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RodF
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RodF
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PostSat Dec 23, 2017 6:13 pm 
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Olympic National Park's pack mules escaped from their winter pasture near Sequim yesterday.  28 mules took an 8-mile hike on county roads and city streets for an hour before being rounded up.  Link to local newspaper story.  They must've had cabin fever!

Olympic National Park has 4 packers leading mule pack trains in support of maintenance of its 600 miles of wilderness trails.  Trail crews typically work 10 day shifts at sites 10 to 20 miles from the trailheads.  Pack mules carry the tools, materials, food and camp gear to support their work in all weather.  Each mule can pack about 125 pounds of gear about 10 miles and return in a day.  (That's the equivalent of what 4 workers could pack if taken off trail work to act as sherpas.  So mules double the amount of trail work they can accomplish.)  At the peak of the work season, over a hundred seasonal and volunteer trail workers are at work on a dozen trails across the park.

Except for a brief failed attempt to replace pack mules with human sherpas and helicopters in the 1970s, mules have been used in Olympic for trail construction and maintenance since the first O'Neil expedition of 1875 and throughout Olympic National Forest's and Park's history.  The Park's mule packing operations are based at the Elwha mule barn, located at the junction of Olympic Hot Springs and Whiskey Bend Roads.  The road is currently closed by recent flooding as discussed here.  If the road can't be made usable for stock trailers next spring, trail maintenance throughout the Park will be affected.  Mules are moved to winter pasture near Sequim from October through April.

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"of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt" - John Muir
"the wild is not the opposite of cultivated.  It is the opposite of the captivated” - Vandana Shiva
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puzzlr
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puzzlr
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PostSat Dec 23, 2017 10:02 pm 
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Interesting story and background

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Kat
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PostSun Dec 24, 2017 4:11 am 
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That's a lot of mules to escape at one time! Must have been quite the sight.
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Gregory
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Gregory
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PostSun Dec 24, 2017 6:37 am 
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They do not know how the mules got out as there were no fences pushed over?
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Seventy2002
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PostSun Dec 24, 2017 10:48 am 
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Gregory wrote:
They do not know how the mules got out as there were no fences pushed over?

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Chico
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PostSun Dec 24, 2017 11:52 am 
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You got it Seventy2002! That or someone let them out and put the rails back up or closed the gate!

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AlpineRose
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AlpineRose
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PostSun Dec 24, 2017 3:47 pm 
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Horses have the natural ability to jump.  I'm guessing mules do too.
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Chico
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PostSun Dec 24, 2017 8:05 pm 
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Mules have the ability to do a standing jump hence the image. Horses need a running start.

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treeswarper
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treeswarper
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PostMon Dec 25, 2017 5:24 am 
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Chico wrote:
Mules have the ability to do a standing jump hence the image. Horses need a running start.

I was looking that up.  It looks to be a competition at various mule days celebration and is called coon jumping.

There also are mules entered in show jumping and one is apparently competing to be on the national dressage team.

If you want to read about mules, this book about following the Oregon Trail is a good one.  It is called The Oregon Trail and the author is Rinker Buck.  There's a lot of mulology in the book.

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DigitalJanitor
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DigitalJanitor
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PostTue Dec 26, 2017 9:58 am 
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Mules jump like deer!

I worked with a lot of horses growing up, then got a chance to break out an Arab mule for a friend near Easton years ago. It was a very interesting and educational project as it was sorta like training a #1,000 dog in terms of brain power. Waaaaay more going on upstairs than your average horse, and sometimes they're a little more opaque about their opinions until the last minute. They're also very clever about how they move their body around through obstacles.

The power of these animals seems like more than what you'd get out of a similar sized horse, and I say that having rode a couple horses that came off the track.

A mistreated horse is a potential hazard, but a mistreated mule... I don't even wanna think about it. They seem like they develop very strong bonds to individual people with time, but they don't just immediately trust whoever shows up and acts like they're in charge.

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Chico
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Chico
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PostTue Dec 26, 2017 11:24 am 
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DigitalJanitor wrote:
Mules jump like deer!

I've seen deer hop over an 8 foot game fence but they run along side it, bounding and poof, over they go.

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Snowdog
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PostWed Dec 27, 2017 10:43 am 
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This is so funny!  28 mules out hikin' around.  Wish I'd seen it.


love this observation too:
DigitalJanitor wrote:
It was a very interesting and educational project as it was sorta like training a #1,000 dog in terms of brain power. Waaaaay more going on upstairs than your average horse, and sometimes they're a little more opaque about their opinions until the last minute.


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ale_capone
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ale_capone
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PostWed Dec 27, 2017 12:40 pm 
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Had to you tube it. I had no idea mules could jump like that! Cool.
Now I want one. You think a mule would wear snow shoes?

A few winters ago I had a dream I heard horses. Went outside and found hoove prints all over some exposed areas of lawn. Power outage/ electric gate failure. Local herd escaped from sky valley ranch. Wish I had woke up.
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Kascadia
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Kascadia
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PostWed Dec 27, 2017 5:23 pm 
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treeswarper wrote:
one is apparently competing to be on the national dressage team

Competing at the USDF finals is not competing to be on the Olympic team.  Dressage training consists of defined "levels" and the top competititors from each region at each level compete at the USDF finals.  But only horses at the very highest levels (Int II and particularly, Grand Prix) are competing to be on the Olympic team.  It is a very, very long way from training level to Grand Prix.

It is very cool, though, that people are doing this type of work with mules.
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Forum Index > Trail Talk > Mules take a hike
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