These two stories are examples of things that could be taken either way. We could enjoy every minute or we could be miserable and never want to go back again.


Very early in my life I learned that I could find a way to have fun and enjoy any activity or situation or I could choose to be miserable and dislike everything and criticize even the things I could do nothing about. By nature I was inclined to look at the fun side of things so I found life could be fun, interesting and enjoyable if that is what I wanted it to be. I found this to be especially confirmed while watching the different attitudes of the Scouts and explorers that I took on hikes into the mountains.

When our son Keith LaRae was about eleven years old I arranged a hunting trip for Claudius, Wesley and I and our oldest sons. Little Claudius was a year older but Mike and Kiko were about the same age. We packed all of our gear in the pickup and the three boys rode in the back. Instead of riding down in the truck bed and probably getting sick they rode the saddles that were tied on the Redilas of the truck imagining that they were on a swift horse galloping into the mountains. When we arrived and turned onto the little mesa above the Campo Santo Don Panchito Peņa was there waiting for us with riding animals and pack mules to take us and all of our gear down through the Gavilan River and up into the Blue mountains to the high Carrizo Cabin.

Don Panchito was a veteran packer and at one time had his own string of thirty mules that he used for packing provisions and machinery into the mines in the deep canyons of the Sierra Madre. He meticulously repacked all of our provisions balancing each pair of boxes so that they would not turn the pack on the mule while traveling. We had two open wooden pack boxes that he proceeded to pack with leaves and grass so they would not rattle and then he tied them in such a way with small ropes that they were encased in assort of a net of rope.

While this was going on Claudius took the three boys and Wesley down to see the ancient burial ground that was near by. When they came back we were ready to go and all mounted up and started along the trail that began by winding around the steep side hill. Suddenly there was a loud crack and one of the mules jumped ahead while it's pack exploded and the boxes went tumbling down the steep hill for about thirty yards. Don Panchito caught the mule and we all went down the hill to retrieve our pack boxes. And bedding and gear. When we got to the boxes the wood of the boxes was cracked and broken in many places but because of being tied the way they were. They had not spilled anything out. We carefully gathered everything up and repacked the mule. The wooden hook that was tied to the pack cinch had broken with a loud crack and had released the whole pack which had tumbled off when the mule jumped ahead. Don Panchito went to a big Manzanita bush near the trail and cut a shiny red forked limb and made a hook to replace the broken one.

When we came to the gate Claudius got off his little mule to open the gate and got on again and started down the steep trail. Suddenly the little mule ducked his head and jumped back. Claudius, saddle and all went sprawling over the mule's head onto the ground as the little mule went bucking by. The hackamore rope was tied to the saddle and the mule began to drag the saddle and Claudius down the hill but stopped from the pull on his nose. In the instant that I saw Claudius going over the mule's head I Saw Don Panchito whip out his 30-30 rifle and jump off his mule ready to shoot the little mule if he started to drag the saddle and Claudius down the rugged hill. Don Panchito explained that he was glad that he didn't have to shoot the mule but he would have shot the mule to save Claudius from being drug down the hill with his Saddle.

We saddled Claudius' mule and put on a makeshift Britchen to keep the saddle from going forward. We all mounted up after checking our cinches to be sure they were tight and secure. We went on down to the old Burgos Ranch House and stopped to pick up Don Panchito's bed and his good sharp ax. He put his Mochila on another little pack mule that he had left in the corral and slipped the ax under the pack rope on top of the pack with the handle going back over the pack so that it would not catch on the limbs or brush. We were ready now to start the long climb up to the Carrizo cabin.

It was decided that Claudius, Wesley and the boys would go up the canyon trail where they might encounter Deer or Turkey and that I would go with Don Panchito up the more direct route with the packs.

Our trail was a steady steep climb most of the way so we let the lead mule Old Hormiga set the pace. Hormiga was trained by Don Gildardo Burgos who had some very good pack mules. Most of them had gotten old and died. Hormiga was one of the two or three that were left from the days of Emilio's father. Don Panchito reminisced telling me many things about Don Gildardo and his wise ways with his cattle and Store business. He commented that there was a man who could be trusted and that was why his mules were trained so well. They trusted him and worked willingly for him.

Hormiga set a steady pace without hurrying. She steadily wound her way back and forth up the steep trail missing every tree and outcropping of rock along the trail by inches. She knew exactly the width of her pack and took good care of it. The rest of the pack mules followed along in their own order the back mules not wanting to pass the one in front for fear of getting kicked. They had learned their place.

We finally topped out onto the big Mesa de la Loba. We followed the trail up the mesa and soon started a slow descent onto the Carrizo Mesa. Don Panchito pointed out a big Solitario (a big solitary male Cholugo) as he disappeared in a hole under a big rock.

We were going along the trail with a little canyon on our left just before reaching the Carrizo Cabin. We both saw a flash of white flags that disappeared into the little canyon. I slipped my 3006 Rifle out of the scabbard and quickly stepped off my mule and went to the edge and sat down to watch for the Deer to appear. I caught glimpses of two deer going down into the canyon as they started up the other side I could see clearly that one was a nice buck I followed him up a ways until he came into the clear and fired. I saw him jump in the air and disappear some thick trees and brush. I sat there a little waiting to see if I could see him reappear. Kiko called from across the canyon as he came into view on the side hill, "Where is he"? I answered that he would be about straight ahead. He rode his mule on a little farther and saw the Deer where he had fallen behind a big Pine Tree that had fallen down. He called, "Here he is, come and get him"!

Don Panchito had followed the pack mules on to the Carrizo Cabin for they were anxious to get there and get relieved of their heavy loads. I rode down through the little canyon to where Kiko was waiting with the Deer. As I cleaned the Deer Kiko explained that he had heard the shot and had looked up and located me on the rim of the little canyon so he knew that I had shot a Deer. He said that the reason he found him so easily was that his mule had seen it and had pricked his ears toward it.

We tied the Deer on behind my saddle and climbed out of the little canyon. We turned on the trail toward the Cabin but were halted by the wail of "Daddeeee! Daddeeee!" Sounding from down near the edge of the Mesa to our right. We turned down that way calling, "Claudius up here". Soon Claudius came trotting up on his mule. He said that he had become separated from his Dad when they where hunting around the Carrizo Mesa and didn't know which way to go. We went back and organized our camp in the Cabin and built a cook fire in front and fixed a good supper which included Fresh cooked Liver Smothered in Onions. The Liver is the only part of the Venison that can be used while it is still hot. If you use the fresh hot meat it will give you a bad case of the Trots.

We all made our beds in one room of the cabin while Don Panchito made his in the other room. I for one was soon asleep and knew nothing until first light the next morning.

I awoke when it was still dark inside the cabin. I dressed silently and with my 3006 Rifle I went out into the early morning just as the light was beginning to show in the east. I walked to the west across the broad Mesa. As it became light I noticed the absence of the usual sounds of early morning. I realized all was very still even the leaves were unmoving. No sound of the Birds even the Whippoorwill was strangely silent. The air was heavy and I could even feel the ominous silence. I skirted the edge of the mesa but nothing moved. I seemed strangely out of place as I walked along the only thing to move in all the world it seemed. I turned back to the cabin and as I was nearing the corral Don Panchito had just arrived with the animals. We walked together to the cabin not saying anything as a few fluffy snowflakes came floating down. Don Panchito carried big armloads of cut wood into the cabin and began to build a fire in the center of each room

Every one was up and eating breakfast that Claudius had ready. I joined them commenting that it looked like snow as the flakes were thickening fast. Wesley commented that we would not be able to go out today.

I finished eating and took my rope and went to the corral for my mount. I thought it might be nice to hunt in the snow since it was not even cold. As I returned for my saddle the wind began to moan in the trees and the snow seemed to be flying horizontal instead of floating down. I started to saddle my mule but my hands got so cold that I could hardly take hold of the latigo to cinch it up. I thought to myself, "this is unbelievable I'm not going out in this". I pulled off my saddle and quickly put it inside and trotted to the corral and turned the mule in with the rest of the animals who were already standing head down with their tails to the wind and covered with snow. I rushed back to the cabin and looked in on Don Panchito and he was smiling sitting comfortably by the big fire sewing some Teguas he was making. I joined our bunch in our room of the cabin. Claudius commented, "I thought you were going hunting" and all laughed. I answered that I couldn't even get saddled up. The wind was now howling around the cabin outside and even coming through the cracks in the logs I got out my sleeping bag and climbed in it sitting close to the fire to warm my numb hands. The three boys were enjoying the storm standing around the nice fire turning first facing the fire then turning to warm their backsides.

All that long day the storm raged and it was cold, very cold. The little boys amused themselves by climbing over the middle partition in the cabin and visiting with Don Panchito for a while then coming back on our side to snack and eat pecans with us. We had a bucket of drinking water sitting near the fire. I felt thirsty from the nuts and got a cup and reached over and dipped into the bucket. Instead of encountering water the cup went clunk! Clunk! On the ice. Our water had frozen in the bucket. I had to put it very close to the fire in order to melt it enough to get a drink. The day wore on and the three boys Kiko Mike and Claudius were busy with their games and going back and forth from one room to the other they didn't seem to mind the howling wind and the cold outside. Don Panchito told them stories and showed them how to sew the Teguas he was making. We spent the day sitting in our sleeping bags turning first one side to the fire then the other.

Don Panchito kept both fires going with the wood he had carried in at the beginning of the storm. One time he sat with us and told us how he had built this cabin in a week with just his ax. He said that the shingles took the longest because he split them with his ax. We marveled at the amount of work that it took to build this snug cabin using only an ax and his expert ability. As I look back on that day in the cabin waiting out the wind and the storm I have a good feeling about it and hold it as a fond memory and a good learning experience.

Some time during the night the wind had stopped and I slept until the dawn. We all got up and anxiously went out to find a brilliant white world that sparkled in the bright sunlight. We walked over to the edge of the little canyon where we had gotten our water and saw that the stream was now ice. The boys saw where the water had frozen down the steep rock trough where the water had run swiftly down. I suggested they go get a saddle blanket and sit on it to slide down the ice. Soon they were sliding from the top to the bottom with much yelling and laughing. The slide was about 40 feet long with some curves and dips in it. They wore a trail climbing back to the top after sliding down to the bottom.

Our time was up and we needed to pack up and go back to the truck and drive on home that day to get home for Sunday. Again Don Pancito and I took the packs back the way we had come up and the others hunted on the way down. The snow grew less as we descended into the Gavilan and by the time we reached the truck it was nearly all gone. We weren't troubled with snow on the way home on that trip.

That enjoyable trip stands out in my memory as a unique experience never to be forgotten by those of us that were there to experience that fierce wind and blizzard.

One year the Stake young women's leaders told all of the wards of the Stake to have their Girl's Camp on a ward basis. Brother Chato Bluth and I had been taking the Explorers on horse back pack trips into the far trout streams of the Sierra Madre Mountains. Our daughters that were in the young women's program at the time asked us to take them on a pack trip for their Girl's Camp that year. We liked the idea of giving the girls equal opportunity with the boys. This had been the policy in our family right along. So we found out how many girls there would be and made plans for the trip. We sent a big truck up with saddles and packs and equipment plus the extra animals that we would need besides the one's available at the Burgos ranch ours and Emilio's that we could borrow. The truck left on Sat. and went by Pacheco to pick up Brother Bluth's animals and take them on to where we were going to leave the trucks and use the pack animals. I sent Beto Peņa up with the truck with his camp so that he could get the animals ready on the Burgos ranch. Beto was working for us on the Ranch out to the lake but he had worked many years on the Burgos ranch with his father Don Panchito, and knew the country and the animals very well.

Monday morning we packed all of the girls and their gear and all of the camp equipment and food into the trucks that we were going to use. Naoma and I packed all of our balanced pack boxes and bedding etc. into the Volkswagen Van and took part of the girls with us and led the way and we were off with a good early start. The fastest way at that time to where we would meet the animals was up through Hop valley, Garcia and on to hit the well traveled road that went from Mound Valley to El Colorado. From the Colorado we went west past Bull peak and went down the long ridge that we called La Lonja to where we found the big truck and Beto and the truck driver's camp.

We made camp there that night so that we could get an early start and get all of the girls mounted up and the mules all packed for the four hour trip over to our base camp on Black Canyon. It is always an interesting and rather difficult time to get everyone mounted and their stirrups fit to the right length. Some of the girls had not ridden much before and especially in the mountains and over the trails we were going to go over. Finally we got everyone ready and the last pack mule loaded and the pack snugged down with a Diamond hitch. When we were all strung out there were twenty five animals along the trail counting all of the riders and the six pack animals. Beto led the lead pack mule and Naoma and I came along behind driving the rest in line. Chato and his sister Flossie were in the lead with the long line of single file riders following close behind.

We crossed the San Carlos Ranch and into the pretty canyon. As Chato and Flossie came around the corner in the canyon a Lion jumped across the stream and went up and disappeared along a ridge. A little farther along our trail climbed out and went along a ridge going south into the Chuhuichupa River. As we were going along the ridge Chato pointed out the Lion going along the ridge that paralleled ours. Most of the girls got to see the Lion as he appeared and disappeared along the opposite ridge.

We crossed the Chuhuichupa River where it was wide and shallow with a good bottom that made it easy for the animals to cross. From there the trail wound around the Huerfano on a steep side hill where we could look down into the Black Canyon River that was cliffed up on both sides at this point. The Huerfano is a high round mountain standing alone above the surrounding country that is why it is called the Orphan. This part of the country is covered with Pine Forest as far as you can see. In the distance we could see the high ridge of the Puerto Del Apache that extended far to the South. We descended the south flank of the Huerfano and dropped into the Black Canyon river. We crossed the river and road around the old Air Strip to our chosen camp site.

We stopped the pack train and caught the pack mules and began to un load the packs. We had asked the girls to tie some of their personal things in their coats on behind their saddles so we could get everything on six pack mules. They were plenty loaded at that and they were glad to be relieved of the burdens. We cut a long pole and tied it up off the ground between two trees to place the pack outfits and some of the saddles on to keep them up off the ground and protect them from the wet ground.

The girls took their tents and scattered seeking a good place to set up their tents. Our son Kiko had come over from "La Estancia" Ranch where he and Charleen were helping Hilven with his cattle. He was a big help in unpacking and he and Beto took the animals up river to the Herradura for the night. Naoma and I set up the Kitchen fly and put our tent near the kitchen in the center of the camp. We stacked the pack boxes for the kitchen cupboard against a big tree and got a fire going to prepare supper. It takes a lot of food for a bunch of hungry young girls. They run the young men a very close second when it come to eating on the camp.

Kiko and Beto returned with a young Deer they had killed. They hung it high in a big tree to cool out for the night. Kiko said that he and Beto wanted to dig a pit in the morning to Barbeque the Deer in the pit so we would have some good meat for a couple of days.

After Supper and Prayer we sat around the fire visiting with Chato and Flossie while the girls drifted quickly off to find their beds after a long day of travel on Horseback.

The next morning Chato took over the fixing of the scrambled eggs while I cooked the Hot Cakes. I had made two big pots of herb tea and sweetened it with honey and laced it with powdered milk. There were a few Hot Cakes left over but not any herb tea or scrambled eggs. Kiko and Beto brought in the animals and enclosed them in a rope corral that we had improvised with ropes tied in a circle from tree to tree. The girls decided that they wanted to spend the day in camp and in the deep swimming hole about 100 yards form the camp. This swimming hole had a high bank on the opposite side of the river which was perfect for jumping and diving into the deep pool.

Kiko and Beto dug their pit and fired it up with plenty of good dry Oak Wood for about two hours then let it burn down to red hot coals. They had flavored the meat and wrapped it in Aluminum foil and tied it up in the skin of the Deer. They put in a big pot of Beans and the bundle of meat and quickly placed a tin cover over it and covered it with plenty of dirt to seal it up so that no smoke or heat could get out and no Oxygen could get in.

Later in the day the animals were taken back out to pasture again except the ones that Kiko and Beto were riding they kept them for night horses to be hobbled close to camp for use in the early morning.

That evening we persuaded Beto to make some big Sonoran Tortillas. He washed his hands and arms and rolled up his sleeves. He mixed a big batch of dough and began to pat out and stretch the Tortillas. Soon the tortilla was as big as the length of his arm and he was flapping it back and forth clear up to his armpits. Then he slapped it on a big Comal that he used in his camp. This Comal was the top of a 50 gallon drum cut out for the purpose. He had the round flat drum top placed on three rocks over the coals. The torillas were delicious and we enjoyed eating them as much as we enjoyed watching him make them.

The next morning after breakfast. Which include some very tasty Meat and Beans, Jenene and I and Chato and Flossie saddled up to go over to the Arco Canyon fishing. We had decided to go over and bring back enough Trout to feed the camp. Naoma needed to stay and help supervise the girls in their activities that day.

We road across the river and passed the little old Williams cabin and climbed up the trail toward the Puerto Del Apache. This trail was a white scar winding up the rock face of the mountain. When we came to the little cave with the dripping springs in it we stopped to get a drink of the very cold water that dripped from the roof of the little cave. These springs were called Los Ojos de La Virgen (The eyes of the Virgin) I guess they named those dripping springs likening the dripping water to the tears from the eyes of the Virgin. There was always a tin cup there filled with the delicious cold clear water of the drips.

We went on through the gate at the Puerto del Apache and descended down the long fault until we came to the trail that took us up onto the high ridge where the well worn trail dropped us into the Arco Canyon. Chato suggested that He and Flossie would fish up the main canyon. Jenene and I were set on fishing over in the Metate Canyon. The stream was swollen a little with yesterday's rain so the fishing would be great. As we were preparing to fish a Cowboy came and told us that his Boss Lupe Duran had told him to not let anyone fish there. We pleaded that we had come so far to catch a few fish could he not let us fish a few minutes. He asked us who had come with us and we told him that Chato Bluth was over in the main Canyon. Without a word he turned his horse and rode over to see Chato who he knew well.

We took that as permission to fish so we went at it to catch as many as we could while we could. I had never seen the fish so eager to bite. Jenene and I both were pulling them out as fast as we could keep a worm on our hooks. At one pool I said to Jenene, "Watch this". I held my baited hook about 5 inches above the water and the trout leaped in the air and caught the worm and of course I landed him and put him in the sack we were using for a fish bag. We started fishing at 12:00 noon. By one O'clock our sack was heavy and we were about out of worms. We went back to the entrance of the Metate Canyon and began to clean our catch. Chato and Flossie came over and commented that they knew we would be fishing so they kept the Cowboy talking as long as they could. So they had been unable to fish. Chato asked us how many we had caught and came and began to count the trout one by one. When we finished cleaning them and Chato had counted them we had caught 120 Trout in one hour.

That night we had a fish for supper and Yvonne, Rene and Vera were the winners at eating fish. They said they had lost track of how many they had eaten at 10 trout. We had trout left over for breakfast in the morning.

That last day in Camp we all saddled up and rode around to see the country and explore some big ancient ruins. These ruins were on a high level point directly above the Herradura. There were many Metates and Molcajetes scattered around the area of the ruin. As we looked down into the Herradura we could see how it must have been formed. Anciently the river wound around the long point in a big horse shoe bend. Apparently a big flood came and washed straight through a low place in the long point of land leaving the big horse shoe bend high and dry. Through the years the wind and water had filled the empty river bed with good soil. The ancient dwellers used it for farming purposes. They set apart one end for their burial ground and we could see the rows of stone mounds where they had buried their dead.

Later that evening we had a Testimony meeting and many of the girls said that their Testimony of the Book of Mormon had been strengthened by having visited the ruins and had seen the many Terraces along the way.

Early the next morning we had an early breakfast and went to work rolling up bedding and taking down the tents and getting every thing balanced and packed on the mules. Everyone was cheerful and having great fun and we were soon on the way back to where we had left the vehicles. We arrived in good time and changed from Animals to Vehicles and were soon on our way home back to Dublan. As nice as the trip had been it was good to get home to a good hot bath and our own beds.

The whole theme of that trip was, "have fun no matter what" and I think we really did all enjoy the whole trip.