We Ride Sport and Trail Magazine October 2018 - Page 12

Jody and saw in her what I knew I too was experiencing – tears of joy and awe. I felt so small. It was absolutely magnificent. You can imagine all you want – but you can’t imagine what we saw. Upon seeing the Grand Canyon, one can fully appreciate why it is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The enormity of it boggles the mind. I wish I could find the words to describe it but the Grand Canyon is beyond words. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I looked to Jim, who was trying to breath and talk at the same time, finally getting the words out, “We’re really doing this.”

After signing releases and stepping on the scale – yes you have to step on it even if you look way under 200 pounds, we were each given a bag for our personal items, a 1-liter leather Bota bag for water, a “Mule Rider” rain parka, and instructions to meet at the Bright Angle Mule Corral at 6:45 the following morning. Of course we were there early, as it is our nature to never be late. As we watched the wranglers lead the mules in, I couldn’t help but check them all out, discounting some and settling my eyes on a nice looking dark brown Molly that reminded me of my mule, Beau. The Livery Manager called the riders together, for a brief (but serious) discussion about the ride ahead of us. We were asked about our riding experience, and then they let us know that all skill levels would be treated the same. Riders are not to mount or dismount without a wrangler by your side, if you “drop” something, ask the wrangler to stop and they will retrieve the item for you; showed us how to “plow” rein the mules – letting us know that while the mules were well trained, we were riders and needed to remember that.

We were shown how to cue the mules, hold the reins, and put them in “park”. All of the mules are fitted with a roping rein (single continual rein), with a loop tied in the middle, sized to slip over the saddle horn. When you stop your mule, with their neck hanging over the cliff, you slip the loop in your rein over the horn, which cues your mule that they are in “park.” When your wrangler asks everyone to stop, you turn your mule to face the canyon floor, hanging their head over the edge.

A mule will not step off a cliff in front of them, but they can inadvertently step off if turned to face away from the cliff. Just like us, they cannot see directly behind them.

Riders were reminded that whoa is a single pull back on the reins and a continual pull back means back-up. We were all given a switch to wear around our wrist to motivate our mule if needed.

Last Chance to Back Out

We received the “need to keep hydrated” talk. They provide the Bota Bags and we are encouraged to take a drink, every time we stop. Finally, we were told that we had a short distance to “back-out” of the ride and receive a full refund. There is no disgrace in doing so, and over the years many people have. However, once you start down the Canyon, if you want off, they will help you off. You will walk back, on your own, and there is no refund.

Before crossing Kaibab Bridge, you ride through a low and dark rock tunnel, offering a magnificent presentation to the bridge!

Jody and saw in her what I knew I too was experiencing –

tears of joy and awe. I felt so small. It was absolutely

magnificent. You can imagine all you want – but you can’t

imagine what we saw. Upon seeing the Grand Canyon, one

can fully appreciate why it is one of the seven natural

wonders of the world. The enormity of it boggles the mind.

I wish I could find the words to describe it but the Grand

Canyon is beyond words. It is one of the most beautiful

places I have ever seen. I looked to Jim, who was trying to

breath and talk at the same time, finally getting the words

out, “We’re really doing this.”

After signing releases and stepping on the scale – yes you

have to step on it even if you look way under 200 pounds,

we were each given a bag for our personal items, a 1-liter

leather Bota bag for water, a “Mule Rider” rain parka, and

instructions to meet at the Bright Angle Mule Corral at 6:45

the following morning. Of course we were there early, as

it is our nature to never be late. As we watched the

wranglers lead the mules in, I couldn’t help but check them

all out, discounting some and settling my eyes on a nice

looking dark brown Molly that reminded me of my mule,

Beau. The Livery Manager called the riders together, for a

brief (but serious) discussion about the ride ahead of us.

We were asked about our riding experience, and then they

let us know that all skill levels would be treated the same.

Riders are not to mount or dismount without a wrangler by

your side, if you “drop” something, ask the wrangler to stop

and they will retrieve the item for you; showed us how to

“plow” rein the mules – letting us know that while the mules

were well trained, we were riders and needed to remember

that.

We were shown how to cue the mules, hold the reins, and

put them in “park”. All of the mules are fitted with a roping

rein (single continual rein), with a loop tied in the middle,

sized to slip over the saddle horn. When you stop your

mule, with their neck hanging over the cliff, you slip the

loop in your rein over the horn, which cues your mule that

they are in “park.” When your wrangler asks everyone to

stop, you turn your mule to face the canyon floor, hanging

their head over the edge.

A mule will not step off a cliff in front of them,

but they can inadvertently step off if turned to

face away from the cliff. Just like us, they cannot

see directly behind them.

Riders were reminded that whoa is a single pull back on

the reins and a continual pull back means back-up. We

were all given a switch to wear around our wrist to motivate

our mule if needed.

Last Chance to Back Out

We received the “need to keep hydrated” talk. They provide

the Bota Bags and we are encouraged to take a drink, every

time we stop. Finally, we were told that we had a short

distance to “back-out” of the ride and receive a full refund.

There is no disgrace in doing so, and over the years many

people have. However, once you start down the Canyon, if

you want off, they will help you off. You will walk back, on

your own, and there is no refund.