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 gear we’re taking on our trip. We traveled 10 miles just to make sure everything held together okay.

Bernie Harberts, window, cabin

In many ways, these past days have been wonderfully ordinary. Flowers in the window. But if you look closely at the pasture….

Bernie Harberts, window, cabin

…you’ll see Brick napping in the sunshine.

Bernie Harberts, window, cabin

Both mules enjoy grazing on their pickets outside our cabin.

Bernie Harberts, window, cabin

County life goes on. Our neighbor James spreads the chicken manure on the hay pasture.

Bernie Harberts, wasp, flower

A wasp climbs on the flowers in the window.

Bernie Harberts, mule

Then things get serious. Thursday, 2 days before I depart, I load all my gear on Brick and Cracker for a final trial run. Spreading stuff out on the tarp makes it easy to organize what goes where.

Bernie Harberts, window, cabin

My view of my chargers. Grand! I’m riding Brick and leading Cracker who’s serving as pack mule.

Bernie Harberts, pack saddle gear

This afternoon, I repacked my gear. The bulk of my supplies are carried in 2 army rucksacks. They are labeled E and F for Equipment and Food. The contents of each backpack goes in to a waterproof blue sack.

Bernie Harberts, pack saddle gear

For maximum compression, I roll and wrap each item of clothing with rope. This saves an incredible amount of room.

Bernie Harberts, pack saddle gear

For sentimental reasons I packed a tiny bottle of water from our creek. I’ll pour it out wherever our journey ends. I’m also toting some stronger stuff I’ll pour in to me along the way..

Bernie Harberts, pack saddle, army rucksack, rucksack

And we’re packed! This is the bulk of what I’m carrying on my journey. Most of this gear goes on the pack mule. Each army ruck weighs about 28 pounds. All up, the pack mule carries less than 100 pounds. That’s including the pack saddle. That’s considered a light load by percentage of their weight. Brick and Cracker weigh just under 850 pounds.

In the morning, I will ride out the gate and ride toward Anita Alta horse camp. Twenty miles away, it snuggles up against the Pisgah National Forest. The next day I will ride to Globe before winding higher and higher in to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Bernie Harberts, blue ridge parkway

The view from the Blue Ride Mountains looking down at our route. (outside Gragg, NC)

I will miss the hell out of Julia. She’s not coming on this trip. She sketched me a wonderful drawing of Brick, Cracker and me starting our journey. I thought you’d enjoy it.

Julia carpenter, note

The sketch Julia made for me the night before I rode off on my mules.

I sure look forward to keeping you posted from the road.


2019-04-06 07:58:38

Success to you! Looking forward to your posts. Your book is really good…write another.

Aileen Dickman
2019-04-06 08:12:47

Good luck and a safe, safe trip! Looking forward to following your trip!

Bob Bourdon
2019-04-06 09:11:41

Good to see you enjoying life. Best of luck and safe travel . Will enjoy your travels as you go along

Theus Badenhorst
2019-04-06 11:19:11
All the best for your trip and good on you for doing it. Going to be life altering. Promise. I want to follow you. Mule rider too.

Bob Skelding
2019-04-06 13:26:27

Bon Voyage my good friend. I hope your travels are safe, fun and full of adventure!

Tammy Snodgrass
2019-04-07 18:18:00

If you come thru Chattanooga area and need a pasture to rest in let me know. I have 11 acres fenced.. Best of luck to you in your travels. Look forward to reading your blog.

Todd Bryant
2019-04-08 02:55:08

I have so enjoyed reading your blogs, and especially loved watching you wagon journey. Hope you have a wonderful trip. Should you come our way (the northern edge of the Olympic Peninsula) we have room for you. We would be honored with a visit.

Bernie Harberts
2019-04-13 15:46:30

Howdy all. Wow, I’m so moved by all your comments and thoughts. This really motivates me to keep posting about life on the road with mules. Thanks! ‘til next time. Bernie

andy cadwallader
2019-05-06 09:03:01

Hi Bernie ..
Hoping everything is going ok ..
Sending an as i’m interested in doing a
Long Ride .. unfortunately I’m in the Uk
Just waiting for retirement and doing a lot of reading .. i could do with talking with someone who has done a Long Ride ..

Bernie Harberts
2019-05-06 20:35:52

Howdy Andy. Great hearing from you. That’s great you’re thinking of a Long Ride. The UK would be a super place. You mentioned reading. Have you run across “The Horse Travel Handbook” by CuChullaine O’Reilly? It’s put out by the Long Riders Guild. Also the Encyclopaedia. Great references for long distance voyaging. All the best in your preps. Keep me posted! Bernie / mule Brick / Mule Cracker / presently in Speck, KY
PS: if you haven’t seen it already, you might be interested in my wagon voyage across America. Not long Riding by long Driving. Available in the UK on Amazon. The link:


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