It all started with high hopes and lots of planning. Andrea and I went up early to set things up. Timber and Reggie would come on Friday night. Going early allowed us to get the canyon ready for the event and to let the town of Raton know the Rendezvous would start on June 11. The weather was beautiful, really dry, but the first 3 days we were blessed with an afternoon shower that cooled things down and things started to green up if you looked hard enough. By Thursday we hoped we were ready, because the people started coming in. By Sunday night opening campfire, we had about 125 camps. The full count of camps by Saturday’s campfire was 175. I am very grateful to all who attended.
Mountain men and women came from all over the country brought their wares and camaraderie. There were several firsts for the Santa Fe Trails Rendezvous. First, of course, is the fact that I was the first woman Booshway. Wow, what a job. This broke the ice; and in two years the Booshway will be Shea Stone, a young lady that will do a terrific job.
Second, the camp had the pleasure of Storm Dancer and her beaver skinning demonstration. Not only was there one beaver, but two and the camp shared in the meat and everyone enjoyed at least a bite of beaver stew. Storm Dancer had help of several “knowledgeable” old mountain men, but the young man that stuck with Julie till the end was Cody W. They both worked almost a full day skinning and stretching the hide of each beaver. Storm Dancer will need to let us know her own story of the skinning.
Third, the camp experienced an event that is rarely seen and had not bee seen at SFTR before. A black bear had been hit on I-25 north of Raton and the Forest Service gave the Mountain Man Bear from Zuni the honor of skinning it. He and another trader, who was later named at council fire Bear Skinner, worked with stone tools to skin the bear; demonstrating the ancient art of skinning and then blessing the animal and those that assisted in the skinning. It was very moving. The next day the Forest Service returned with a 2 month old cub that had been shot out of a tree by an angry chicken farmer. That one was also skinned, blessed, and given over to the Great Spirit.
Fourth, the Mayor of Raton made a first-time visit on Tuesday. He then returned with his wife and son three more days. His son was introduced to primitive archery and he told me he would return next year to compete. He traded a skin for a bow and arrows. The mayor and his wife said they would return, also. They had a good time and enjoyed the food and friendship.
The week went on and the activities were many - shooting guns and bows, throwing knives, running the mountain man run, surviving the survival run, and at the end of the day, enjoying food of various kinds, not to mention the late night poker game at John’s.
The mountain man run was again a test of skill and determination as Waits to Shoot set it up to test what the participants were made of. It was defiantly a “run” this year.
The survival walk became a real thing when one of the participates stepped on a "real live" rattle snake. Walks on a Rope and Red Wing were credited with making this years walk "authentic". The survivors were seen all through the week nursing wounds and sporting bandages.
The knife and hawk competition was exciting too. Many Scars put on a good throw every day. The perversion was as normal - perverted. That went on all week. Everyone that participated went away hating rubber bands more and more.
The trail walks had to be consolidated because of the fire danger; but 15 shots seemed to be good for most people. It must have been harder than Timber and I thought. There were only a couple of perfect scores.
There were new people from different areas and lots of traders to trade with. The weather was cooperative. When people asked for air conditioning, the wind blew and wow, did it blow. When they asked for moisture, it rained. When they asked for clean hooters, they finally came to clean more often (thanks to Mike and Wayne at Whittington - more people earlier than they thought). I do believe the Great Spirit was watching and blessing the event.
The kids were busy as Tatonka Sue did her normal excellent job of playing games, doing crafts, and giving the kids activities. Thank you, Sue. Pack Mule was busy being the head dog soldier keeping things safe and secure. Thanks to you too. Casey and Meca were seen throughout camp being my legs - changing schedules, announcing changes and activities, as well as enjoying their own activities. They saved me many steps and I do thank them.
The finale of the event was the "fire". After campfire Saturday evening, everyone was going back to their camps to eat dinner when all at once the cry of FIRE went out. Looking across the creek to the west was a haze of blue smoke among the trees. The entire camp picked up whatever water container, pot, bucket, fire extinguisher, or camels they could find and ran to the end of camp. I myself ran to the jeep to call 911. I caught up with Mike from Whittington and we turned around and went back to camp. When we got back, Myron met us and said it was not a fire like we thought. One of the camps had purchased a new grill from Ron Dorr and decided to make hamburgers. Well, the grill was propane, like it was supposed to be, but as the burgers seeped their grease, a fire within the grill started. The cook told me that when the gas was turned off to the grill and she turned around, there was a young man, Tye, standing there with a camel on his back asking where the fire was The cook said what fire. He said he had seen the blaze. By the way, he had run back to his camp which was on the east end of the main camp, picked up the camel, and run back to her camp before anyone else. By this time the entire camp was standing around the grill looking for a fire. All was safe and everyone then went back to their own meals. Wow! What a scare, but it was practice and I will say the entire camp turned out and was ready to stop the fire. The cook was surprised when everyone showed up at her place for dinner and had so much gear to go with it. Glad that was all it was.
Sunday was breakdown and everyone said their goodbyes, packed up, and waved saying they would see each other down the trail next year.
I want to thank all of the participants. Without everyone’s help it would not have been a success. Andrea, my daughter, and prize organizer was so good that the people putting on the shoots told me they had never had their prizes delivered before an event and were grateful to her for being so organized. I, too, would like to thank her for her time and trouble. She did do a great job, and it was one more thing I did not need to be concerned about. Timber, as everyone knows, is my right hand not only at the rendezvous but everywhere else; and he was everywhere doing everything.
To those I did not have room to acknowledge, my hat is off to you and I will never forget your support, help, and kindness. I also want to thank those people that drove to the event even though gas prices were high and the weather was dry, without them it would not have been so successful. I saw friends that made a special trip to be there and I feel privileged to have their gift of friendship and love. Thanks again to everyone. See you at Raton next year.
Does It All