A young mother stopped the mules and me this week and asked, “why do you travel with a top hat on your pack mule?”
She asked, “Is it in memory of someone? Is it like putting an empty pair of boots in an empty saddle when somebody dies?”
She was giving it way more symbolism than I did.
“No”, I said. “It’s the top hat I got married in.”
“Oh”, she… Continue reading
Good Monday morning. It’s off to the races time – me, you and mules Brick and Cracker. If it makes you feel any better, this is what my commute looks like. Only today it’s raining and my mules don’t have heated seats and windshield wipers. Yuck. Today we’re riding from Limestone Cove toward Erwin. If you see us on… Continue reading
“Lord god, what do you do for food?”, folks ask when they meet me and the mules. My wife Julia sent me off with a bag of food: rice, coffee, pecans, ramen noodles and a few other staples. I’ve been eating rainbow trout, smoked potatoes and drinking strawberry wine. Okay, and a little rice.
How the hell does that work?
In horse and mule travel, it’s the weight, not the miles, that kill.… Continue reading
Little did I know within a day and a half of leaving laurel digger Richard Gragg’s, I would shiver in my bivy and saunter with a top hat and 2 mules in to Tennessee.
Traveling the land with my mules, I’m fascinated what people do for a living. I’ve met oil men, lobster fisherman and chicken sexers. This week I met my first laurel digger. Meet Richard Gragg.
Richard lives in Gragg, NC, between Globe and Grandfather mountain. I spent the night at Richard’s last night and he explained what he does for a living this time of year. Here are a few photos of my visit.
Shot the gap and steered the mules toward Globe through the green choking landscape that swallows house trailers before they rot. Saw a girl in a green dress feeding a goat. Asked if I could to take her photo and she said that was okay.
“Do you know the goat’s name?”, I asked.
“No”, is all she said.
In the good old days before refrigeration, ice cream and the device you’re reading this on, folks used to store their canned goods and root vegetables in root cellars. Around here in western North Carolina, folks call them tater tunnels, because that’s were potatoes were stored. I counted 5 on the roads that lead from Colletsville to Gragg. No doubt I passed many more that were hidden. Call it the tater tunnel day.
We’re off! Today mules Cracker, Brick and I set off headed West. Here are a few photos of how our journey started.
It’s 9p, Friday night. I’m in the cabin alone. This will be my last night in my bed for many months. In the morning, I will saddle Brick and Cracker, ride out the front gate and head west. I will ride Cracker. Brick will carry the supplies.
Here’s a few photos from the past few days of preparations.
Snip, snip, snip go the scissors. Chug, chug, chug goes the sewing machine. I’m down to final preps for my upcoming mule ramble. That means sewing up canvas covers for my water jugs. I’m feeling lonely tonight. Julia, my wife and the only person that ever rode a mule with me on one of my rambles, is not coming on my upcoming Mules West journey.