Growing up in the Rocky Mountains
Growing up in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in a time before video games, cell phones and iPads was a learning experience that kids nowadays will never know. We played outside until the sun went down and our mothers would shout out from the front steps for us to come home. Summer nights were filled with, hide and seek, and kick the can. Summer days were filled with riding your bikes, exploring the outer regions of your neighborhood and beyond with your best friends. Shooting BB guns, fishing, tubing, catching crawdads and guppies were everday events. More often than not we would pitch tents and camp out and watch the stars hoping to catch a shooting star. My friends and I would tell tales of ancient times of bravery and honor of those that walked our mountains before us. Our heroes were mountain men. Men like Hugh Glass, Jim Bridger, William Sublette, Jim Beckworth, and Jedediah Smith.
As a youngster there were two things that changed how I would forever look at the world. The first was I read Jack Londons "Call Of The Wild." The second was a movie starring Robert Redford "Jeremiah Johnson." Jack London and Robert Redford cemented my love for all things wild and good ole' mother nature. The poem below is my salute to the mountain men that dare go where no man had gone before.
Rocky Mountains spoke to him, saying his name,
Packed his Hawkins rifle, headed there to lay his claim.
Indians fought, pelts to trap, weather to tame,
Many years passed a Mountain Man he became.
Freezing rain, harsh winter, waist deep snow,
Cold temperature and frost bite took many a toe.
Scars on his scalp from a female panther swipe,
All alone, no give up in the man, he wasn't the type.
More years passed, winters seemed longer,
Wishing for the time, younger and stronger.
Never once thinking about heading down below,
No way in hell, leave his loved mountain plateau.
His 40th winter, he died, gave it his all, everything he was worth,
Living the life he chose, Rocky Mountain marrow of the earth.
By Kurt James Reifschneider