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The Yosemite Mounted Patrol at the Bishop Mule Days Parade. From left to right: Yosemite Superintendent Michael Reynolds, Ranger Clif Ashley, Ranger James Cox carrying the American Flag, Ranger Heidi Edgecomb carrying the California State Flag, Ranger Justin Fey, and Yosemite Chief Ranger Kevin Killian. (NPS Photo)

Yosemite Mule Teams Win World Championships At Mule Days

The Yosemite Mounted Patrol and the Yosemite Packers in the Parade Arena at the 50th Annual Bishop Mule Days. (NPS Photo)

BISHOP — Two teams from Yosemite National Park captured World Championships this past weekend at the prestigious 50th annual Bishop Mule Days.

Yosemite National Park Superintendent Michael Reynolds on Wednesday recognized the accomplishments of the Yosemite Packers, who were honored as 2019 Mule Days’ World Champions after capturing first place in the Parade Pack Team category.

Meanwhile, the Yosemite Mounted Patrol also took home top honors, winning first place in the Mounted Horse Group category.

Mule Days bills itself as “a world-class equestrian event promoting the legacy, heritage and talents of the mule.”

Held over Memorial Day weekend, the colorful event features “the world’s longest mule parade” and brings hundreds of packers, outfitters and riders to Bishop.

This year, Mule Days took place May 21-26 and included a series of individual and team stock events, drawing more than 30,000 spectators.

The Yosemite Packers at the 50th Annual Bishop Mule Days. From left to right Justin Foust (on horseback), Liz Vanden Toorn, Joe Webb, and Aida Pereira_May 26 2019 (Photo Credit: Bishop Mule Days)

The Yosemite Packers that participated in Bishop last weekend included team members Justin Foust (lead), Aida Pereira, Joe Webb and Liz Vanden Toorn.

The team actually took part in a series of events over the week, in addition to participating in Saturday’s parade. Based on their overall performance, they were named the 2019 Bishop Mule Days World Champion Pack Team.

The winning Yosemite Mounted Patrol entry featured a four-person Color Guard line with Yosemite Rangers Clif Ashley, James Cox, Heidi Edgecomb and Justin Fey in the lead and the two-person dignitary line featuring Superintendent Reynolds and Chief Ranger Kevin Killian.

The Yosemite Mounted Patrol has been participating in Mule Days since 1970, when a team from the Park won First Place in Horse Mounted Group.

The Yosemite Packers are National Park Service employees who are part of the Park’s Roads and Trails Branch.

Reynolds says the Packers “play an integral role” in a variety of backcountry projects during the busy summer season, using pack animals to haul food and heavy project materials out to remote locations to support the park’s trail crews.

“The use of pack animals to meet the working needs of the park has been an important part of Yosemite National Park’s operations for over 100 years,” Reynolds explains.

“We are incredibly proud of the Yosemite Packers and Yosemite National Park’s participation in Mule Days,” notes Chief Ranger Killian. “We are honored to participate in Mule Days and to be part of this great traditional community event.”

“Yosemite National Park would like to extend its deep gratitude to Yosemite Conservancy for their generous support of the Park’s equestrian programs,” Reynolds adds.

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