The distance was about 18 miles from my home and it was approximately 30 mule loads! I was the only one who bid on this job out of 18 outfitters ! It was sept 6 and I needed to have it in before the 12 th! Some of the beams were 24 feet long . I had my great string of mules I had just bought the year before from Rufus Reese! Their names all started with R. I was so proud if them. First Day we tandem packed all the heavy long ones ! Dave Poncin And Richard Doney were with me. It was going to be a long day because we needed to turn around and come back that night. All was going well and when Dave took this picture of me we ran into the new Reverend Bill Young and his friend! He said I’ve got a pack horse & There are two of us! On a narrow trail, like the rock slide it is an old mountain custom to give way to the most stock!
Well he saw Dave and thought he was alone !!! He then saw all of my long ears and lumber and the look on his face is fresh as if it just happened! He never thought you could pack like this . After our passing him we never met another soul and made it to Specimen with a few minor problems! After we unpacked we started out and it was so dark you couldn’t see the hand in front of your face ! We had put a bell in the last mule so I could hear if any got loose or were in trouble ! Well 5 days before someone lost a horse on the lower trail that we were coming out on. We went in on high trail because no switchbacks to navigate ! The horse they lost had broken a leg and the forest service blew it up with dynamite. To keep the bears from eating it! Well three were little pieces of meat all over and a grizzly with cubs looking for it like popcorn.Our horses were scared to death and the mules were bunching! This was all at a L shaped Bridge! There were trees everywhere, pitch black and my bay horse was snorting and Blowing fire. I knew we were In for it !
Well I started talking to those Old Tennessee mules and Dave was hollering get out of here to the bears !!! We made it through those trees and Downfall and not one mule went around a tree !! Amazing! After we got out of the bad part of the trail we made good time and got home at 230 am! We were up next morning and it was just Dave and I as Richard had to be back in school !
We made it in and out with no major wrecks! To this day when I ride across that bridge I remember those two long nights. I am proud of that accomplishment and glad we bid on it! If you want to make Memories you need to stick your chest out and say ill pack that it I’ll ride him or I’ll dance that dance and dang sure mean it !!!