Ride out the Front Gate

Riding the Wave

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Ridin’ the mule wave. My mule Brick and I on one of the high points of our mule ramble. (Outside Todd, NC)

Our mule ramble is taking on the character of a wave train. One moment we’re on a wave peak (plenty of food and water), the next we’re in the trough (run out of water but, good news, there’s a hurricane coming). Julia writes of this week’s highs and lows at ConsideringAnimals.com.

Bottle Cabin

Varnished luxury log cabins trimmed with fake rocks to red clay chinked cabins. Our mule ramble through the western North Carolina High Country has exposed us to the full range of abodes. I lean toward the rustic side of the range. This low slung cabin caught my eye. It’s on Eustace Conway’s Turtle Island Preserve.

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Dave Demour – aka “TT Taylor” aka “Totem Todd Taylor”: stone layer, philosopher, and piano player. Here, bursting in to song at the RiverGirl Fishing… Continue reading

What's a Mule to Drink

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Mule ramble up the New River. The New River is though to be the world’s second oldest river after the Nile.(outside Todd, NC)

In western North Carolina, it’s water, water everywhere. But where’s a mule to drink? Every day, our mules need to drink a few gallons to keep the mule ramble moving up the road. But water’s too heavy to carry so we have to pick it up as we go. This leads to some odd watering sites: puddles,… Continue reading

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 Boot Review: First Impression

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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.

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