Memories of Mule Days

Several weeks before Memorial Day each year, we had to get our trail crew pack mules ready for the big Mule Days parade in Bishop, Ca.

When we pulled them off their winter pasture at Wells Meadow to bring them into the Bishop Tack room on Line St., they were a scruffy but frisky lot.

Then again, they knew what was up and that it was time to start another joyous season of work in the backcountry of the beautiful Eastern Sierra.  Their whole life existed for that one moment and effort to build and maintain the mountain trails for the enjoyment and safety of the American public.

If we wanted to win that Governor’s trophy, we knew we had to get to work fast.  All the tack had to be cleaned and oiled.  New ropes had to be braided, while each mule and horse was shod.

Next, we had to roach the mane, shave and comb out the tail, trim the ears and face, shave down the legs, wash and comb and wash and comb some more.

The mules loved all the attention, and especially the sweet oats they were getting fed every day.

All that was left on parade day was to blacken their hooves and pack them absolutely perfectly.

Out of the corral we would ride and down the street into town to enter the parade procession. The mules performed their routine as good as mules can do it and looked spectacular.  We won the Best Government Pack String award and that is how we always began our summer season of work in the backcountry of the Sierra.

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