About Bernie Harberts

Bernie Harberts

Bernie Harberts is the subject of the Emmy award-winning PBS North Carolina program “The Mule Rider” and the film maker and star of the Prime Time “Lost Sea Expedition” series that premiered on Rocky Mountain PBS (stream on Amazon).

Even though he has traveled over 10,000 miles by horse and mule, he still can’t keep his mule Cracker from occasionally bolting. His memoir Two Mules to Triumph, about his 7-month mule voyage from North Carolina to Idaho, is scheduled for release in 2024.

He cut his teeth as a writer while sailing alone around the world on his sailboat Seabird.

Sign up here for Bernie to give you a heads up when the Two Mules is released, and you’ll get a link where you can download a free copy of Bernie’s award-winning photo book 19 Million Mule Steps.

19 Million Mules Steps is the photo book about Bernie’s journey through America with his mules. Click here to download a free copy.

Bernie’s Travels

Bernie is an author, filmmaker, adventurer and speaker. He prides himself on tackling big trips in small bites. That means using simple equipment, asking for help along the way and not waiting until perfection to take off on a journey. His trips include:

Voyaging Under Saddle

Bernie’s big love is taking long saddle and wagon voyages through America. He’s a Long Rider and a member of the Long Rider’s Guild, the group for anyone who’s taken a continuous saddle voyage of more than 1,000 miles.

Where is Home?

When he’s not out rambling by mule, boat or bike, home is Caldwell County in western Carolina. Bernie and his wife live in what she calls the “Shoebox Canyon”. Nature and topography are the box. The hay fields where their horses and mules graze are their front lawn. The mountains have their back, and the stars are their roof.

Julia and Bernie. This photo was taken the day they returned from a 6-week mule ride from North Carolina to Virginia and back.

Their home is under 500 square feet which feels like plenty to Bernie after years of living in wagons, tipis, and tents. He and Julia heat with wood, wash with gravity water and make about as much electricity as they use with the solar panels on the roof of their cabin. You can read more about how they live right here.

Home: life is good when your lawn is a hayfield. The rows are the season’s first hay cutting.
Looking toward the Brushy Mountains from the top of the mountain behind Bernie and Julia’s cabin
The closest neighbors are animals. Here, an eastern box tortoise cooling down in a puddle.

Bernie and Julia live close to some great horse and mule-back riding. Sometimes they ride out their front gate and see where they end up.

One day, they rode their mules out the front gate and by afternoon…
…they arrived at the Happy Valley Fiddlers Convention 10 miles away. On this ride, they ended up riding a month and a half to Virginia and back.

North Carolina Roots

Bernie grew up in North Carolina and went to NC State University where he earned a degree in Wood and Paper Science. After a few years in the corporate world, he decided he’d rather commute with a mule than a Volvo.

In his thirties, he rode his mule Woody thirteen months across America, capturing glimpses few have slowed to document. He wrote two books about that voyage which you can find in the RiverEarth.com General Store.

Since then he has traveled thousands of more miles by mule and wagon. PBS North Carolina and “Our State” magazine joined Bernie and his mule Polly for one of these trips. That episode, “Mule Rider”, won an Emmy Award.

Click on the player to watch “The Mule Rider”: directed by Morgan Potts (UNC-TV) (courtesy of UNC-TV)

The “Lost Sea Expedition” series

Traveling with a single mule and a tiny wagon he built in a friend’s garage, Bernie spent 14 months traveling from Canada to Mexico across the Great Plains learning more about the ancient sea that once covered the Great Plains.

He filmed the whole voyage myself, a first-ever for a cross-country wagon voyage. Back home he edited that footage into the award-winning “Lost Sea Expedition” documentary. The 4-part series premiered on Rocky Mountain PBS (Colorado).

The “Lost Sea Expedition” trailer

The “Lost Sea Expedition” can be streamed on Amazon right here. Plenty more about the series at LostSeaExpedition.com.

Download a Free Copy of Bernie’s New Photo Book 19 Million Mule Steps

19 Million Mule Steps is 134 pages of photos, sketches, letters, musings and short essays that didn’t fit into Bernie’s upcoming memoir Two Mules To Triumph, about riding his mules 2,300 miles through America.

Here are some of the illustrations from the new book.

Into the American West: windmill water just when the mules and I needed it most (outside Lost Springs, Wyoming)
A good long drink
To read more from 19 Million Mules Steps, click on the “PREVIEW” button above. You can buy 19 Million Mule Steps on Amazon, or keep reading to find out how you can get a FREE copy.

Get a Free Copy of 19 Million Mule Steps

Contact Bernie

You can email Bernie right here. Or you could break out the stamps and write a letter. Here is Bernie’s mailing address.

Follow Bernie on Facebook

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