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San Diego, CA, United States
I am 50-years-old, a 4th generation San Diegan and still live in the San Diego area with my dog. Writing is my emotional outlet and this blog is simply the organization of all my thoughts and feelings. It helps me to make sense of all the craziness in the world and in my life. With every experience I have and with every blog I write, I try to be a bit more introspective and seek to learn something new about myself. Sometimes I like what I learn, other times I don't, but such is my life. Welcome to it.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

I want to be a Mountain Man

The life of a Mountain Man fascinates me.

I recently went to the Manzanita High Mountain Rendezvous in Lake Morena Village, California.  Lake Morena is about an hour east from downtown San Diego on Interstate 8.

I’ve been to several mountain man and living history events over the years.  I think my first rendezvous was in 2007 in Santa Ysabel, CA.  I like the Manzanita Rendezvous because it’s close to home, but there are several throughout San Diego County that I go to.  I always know it’s time for the Manzanita Rendezvous, because I see the red buffalo signs pointing the way to the Northcote Ranch, which is where it’s held.

This year I was especially excited to go, because I brought along my friend, LaRee.  I had several reasons for asking her to go with me.  One, we are both photographers and this was an event brimming with photography opportunities, so I knew she’d like to go.  

Second, I am sometimes uncomfortable approaching strangers and my attempts at idle chit chat come off very awkward, if not a bit creepy.  This isn’t a good thing for a photographer, but LaRee has no problems with striking up conversations with people.  

I figured I’d let her take the lead and then I’d stand behind her and take pictures as she engaged the Mountain Men, but really, I asked her to go because I enjoy her company.  Regardless of my reasonings, we had a good time and met some really nice Mountain Men.

Their lives fascinate me because it looks like fun and I want to be a Mountain Man.  

A mountain man is a trapper and explorer who lives in the wilderness.  That sounds like a fantastic adventure for a girl who has lived her entire life in a big city.  

Being out in nature with an endless horizon, feeling the warmth of the sun on my cheeks and the wind tousling my hair, and then falling asleep to the sounds of real nature and not the sounds from my soundscape machine appeals tremendously to me.  

Plus, I love the stars and enjoy lying outside just gazing into the vastness above.  I imagine their life a peaceful one.  

Hanging out in camp, playing cards, and just being free.  I don’t think I fully realize the struggles Mountain Men faced on a daily basis or the tremendous amount of work that goes into living that kind of lifestyle.  

Mountain Men go camping.  I love camping and the teepees and tents we went inside at the rendezvous looked so cozy I actually wanted to take a nap in one.  My husband and I have gone camping before, but since he always pitches the tent, I would probably have to learn how to put one up.  

Ah, how hard could it be?  Just insert a few tent poles here and there and voila! a tent, but I think I prefer a teepee.  I am currently pricing teepees on Amazon, but something tells me Mountain Men didn’t have the Internet or UPS delivery service for their supplies….

Mountain Men hunt and trap.  I have shot many things, but it has always been with my camera.  I have never been hunting.  I did shoot a rat once with a BB gun.  It was on our back porch.  I think it was already dead, though, or dying, because it just sat there unmoving as I got close to it.  The only thing I've ever trapped was a mouse in a mouse trap and it was gross. I do like to fish, however, and I am not afraid to put my own worm on my fishing hook.  I will even clean any fish I catch!

Mountain Men cook their food over a campfire. The aromatic bouquet of wood smoke wafting through the air and the sizzling of steaks in a cast iron pan sounds wonderful.  Mountain Men probably didn’t have the makings for s’mores, but I would still bring along Hershey chocolate bars and a big bag of Stay Puft marshmallows.  

We’d sit around the campfire telling ghost stories and sipping hot chocolate all night, wrapped in our Snuggie blankets.  I know they didn’t start their fires using Bic lighters, so I’d have to learn how to make fire by banging rocks together or spinning sticks or something.  I've been told fire is an important component for survival.

In my fantasies,  all Mountain Men are strong and muscled, perhaps resembling Fabio in fringed buckskins with feathers and beads in their long, flowing hair and I surmise that during the hot summer months, they wear very little so their skin is beautifully sun kissed.

I imagine life for them is romantic and grandiose.  They are reckless, spirited, and brave!  They are bad boys and make the ladies hearts swoon!  But in reality, I don’t think their life is anything like that.  

How long would I last if I really did try living that kind of life?  A pre-1840s Mountain Man (or woman) kind of life?  

Trapping. Hunting. Just trying to survive day-to-day and not die of starvation or scurvy.  There’s no wi-fi in their tents (if they had tents at all), no Netflix, no microwaves to cook their popcorn, no cars to get them to 7-11 when their supply of Cheetohs ran low, no refrigerator to keep their Coca Cola cold (because who likes warm soda? It sucks!).

In my mind, yeah, I can do it, but realistically how long would it take before I’d miss the comfort of my Sleep Number Mattress set at 55, a warm shower, and a clean pair of underwear and socks?  

I cannot stand to have dirty feet, so clean socks is paramount to my continued survival.  I don’t think Mountain Men even wore socks, let alone had a Kenmore Elite 5.2 cubic foot top load washer with steam treatment to wash their stank clothes!  

I could probably last a week or two, but that’s being optimistic. I have absolutely no wilderness skills, so more likely, I’d be dead before the end of the first day, killed by a grizzly bear or drowned because I can’t swim very well.  Probably die of Facebook withdrawals within a few hours.  

Although the life of a Mountain Man fascinates me,  it’s dirty and rough.  For now I think it's safer for me to remain just another Mountain Man Groupie.  I'll be happier too, knowing I can change into a clean pair of socks whenever I want.