. I obtained the knowledge and courage to pursue other veterinary-related opportunities and seek other potential practices to buy. I haven't been successful in the practice-purchase endeavor yet, but it is only a matter of time. 

After 4 days, we found ourselves back in Jackson Hole--and into what some might say was the best shower they've ever taken. The evening sendoff was a late event for most of us as we had dinner, celebrated, and remembered "quotes of the week" that left most of us laughing until we cried. Many "pack trippers" still keep in close touch today. 

If you enjoy the outdoors, horseback riding, hiking, or fishing, or if you simply want to relax and find ways to improve your practice and your future, this trip is for you. I enjoyed the 2013 trip so much that I went back in 2014 and hope to see you there in 2015. Opportunities like this are few and far between, so make the most of it. 

AAHA's 2015 Pack Trip will be held in Jackson Hole, Wyo., August 6 - 9. Contact [email protected] to learn more. 

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