Six Days and a Mule — What I Learned in the High Sierras

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Photo by Greg Pearson, used with permission.

In July of 2018 I took a trip around California, which included a six day trail ride in the largest roadless wilderness in the United States. (The trip also included, perhaps inevitably, fires, mudslides and hail storms. Because California).

This kind of trip isn’t for everyone, but is an incredible experience if you’re fit, reasonably healthy, and not afraid to be completely without most modern conveniences for a few days. (Note, one person on the trip used a CPAP. He had a solar charger for it).

But as for things I learned?

We Have a Narrow Definition of Road

One of the trails we took, the trail over Momo Pass, is an ancient pass used by indigenous people to take trade goods over the mountains.

It’s a road.

By “roadless wilderness” we mean “no roads you can take a car on.”

This was a road that was suited to mules and horses and men and women on foot.

I’ve never been to south America, but this is what the Inca roads were like.

I got a whole new understanding of why they didn’t use wheels! The most efficient means of transportation was the one I was sitting on (his name, by the way, is Punch).

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Mules Like Cantalope Rind

Maybe we should call it canter-lope rind? “Can I give him my rind?” got an answer of yes…

…and a literal equine happy dance. He wasn’t the only mule to be apparently addicted to the stuff. The horses were less enthused…although happy to try it.

Putting Up a Strange Tent at 10,000 Feet is Entertaining — For Everyone Else

It was an easy tent, dangit! It still took us several minutes to sort it out while the (fully acclimated) wranglers laughed.

Yes, we were a little impaired. It was a very nice tent, though.

In the Wilderness, Everyone is Friends

And the most important thing? A reminder that when you’re two days’ ride from civilization (including medical care), everyone becomes friends.

You stop caring about anyone’s views, because you have to work together to survive.

The outside world stops mattering. Keeping away those dang mosquitoes? Now that’s important. (And there were a lot of mosquitoes).

Written by

Freelance writer, freelance editor, novelist and short story writer. Jack of many trades.

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