Travel by Mule

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SheRa Just Wants to Transition And Hike the Appalachian Trail

“All I want to do is walk through the forest,” SheRa told me. It turns out that’s not easy if you’re transitioning from being a man to a woman.

SheRa (Elk Garden, Virginia)

I met SheRa this week while riding my mules Brick and Cracker up the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail. You never know who you’ll meet on a mule ramble. That’s one of the beauties of just setting off an seeing what you come across.

SheRa holding Brick

Becoming SheRa

A few days after I met SheRa in Elk Park, I ran into her again in the Scales camp on top of Grayson Highlands. SheRa told me she is the first person to complete hiking the Appalachian Trail while transitioning from being a man to a woman.

We had a fascinating discussion that goes beyond the scope of what I can peck into my phone on the top of Grayson Hughlands, but I did make a recording of my thoughts that I look forward to sharing with you.

I will say that I found SheRa charming with a kind sense of humor. She grew up in Tennessee and says, “Deep down, I’m just a redneck from Appalachia.” She told me the hikers she met on the AT were amazingly supportive and encouraging of her transition. She also points out she’s suffered physical assault and social media criticism by strangers who disagree with her choice. “I’ve had restaurants not serve me, the law called on me and some guy called me a faggot while I was drinking a whiskey in a bar to celebrate the end of a hike. All because they don’t understand that I’m just want to live my life and part of that is becoming a woman. I’ve always felt that way and now I’m going through with becoming on. How does that hurt anyone?”

In that way she’s like everyone else I’m meeting on the AT.

“All I want to do is walk through the woods,” she says.

Here are some photos of our visit.

SheRa always dreamt of riding a mule and Brick made that dream come true
Okay, this photo isn’t supposed to be in this post but I can’t figure out how to delete it. It’s a wild strawberry I found on Grayson Highlands.
Hang five

If I have one takeaway from my encounter with SheRa it’s this. If you don’t understand someone, start by being kind. Then ask them the questions you’re afraid to ask.

More about SheRa on Facebook at SheRa Be Free.

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Listen to Two Mules Clip Clop Across a Railroad Bridge

This morning my mules Brick, Cracker and I tackled the first leg of our mule ramble. We plan to spend the next two days riding 30 miles up the Virginia Creeper Trail. It all started in front of an ancient locomotive.

Start of the Virginia Creeper Trail (Abingdon, VA)
Brick giving a locomotive parked at the trailhead the side eye

Here are some photos and audio from the day you’ll enjoy.

Cracker crossing the first of 15 trestles we encountered… Continue reading

Goodnight Wishes From Damascus

I am writing you tonight from my hammock. It’s slung between my horse trailer and a stock panel. It’s pitch black outside and the night air smells like camomile.

Where I’m writing you from

I hear Brick and Cracker munching clover off in the night and I feel a deep peace. Tomorrow I saddle up and start my ramble. Here are a few more pics of where we’re camping.

Tonight I’m staying with Mike and Cindy Johnson. That’s Cindy in… Continue reading

Clothes For A Three Week Mule Ramble

Good Monday morning. The mules and I are heading to Damascus, Virginia today, to start our mule ramble. Right now I’m getting gear loaded into my saddle bags. Here’s how many clothes I’m taking for our three-week ramble.

The clothes I’m bringing on my mule ramble: 1 spare shirt, 1 spare pair of pants, 2 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of sock liners, thermal top and bottom (because it can get damn cold on the top of Grayson Highlands and… Continue reading

Join me For a Mule Ramble Along The Virginia Highlands Horse Trail

Hey, let’s go mule rambling! My mules Brick, Cracker and I are heading out next week on our next mule ramble, and I look forward to sharing the trip with you. Here’s a sketch of my intended route.

The Route: Virginia Creeper Trail to Virginia Highlands Horse Trail to Iron Mountain Trail

Like all my mule rambles, I’ve given myself permission to quit at any point for any reason. That sure takes the pressure of saying you’re going to do… Continue reading

The Hoof Boot Review: 3 Hoof Boots, 32 Days on the Trail

best hoof boot, cavallo hoof boot, renegade hoof boot, cavallo hoof boot, what is best hoof boot for horse, hoof boot for mule
Consumer Reports just won’t report on some things. These are the boots we’re reviewing. Here’s how they looked during our month-long mule ramble.We reviewed Cavallo, Renegade and Easy Boot hoof boots. Here’s how they held up after 32 days on the trail

What’s the best kind of hoof boot for your horse or mule? My wife Julia and I rode from North Carolina to Virginia and back with three brands of hoof boots. This hoof boot review is what we… Continue reading

Queen Valley Mule Ranch Saddle Review

This is a review of how my Queen Valley Mule Ranch (QVM) Trail Lite saddle performed after I rode it 7 months and 2,300 miles from North Carolina to Idaho.

My Queen Valley Mule Ranch saddle on Cracker after traveling 1,400 miles from Lenoir, North Carolina to Hyannis, Nebraska. It would travel another 900 miles to Idaho for a total of 2,300 miles on the road.
Trek of the QVM (Lenoir, North Carolina to Hailey, Idaho)

I may be calling… Continue reading

Adjusting Pie’s Hoof Boots (Part 3 of the 3 Part Series on Transitioning to Hoof Boots)

How do you adjust a pair of new hoof boots?

Nice new hoof boots. But how do you get them to fit?

In today’s post, I’ll show you how I’m adjusting a pair of hoof boots to fit my wife’s pony Pie. To get you up to speed, here are the first two parts in this three part series.

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Off With Her Shoes (Part 1 of the 3 Part Series on Transitioning to Hoof Boots)

A while back my wife Julia and I pulled the steel horseshoes on her pony Pie’s front feet. I thought you’d be interested how we’re transitioning her (Pie, not Julia) to bare feet. From here on out, she’ll go barefoot. For extra protection Pie might need on rocky trails or abrasive surfaces like asphalt, we’ll slap on a pair of hoof boots.

Julia removing the nails from one of the horse shoes she’s taking off Pie. Pie looks pretty chill… Continue reading

Knocking on Doors

When my mules Brick and Cracker and I set out on our latest journey from North Carolina to Idaho, we did so with minimal planning. We had no chase crew, sponsor or person lining up places for us to stay. We just went.

The Uninvited Guests. A painting my wife Julia did of how mules Cracker, Brick and I found lodgings on our journey from North Carolina to Idaho. (Julia Carpenter painting)
A long way to go: Brick and Cracker… Continue reading
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