"If the very old will remember, the very young will listen." - Chief Dan George
He's a cowboy for sure. His hat, honest words, smile, and a horse called Tops were all I needed to know about him. For the longest time, I thought his first name was Harvey. Everybody called him Harvey, and so did I for years.
One day, a bit embarrassed, I asked: "Harvey, what's your last name." "Well, that is my last name, my first name is Jim," he replied. That was nearly 30 years ago.
Today, I'm at the 50th Bishop Mule Days in 2021. He's easy to spot. These days, he's not on a horse but at his security post. He's behind the scenes, yet, knows all the events that are occurring. Most people who pass his station stop to say hello and pay respects. A few old-timers linger longer.
I sit next to Jim and we share stories of earlier days in the Sierra. He proudly tells me: "This is my 50th Bishop Mule Days. Yesterday was my 85th birthday, born May 28, 1936." When I do the math, he was about 35 years old when he first competed at these events. Old-timers say that he was one of the best all-around cowboys/packers at the events. Jim taught me everything I know about horses, mules, and camping in the backcountry of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
Some call him a "horse whisperer."
Today, I ride an iron horse and share some moments from the 50th Bishop Mule Days, camping in the Alabama Hills at the base of Mount Whitney.
|I love Highway 395 and this view towards Mount Whitney.|
|My campsite always comes with a view.|
|The views take my breath away.|
|My morning view from base camp.|
|The National Park Service has always had a presence at the Bishop Mule Days.|
|The best views are where the action begins.|
|This cowgirl beat the boys today.|
|Cowboys riding hard for a finish.|
|Action at the scramble event.|
|Farewell Sierra range.|
|My last camp view was special from the Alabama Hills.|