Ride out the Front Gate

Slowing Down for Apples

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Always apples: a few of the apples we gathered this week spend their last evening on a caboose at RiverGirl Fishing Company. In the morning they were gone. Mule Polly had eaten them.

Good Sunday morning from the RiverGirl Fishing Company here in Todd, NC. A mule ramble forces you to slow down to the speed of grass, water and shelter. Oh, and apples. Riding through the High Country of North Carolina, Julia and our mules have ridden right… Continue reading

Todd Greetings

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End of the line…well the day at least. The mules tied to the caboose at RiverGirl Fishing Company in Todd, NC. We are spending the night here before heading toward West Jefferson.

The last 3 days we climbed the escarpment from Darby to Todd, NC. Highlights include catching up with Eustace Conway (Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Last American Man” / History Channel’s “Mountain Men”), roadside graham crackers and a gift of water when our throats were as dry as our water bottles.… Continue reading

Happy Valley Fiddlers Convention…by Mule

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Happy to be in Happy Valley: Julia and I arrive at the Happy Valley Fiddlers Convention. The 8 miles to get there took 5 hours. Hey, when you’re mule rambling, you gotta visit neighbors. (Happy Valley, NC)

Note: I’m writing to you from a mountain pasture with an internet connection as slim as a cow pie. That means I’ll have to post the full photo essay in parts. Here’s the first part, a glimpse in to our first days on… Continue reading

The Good-Enough-to-Get-You-Out-the-Gate Saddle Bags

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Mule Polly rockin’ her new (to us) pack saddle bags.

In starting mule trips, good enough gets you out the gate and perfection keeps you at home. This week I’m fitting mule Polly with bags for her pack saddle. They’re not new. They’re not perfect. But they’re good enough to get us out the gate. At least they don’t smell like vomit.

Julia and I are 2 weeks away from heading off on our mule ramble. I’m calling the caper… Continue reading

Cavallo Hoof Boots

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Our new Cavallo hoof boots. They’re the Trek model, a very generous gift from the manufacturer for our upcoming “Ride out the Front Gate” ride.

I use hoof boots on my mule’s hooves instead of steel shoes. I’ve done so for years, working my way up from boots I made with stuff I found in a dumpster, to the store bought kind. I use Easy Boots and Renegades.

This week hoof boot manufacturer Cavallo sent me 4 boots for… Continue reading

Booting Up

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Julia and mules Brick, Dusty and Polly. The black things on the mules’ feet are hoof boots. Polly is the mule I drove across America for the “Lost Sea Expedition” TV series.

This week, 3 weeks before we set off on our mule ramble, Julia and I are fitting our mules with boots. No, not the lace up kind or the rubber kind you might imagine. No, not the ones I made out of inner tubes 15 years ago. Rather,… Continue reading

Carpe Cool

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Shadow cast: Left to Right they are mule Dusty, Julia, mule Brick, me and mule Polly

Carpe Cool. Julia, the critters and I try to be on the trail first thing in the morning while the western North Carolina trails are still cool. Here, we’re riding out behind our house. We try to spend at least one or 2 hours in the saddle every day (Monday – Friday). This helps the animals’ hides – and ours -toughen up for our early September mule ramble.


Dealing with Chafe

Chafe probably isn’t something you worry about a lot. But since I’m about to take off on a saddle trip, it’s been on my mind a lot lately. Here’s a short video of how I dealt with chafe on the “Lost Sea Expedition” wagon voyage across America. It may come in handy if you decide one day to run away in a wagon. Much easier would be to just stream the “Lost Sea Expedition” series on Amazon!


Teaching Brick to Leg Picket

Hitting the road with your mule boils life down to basics: food, water, shelter. Right up there is keeping your mule from wandering away in the night. While you could tie her to a tree or post, she couldn’t lie down, roll or eat. Not cool. There are many ways to secure a mule. I prefer the leg picket. Here’s how I’m training Brick to the picket.


Catching Brick

A few days ago I wrote how I was going back to the “old ways”. Of just heading out the front gate with my mule and finding out what lies up the road. Turns out, I first had to catch that mule. Her name is Brick. She’s the mule I plan to ride on the “Ride out the Front Gate” trip. I’ve only owned her about a week and here’s how our first meeting went. Talk about a flashback to the “old ways”….


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