I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for mules ever since reading The Oregon Trail, Rinker Buck’s memoir about traveling the historic overland route with his brother in a covered wagon pulled by a team of three mules, Beck, Jake, and Bute.
As I hike the dirt trails within Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, I frequently encounter people riding horses. But yesterday was the first time I came face to face with a mule — and a very cute one! I was on the Pioneer Express Trail above Horseshoe Bar when this youngster came trotting by, following close behind two women on horseback as they encouraged him to keep up and called him “Brownie.” Since he was clearly curious about me, I put my hand out, palm down, and let him take a careful sniff before we continued on our separate ways.
I was sorry not to get a picture of our meeting and was hoping I might see Brownie again, although it didn’t seem very likely. So I was pretty happy when I spotted the trio returning along the trail just ahead of me. I’ll admit that when I went out to the lake yesterday I wasn’t expecting to wind up feeling a mule’s velvety muzzle on the back of my hand; but now I really wouldn’t mind running into a few more mules out on the trails.