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Monday Mule Commuting Blues

Bernie Harberts, mule, road, sign

Even mules have to make commuting decisions. At least – for the moment – traffic is light (outside Limestone Cove, TN).

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

From Saddle Bag Rice to Strawberry Wine: What a Mule Rambler Eats

“Lord, what do you do for food?”, folks ask when they meet me and the mules and I tell them we’re riding toward Idaho. 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?

Bernie Harberts, mule, horse, trail ride

Mule Brick and the gear I’m packing.

In horse and mule travel, it’s… Continue reading

Top Hat Tennessee

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.

Bernie Harberts, Richard Graff

Richard Gragg: laurel digger, mountain man and arrow head hunter extraordinaire. By laurel digger, I mean he digs mountain laurels and sells them commercially. I spent the night at Richard’s in Gragg, NC. The experience warrants its own post. Thanks for the trout, mule digs and… Continue reading

Richard Gragg Laurel Digger

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.

Bernie Harberts, tater tunnel

Richard Gragg: laurel digger (and saw miller… Continue reading

Girl in a Green Dress

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.

Bernie Harberts, bamboo, trailer

Western North Carolina jungle land. The bamboo runs rampant over old homesteads. Look closely and you can see…

Bernie Harberts, bamboo, trailer

… a trailer carcass.… Continue reading

Riding the Tater Tunnel Trail

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.

Bernie Harberts, tater tunnel

How we started the day in Globe.… Continue reading

The Night Before Riding Away on my Mules

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.

Bernie Harberts, mule, brick, cracker

Brick and Cracker. This is how they looked the day before yesterday on their final outing before leaving. They’re loaded with the… Continue reading

Pant Leg Jug Carriers and the Blanket Stitch

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.

Bernie Harberts, top hat, sewing

The past few evenings I’ve been sewing on my old White sewing machine. I don’t… Continue reading

The List of Items I’d Take on a Half Year Mule Ramble

So you want to run away for a few months on a mule. What would you take?
Hell if I know. But Julia stepped in to the rescue. She hand wrote a list based on the items used on our last month and a half mule trip.

Bernie Harberts, julia carpenter, mule, list

Here’s how Julia and I looked after 6 weeks on the road with our mules. I’m taking much the same gear with me on my next mule journey.

Here’s what Julia’s list looks… Continue reading

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