By Henri Migala
October 16, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) -- If you’ve ever seen the classic 1972 movie, Jeremiah Johnson, played by Robert Redford, about the golden age of Mountain Men, you might remember the last line of the movie, “…. and some men say, he’s up there still.”
Well, this weekend, Oct 16-17, you might not be able to find Jeremiah Johnson, but will be able to experience the life and times of real mountain men and women at the Laguna Mountain Rendezvous. Find details for the 2021 event on their Facebook page.
Laguna Mountain Rendezvous
According to their website, the Laguna Mountain Rendezvous may not be quite as wild and crazy as a rendezvous in the Rocky Mountains of 1830, but we do give it a good try. Men, women and children dressed in their mountain man, Indian or even colonial outfits, gather together to do the best we can to live in the past. Primitive camps, period traders, demonstrations, competitions, music, food & drink and lots of friendly people make the Laguna Mountain Rendezvous a great place to visit.
You do not have to be a member to come and enjoy the rendezvous. Day visitors can shop, eat, try their hand at primitive skills and enjoy the beautiful mountain setting of the rendezvous. Don’t forget your camera. There is a lot of interesting things to photograph.
There will be demonstrations of primitive survival skills such as cooking, took making, tomahawk throwing, archery and black powder target shooting, that will make this event an unforgettable experience for young and old alike.
The Laguna Mountain Rendezvous group “is based on the Mountain Man era of America by participating in pres-1840 living history. As a living history organization, we are involved in teaching, learning, experiencing, living and enjoying the activities associated with the fur trade of the early 1800’s.”
Although the rendezvous is going on from Oct 16-23, with participants camping the entire week, day visitors are welcome form 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, October 16-17. There is no charge for coming for the day. To camp at the rendezvous, you need to camp and dress “primitive”, meaning, with equipment and attire consistent with the era of the fur trade from 1805-1840. There is a fee for camping.
History of the Rendezvous (from the Laguna Mountain website)
Prior to 1825 at the end of the winters trapping season, the fur trappers had to carry their furs to St. Louis to be sold to the fur companies. They would then purchase the many supplies they would need for the upcoming trapping season and then begin the long journey back to the mountains.
General William Ashley of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company started the tradition of the rendezvous in 1825. He decided to bring the supplies to the mountain men thereby creating a monopoly of buying furs and selling supplies.
What began as a practical gathering to exchange pelts for supplies and reorganize trapping units soon evolved into a month-long carnival in the middle of the wilderness. The gathering was not confined to just trappers; it also attracted Indians and travelers.
James Beckworth described the festivities as a scene of "mirth, songs, dancing, shouting, trading, running, jumping, singing, racing, target-shooting, spinning yarns, frolic, with all sorts of extravagances that white men or Indians could invent were freely indulged in.” An easterner gave his view: "mountain companies are all assembled on this season (at rendezvous) and make as crazy a set of men I ever saw."
The last Rendezvous was held in 1840 on the Green River near today’s Pinedale, Wyoming.
The Laguna Mountain Rendezvous will be held at the Mataguay Scout Reservation, 27955 Hwy 79, Santa Ysabel.
Follow the Red Buffalo signs, which will be posted where highways 79 and 76, and highways 79 and 78 come together, and will direct you to the ranch. Turn right into Mataguay Scout Reservation, go 3 miles to a sign that says Wild Spirit Ranch, there will be a Red Buffalo sign. turn right and parking signs will be visible.
Day visitors are welcome on Saturday and Sunday, October 16-17, form 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There is no charge for coming for the day.
To camp at the rendezvous, you need to camp and dress “primitive”, meaning, with equipment and attire consistent with the era of the fur trade from 1805-1840.
There is a fee for camping that can be paid on-site.
The only exception to adhering to time-period authenticity is fire. Due to fire hazards, no open fires will be allowed. Only propane fires.