Bronze's Expedition Log

Expedition Log

Managing Expectations

My mule being of the utmost importance to the successful persecution of the expedition, I have resolved to spend at least some small portion of each day with her, from now until our departure.  She has demonstrated her capacity for bearing and conveying my panniers, for standing quietly for grooming and body work, for generally obeying my commands and directions.  Likewise, I have come to a basic understanding of her handling, her care, and the usage of her attending equipment.  All of this knowledge will however want for employment should we lack that basic level of trust and camaraderie which will keep us working towards the same goal harmoniously.

Thus decided, I will hereafter devote a greater portion of my time to activities which she finds pleasurable and soothing–grooming, feeding, bodywork–in hopes that she might begin to look upon me with greater favor.  I have been led to believe that mules can develop very strong bonds with their owners, demonstrating loyalty and affection in the manner of a dog.  Such a bond will perhaps serve me far greater than any amount of skill in horsemanship, knot tying, or pack loading.bootsie-pack

I am of the opinion that if she can make it through the first two weeks, we will likely succeed in the expedition.  I believe they will be be the most difficult and fraught with uncertainty.  In fact, I have accordingly reduced my expectations for this period to such modest goals that success is almost assured.  For my first day I hope to make one mile.  For Day 2: two miles.  Day 3: three miles, and so on.  At this rate I should cover 21 miles in a week, an amount which could be done in a day by a seasoned back country explorer.  Such will be my equivalent of a “test run”–a chance to determine the relative merits and follies of my methods within proximity of home base.

Continuing on at the same acceleration of pace I will travel 55-60 miles during the next week, bringing me almost up to speed with my anticipated rate.  Still within a comfortable day’s journey from home, I will have the opportunity to discard or add items to my load as I see fit.  From here I will set off at a healthy pace of 13 mi/day, to be resupplied approximately every two weeks.

6 Responses to “Managing Expectations”

  1. Justin Simons says:

    what is your Mule’s name?

  2. bronze says:

    Pearl Boots. Code name: BOOTSIE

  3. Yvonne says:

    I commend your preparations, and applaud your idea of starting off slowly.

    Have you taken Bootsie on a trial run through Griffeth Park or ridden her on some horse trails in your area? Your narrative suggests your and her training all seem to be in corrals, open ground, or local park and housing developments. You will most likely need to cross streams on hilly terraine with her loaded down with packs. If you have not practiced this maneuver, I strongly suggest you do so. This type situation is difficult even for a practiced equestrian/woodsman.

  4. bronze says:

    Sagely suggestions, and some that I have taken you up on just today. Boots and I did about a 5 mile ride though dense foliage and rocky terrain, including 8 or 9 stream crossings and I’m pleased to say she performed admirably!

  5. Bill Watt says:

    Hi, I am Bill Watt, Amy Honey’s dad. She thought I would be interested in your travels and she was right. What a great thing to do. I certainly hope you enjoy it and it does every thing you want it to do for you. I have spent much time in the Sierras, backpacking, horse packing, etc. I am also somewhat of a horseman, team roping being my fun thing to do. sounds to me like you have really got your prep down pat. I wondered how you were going to handle the bears. I suspect they will be a potential problem, especially in the Nat’l Parks. On our last trip, the packer gave us two “bear boxes” which were aluminum boxes that fit in the panniers. Something to think about if you haven’t already. Good luck. Bill

  6. bronze says:

    Thanks for stopping by Bill. I just purchased 2 “Bear Vaults” from REI to store my pemmican. It just so happens each one barely fits a week’s supply of the stuff–about 12 lbs. It probably won’t be enough to keep them from sniffing around my camp, but at least they won’t be able to get into my precious food supply!