Mules West

A Coat From Cowboy Dave

For 20 summers he’s pushed cattle up and down the Greys River Valley, upstream in the spring, downstream in the fall. This week, he put the mules and me up. He fed us whiskey and camp cooked potatoes but left us with something way warmer than that. Meet Cowboy Dave.

Cowboy Dave (Greys River, Wyoming)

Leading up to Cowboy Dave

10 days ago, the mules and I headed out of Douglas, Wyoming, bound for Alpine. The first 60 miles took… Continue reading

Cowboy Dave’s Spurs

The measure of a western Wyoming cowboy.

His spurs don’t match and the rowels are gone and his boots are busted but he’s living life on his own terms. Tomorrow, Sunday morning, I’ll introduce you to the rest of the man: Cowboy Dave.

Pickle Jug Water Container

Salvation came from a bar. I was one water container short heading in to the sage brush country of Wyoming with my mules Brick and Cracker. Dale at the Miner’s Grubstake and Bar in Atlantic City gave me an empty one gallon pickle jar. With a twig and some twine, I turned it in to a makeshift water container.

Welcome to the Land of Good Enough: out here, you make do with what you find…

It’s working fine. Even if… Continue reading

3 Bullets in Grizz Country

The cowboy stopped his truck and said, “you need to watch out. Make sure you don’t sleep with any food in your tent. You’re in grizz country now..”

The cowboy: note the ammo belt and rounds behind his head.

In western Wyoming, “grizz” means grizzly bear.

An ammo belt was strapped around the back of his head rest. 3 rounds were tucked in to the leather loops. 3 rounds were missing.

I have zero bullets. That night I started hanging… Continue reading

Rocky Mountain Mule Saddle Frost

Is fall not cool enough for you yet? Here are some chill photos to cool you down a few degrees. They are from my camp along the Greys River (Wyoming) earlier this week.

Is this better? Some crisp frost and fall color for you.
My camp. I’ve been sleeping in my bivy bag. Big, toasty thanks to my wife Julia for sending me a warmer sleeping bag right when I needed it. Night time temps have dipped in to the… Continue reading

Seeking Mystery Dog Food Donor

The lady’s voice on my voicemail said (and I paraphrase):

“Hi Bernie. This is Debbie at the Central Wyoming Fairgrounds in Casper. We received a bag of dog food in your name. What would you like us to do with it?”

Fantastic! People are so generous out here. There’s only one problem with this well-intended gift.

I don’t own a dog.

That’s not my dog either. Here, a dog guarding sheep east of Douglas, Wyoming.

To the mystery donor I… Continue reading

Alpine, Wyoming Arrival

Mules Brick and Cracker and I have crossed McDougal gap and arrived in Alpine, Wyoming. The timing is perfect for getting off the mountain. Rain and snow at higher elevations are forecast for the next 4 days.

An Alpine moment with Brick: I had to hug both my mules’ heads in gratitude for carrying me safely across Wyoming. We are now only a few miles from Idaho.

Right now the mules and I are settling in to Alpine. We’re camped… Continue reading

Log of Days, Names and Miles

Most evenings after the mules are staked out for the night and my tent is pitched, I dig out my journal and write down how far we’ve come.

How far we’ve come: Days 98 – 100

I don’t write in a leather bound journal you might imagine Wild Bill communing with after a busy day shooting buffalo. No, my journal’s just a plastic binder filled with 50 sheets of loose leaf paper.

I think I brought 40 sheets too many.… Continue reading

Please Help

Cracker has learned 2 of the 3 Desert Mule Travel Rules.

  • Drink when you find water
  • Eat when you find food
  • Don’t eat prickly pears
Cracker: “Please help.”

Cracker’s still working on Rule 3.

Sage Land Behind Us, Mountains Ahead

200 miles of sagebrush, pronghorn antelope and frost numbed fingers are behind us. The mules and I have completed the leg from Casper, Wyoming to Pinedale.

Thawing out: this is the scene 4 days ago inside my tent. It’s 5:15 am and 25 degrees outside. The mules and I are at just under 8,000 feet at the base of Little Prospect Mountain 60 miles east of Atlantic City, Wyoming. That’s not a hat on my head. It’s a dish rag… Continue reading
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