The Top Hat Mystery

It fit my head when I got married. It fit my hat when I rode out the front gate. It doesn’t fit my hat any more. What the hell’s going on with my top hat?

Cracker, my top hat and me: here Cracker is inspecting my stitching as I repair the denim cover to one of my water jugs. This photo was taken 8 states ago, back when my top hat fit better.

Some Top Hat History

The mules and I travel light. There’s very little we carry that’s not essential: a few pounds of food, one pair of spare pants and not much more.

Okay, there is one non-essential piece of gear I’m carrying. It’s the top hat I got married in.

Gettin’ hithched. Julia and I at our wedding moments after we exchanged vows. Behind us our dear friend Keith Smith of On my head, the top hat in question. The resemblance to Mr Peanut is merely coincidental. Or is it the Monopoly man…?

For psychological reasons I don’t need to pay a head shrink $100 to solve, I brought my top hat on my current mule ramble. Moments before I rode out the front gate and headed West for the summer, I strapped it to the top of my pack saddle. It has ridden there ever since – over the Smokey Mountains, across the Great Plains and through the first Rocky Mountain snows.

A Brief Top Hat History

I bought my top hat in February 2019. Here is how it spent the next 6 months on my Mules West ramble.

April 6, 2019: heading out the front gate on the first day our our Mules West ramble Caldwell County, North Carolina)
The top hat riding in its default position – atop my pack saddle. I found the goggles on the side of the road in Tennessee.
My top hat has served as a water bucket for…
…a thirsty mule.
It’s been wrecked in Kentucky and..
…. and snowed on in Idaho.
It even made a guest appearance on Dave Vories’ head. (outside Vincennes, Indiana)
I’ve worn it to cross state lines.
It’s stored Easter eggs.
I’ve even worn it to fuel the mules.

And Then It Stopped Fitting

Some days I wear I wear my top hat. Most days I don’t. Lately, I’ve noticed it doesn’t fit my head so well anymore. It’s taken on a front-to-back stretch I can’t explain.

It’s like some man with a skull much longer and skinnier than mine has been wearing my top hat while I’m not looking.

But that can’t be because I’m traveling alone. Maybe what’s stretching it is the way it gets strapped on top of my bedroll every day. Maybe it’s the scorching it got this summer. Or the rain and snow that beat the shape out of a hat meant for the high life, not high adventure.

Another winter soaking.

Whatever’s deforming my top hat remains a mystery to me. And I need to solve it soon.

In a week or two, I hope to ride in to Hailey Idaho, final destination of my Mules West ramble. It would be a shame to slap my top hat on my head and miss the final moments because I passed out due to lack of blood flow to the brain.


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[…] few days ago I wrote how my top hat didn’t fit my head like like it used to. Like it’s been worn by another man. A man with a bigger, longer […]

Greg Boyer
Greg Boyer
4 years ago

What a pleasure to meet you. Wish you the best of luck with your travels. If I ever make it back to North Carolina I’ll try and look you up…..if your home ;0)

Best Regards

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