Have you ever wondered what it was like to live as a mountain man? Trekking through the wilderness as a trapper or frontier explorer? Journeying through the untamed American West as a trader, prospector, scout or pioneer?
What would it be like to leave the comforts and routine obligations of a civilized life behind? To go where few had gone before, finding your own way over rugged mountains, across uncharted rivers, living on the land, camping beneath the stars?
Today I learned a little of what that was like. I drove an hour east of San Diego to Northcote Ranch to enjoy the 26th Annual Manzanita High Mountain Rendezvous!
This modern reenactment of an historic Rocky Mountain rendezvous takes place in the beautiful countryside near Lake Morena. It attracts reenactors and visiting history buffs, school students and families from all around the Southwest. Every single participant I met was extremely friendly. They showed me and other visitors around with enthusiasm.
I observed many participants in period costumes camping in canvas tents and tepees across a broad field and among shady trees. Many of the campers create their own leather goods, jewelry and other Old West artifacts.
As I walked about, I listened to frontier music, visited a gunsmith, looked at the wares of different traders, and stepped inside a couple of the largest tepees. On several outdoor ranges I observed people throwing tomahawks, shooting arrows, even shooting authentic black powder muskets. I even enjoyed a good old hamburger and tater tots at The Hungry Dowg restaurant tent!
Other rendezvous activities, which happened to be idle during my visit today, include blacksmithing, candle making and woodworking. There is something intriguing everywhere one turns!
I photographed some of the informative signs, including one that concerns San Diego’s early history–particularly the 1820s to 1840s, when Fur Trade goods were sold to merchant ships that traveled around Cape Horn. Back then a wandering trapper would occasionally come into Old Town. Click those photos and they’ll enlarge for easy reading!
If you’ve never been to a mountain man rendezvous, make sure to put the Manzanita High Mountain Rendezvous on your calendar for next year. Kids absolutely love it.
This fantastic event is open to the general public and admission is free!
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