Travellers from France on a journey via the back of a mule had the pleasure of experiencing some old-fashioned Cochrane hospitality while staying at an acreage on Sept. 26, for a short rest during their voyage.
The riders, Marie Delmas and Emile Brager, have been venturing across Alberta since Sept. 7, with the goal of travelling from Hummingbird Creek to Lethbridge.
Brager started the trip two years ago in Idaho, with the intent of travelling for two years across Canada and the United States.
His trip was cut short after arriving in Athabasca due to COVID-19. He returned this year in May with his 12-year-old son to finish the original journey before returning again to France. Brager came back to Alberta for his new venture that started in September, and is now accompanied by Delmas.
On their journey south, they had passed through Cochrane when Brian and Rita Dillabough offered them a place to camp on their anchorage after Rita noticed them cross Highway 1A.
“So, I just asked them where they’re from and where they were headed and she [Delmas] said they were from France, and I said ‘Oh! That’s a long way from home,’” Dillabough said. “She said they were headed to Lethbridge, but tonight [they] were wondering where they would set up camp.
“And I said, ‘Well, we can help.’”
Shortly after, the Dillaboughs helped load the mules and they returned to the Cochranites’ anchorage where they spent the night.
The trip will be done entirely by mule-back, with two of the animals being used for riding and two for carrying their packs.
“Jack and Sally are our pack mules,” Delmas explained. “JoJo and Curly are the riding mules.”
Delmas and Brager are part of an international guild in France that Brager started over 40 years ago with a friend. The guild is called Cavalier au long cours, which translates to ‘long distance rider.’ It has members from 11 countries.
“We said the guild was for a meeting for long riders,” Brager said. “So, you have people who rode for four months, six months, one year, two years, [and] five years in several countries.
“So, it’s very interesting to share friendship and experience, with a new competition spirit. So, this is just to share experiences, photos and help.”
“It’s very discreet,” Delmas translated for Brager.
“And so, we have very experienced riders like Emile,” she added. “He is the one who has done a four-year long trip from Patagonia to Alaska a long time ago.”
Delmas noted that although there are experienced riders like herself within the guild, there are also beginners who dream of achieving the feats already accomplished by Brager.
“We meet twice a year so we can support each other and share what we experience or [give] advice for people who would be planning something like that,” Delmas said. “It’s caring, sharing, and kind.”