Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he
will not depart from it.
I have come to realize the great impact my early
childhood environment, training and experiences have had on my
attitude and inclinations through out my life. As I learned to love my
family and the Lord and his Church, that love was associated and mixed
with the love of the Lord's creations, the great outdoors and the
beauties and mystery of the mountains. I learned to love the land and
it's productivity. I saw how the seeds of the plants and trees are
produced in such abundance that they are scattered and wasted to
insure the sprouting of a few new plants.
For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I
prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be
agents unto themselves.
One of my earliest memories that started my love of the
mountains is of being in my little bed in the little truck bed that
had been made in the back of the old Star Car that my father had at
that time. I was a small boy looking up at the brilliant stars that
seemed so close as to want to reach up and touch them in the dark
night sky. I could hear the high pitched mooing of the mountain cattle
that were in the corral waiting for the Rodeo of the next day. I could
feel the excitement and the anticipation of the coming celebration of
the three day get together of the Colonies. The perimeter of the
valley was filled with people camped in the shelter of the giant pine
trees that started at the foot of the mountains that surrounded most
of the beautiful valley. Most of them had come in wagons and on
horseback. In fact I don't remember any other car or truck except our
old Star Car.
The next morning I remember wandering among the little
mounds of earth that dotted most of the valley. I realized that these
little mounds had given the valley it's romantic name, "Mound Valley".
I was told that those little mounds were what was left of the houses
of the ancient people that used to live in this beautiful valley with
the clear stream meandering through it. I tried to imagine the
hundreds of families that lived in the hundreds of houses that had
crumbled into little mounds of dirt. I could see that most of the
western part of the valley was clear of mounds and could imagine the
people working in their gardens there. I had at home my rows of
lettuce and radishes that I had planted and knew the joy of working in
my garden even as young as I was. Those are the memories that come
back into my mind as I remember that three day celebration and rodeo
in Mound Valley.
I remember the day of my baptism. We went across the
river and up the road to the hydroelectric plant that supplied the
electricity for the flour mill and our home. We went into the turbine
room that was filled with the big turbine and the switchboards and
wires to carry the electricity down to the mill. We walked over to the
side where there was a square hole in the Turbine Room floor. As we
went down the ladder into a cement room under the floor I could hear
the hum of the turbine and the rush of the water as it poured down
through a big pipe into the room. I could see by the light of the
electric globe hanging in one corner of the hole, the force of rushing
water as it came out of the big turbine into the room and ran quietly
out of the exit at the other end of the room. The water was warm
almost hot and it came up to my armpits and I could feel it swirling
around me. As my father baptized me I was aware only of the clear warm
bubbly water that would wash away my sins and give me a clean sheet on
which to write my future actions and deeds.
The next year I was finally old enough to be a Blazer
in the Trail-builders. I imagined being a Blazer was to find the trail
for others to follow and blaze the trail by making white notches in
the trees as we found the best route to follow.. Even the names of the
different age groups in the Trail-builders brought to mind the
pioneers coming to the Rocky Mountains, Blazers, Trekkers and
Our Trailbuilder hymn inspired in us a love for the out
of doors and a desire to camp and enjoy the mountains as well as
inspiring us to noble thoughts and deeds. I remember singing with all
my heart the words that even after seventy four years I still remember
most of them.
THE TRAILBUILDERS' HYMN
Oh! We are the Boy Trailbuilders; Out west where the sunsets
Where the brooks flow down life silver from the heights of the
We build our trails through the valley where the heart beats light
Out here in the west, from the pine clad crest to the shores of the
Our light is the light of virtue; Our strength is the strength of
Our trails are trails of honor for we build with the stones of
Our course is straight as an arrow with a faith that is firm and
Our guide is the rod of the word of God as revealed to the world
Our Trailbuilder lessons were full of faith promoting
pioneer stories. We were also taught the Gospel and prepared to
receive the Priesthood. The Scouting program in those days was
oriented to the outdoors and camping with its Merit Badges like
Camping, Signaling, Tracking and many things that today have been done
away with because they are no longer relevant to today's world.
The songs we used to sing have sadly become obsolete
and the hikes and days of camping for days in the mountains for
Trailbuilder age boys is a thing of that era of long ago.
When we were Trailbuilders we often went on hikes in
the summer that lasted five or six days. Only to return for Sunday.
Sister Mary Pratt was one of our teachers that I remember well in our
Primary days. She and her husband Ira Pratt took us as Trailbuilders
on a trip for a week.
In preparation for the hike my mother and I worked days
making me a sleeping bag. We corded the wool into nice fluffy bats
with the hand corders that mother always used to cord the wool for
her quilts. I got pretty good at cording wool and developed the
strength and skill to work the hand corders. We chose a warm outing
cloth for my sleeping bag. We put in extra bats of wool to make it
thick and warm. We tied it at six inch intervals with heavy thread to
keep the wool in place. We made an outside cover of heavy Material.
and I insisted that we make it waterproof by dissolving paraffin wax
in gasoline and soaking the material in the solution. We hung it out
to dry for many days but it still reeked of Gasoline. The wax however
was penetrated into the cloth so it was reasonably water proof against
Brother and Sister Pratt loaded us and all of our
camping gear and food on the wagon and hitched up his team of Work
Horses and we were off up river to the San Diego.hot springs for the
On the way out of town my cousin Eldon Robinson and I
decided that we would trot behind the wagon all the way to develop our
wind and stamina for long distance running. I remember that after
about ten miles we were glad to climb back on the wagon and ride the
rest of the way.
We camped under the shade of some big cottonwood trees
above the Bath House and about a hundred yards from the river. We got
a large bucket of clear hot spring water and set it to cool for
drinking water. For camp cooking we would use the hot spring water. I
remember that spring water had a delicious taste even though it never
did get really cold.
Brother Pratt stretched a big canvas from some trees to
the wagon wheels for shade and protection from the rain. The campfire
was built just on the edge of this area where the canvas was the
highest. By the time brother and Sister Pratt had prepared the evening
meal it was getting dark and we ate by the light of the fire. I
remember that while we were eating the moon came up full in the east
and brother Pratt commented, "Here comes the big cheese".
We made our beds in the soft dirt beneath the Cottonwood
trees and went to sleep in spite of the bright moonlight.
The next morning I was awakened by the crackling of the
fire and the sound of Brother Pratt cooking breakfast. I got up and
quickly washed my face in one of the little pools where the hot water
was bubbling up from deep within the earth.
I was fascinated watching Brother Pratt make some
golden brown biscuits in a big dutch oven and learned how he piled hot
coals on the lid and set the dutch oven on a bed of bright coals. Very
soon he removed the lid with a stick with a short branch extending out
of the big end that had been cut off to form a hook. He dumped the
biscuits out onto a clean dish towel and filled the dutch oven again
with the round biscuits that he had cut out with a ring he had taken
off a bottle.
After a good breakfast of biscuits and gravy with home
made postum to drink that was flavored with vanilla. All of us boys
went across the railroad track and up the steep hill. We started
rolling rocks down the hill and thought it was fun to watch those big
boulders bound down the hill knocking down bushes and loosening other
rocks. By the time they reached the bottom they would bound over the
railroad track and come to a stop in the grass on the other side. We
ran out of individual sized boulders and soon teamed up on the bigger
ones. One big boulder that we thought was balanced and easy to push
off resisted our efforts until we all got together and finally pushed
it off. It bounded down crashing into an outcropping of rock and
nearly coming to a stop. It recovered some momentum and ended up in
the middle of the railroad track. We suddenly realized that the train
would soon be coming along the track. We all hurried down to get that
big boulder off the track. We struggled and pushed but that big
boulder that was as high as we were would not even move. We looked
over and waved to Brother Pratt for help but he was sitting in the
shade laughing at our efforts to move that big boulder. We remembered
the crow bar that Brother Pratt always carried in his wagon and ran to
borrow it. Finally using a rock and the crow bar we managed to raise
the rock and block it with rocks until it finally rolled off the track
and down the little incline away from the track. We barely had time to
start back to camp when the old Noroeste De Mexico came puffing around
the bend. The engineer waved and gave us a whistle unaware of the
great danger that had recently been on the track.
We were all hot and sweating so we headed for the bath
house to bathe in the hot water of the spring. We put in the big
wooden plug at the bottom of the big tiled bath and hurriedly peeled
off our clothes. The water was so hot that we had to get in by degrees
getting used to it little by little. We soaked in the delicious hot
clear water until our hands and feet became white and crinkly. As we
came out into the bright sun we decided to go swim in the river to
After swimming in the welcome cold water of the river
we swam over to explore the big Bat Cave that was at the foot of the
big Moctezuma Mountain on the north bank of the river. . Oh the wonder
of that cave. The entrance was round and about ten feet high but
inside a little ways the floor began to slope up because of the build
up of the Bat guano. Soon the build up got so high that the ceiling
narrowed down until we were afraid to crawl any further. As I sat on
the great pile of guano, I wondered at the thousands of bats over the
hundreds of years that would be necessary to drop that much guano.
By the time I was old enough to graduate from the
Primary and become a Scout I had been to the mountains many times with
my father. I remember one trip Dad had a branch conference in Garcia
and we arrived just before noon on Friday. We went to stay with Uncle
I left the house and wandered down to the field where
Joe Farnsworth was plowing the field with a disc riding plow that was
pulled by three draft horses. I stood and watched as the plow evenly
turned the black moist soil over with the two big disks. He came to a
stop at the end of the row in front of me. He sat for a minute or two
watching the heaving sides of the three horses. He got off the plow
and unhitched his horses and casually said to me, "Let's go hunting".
I was surprised and pleased and followed him back to the house where
he removed the harnesses from the team and turned them loose into the
He took a rope and went out to drive in three saddle
horses. He saddled them up placing a pack saddle on one of them. He
brought out the pack boxes that he had already packed with food and
camp equipment. He packed the boxes and the bedding on the pack horse
and gave me a little brown horse to ride. He told his mother to tell
my father that we had gone hunting and that we would be back
We traveled up over the continental divide and down
through the Gavilán River and climbed the long steep trail that took
us up onto the high north end of the Blues. Just before sundown we
camped at the spring on the north end of the Blues. We unpacked and
unsaddled the horses and hobbled one of them. Joe handed me the 30-30
Short Saddle Rifle and told me to hunt along the mesa but not to go
too far so I could find my way back to camp. He went off toward the
rim of the mesa to see if he could find a deer.
I walked along the beautiful mesa that was covered with
big pine trees far enough apart to leave a clear view of the long
waving grass in between the pines. I walked along quietly watching
carefully. I had put a bullet in the chamber and put the rifle on
safety and carried it carefully along. I came to a fallen log and
looked back to see the horses near the camp. I carefully sat down on
the log to wait for Joe's return. As I sat there I was surprised to
see a spike buck stand up and stretch not more that 30 yards away. I
raised the rifle and pulled the hammer back. I took careful aim in the
growing dusk and fired. The little buck was blown over with a bullet
through his heart. I went over and stood there wondering how I was
going to clean him because I didn't have a knife. Soon Joe came and
quickly cleaned the Deer saving the liver for our supper. He put the
buck under one arm and carried him back to camp with me walking
proudly carrying the bloody liver.
That night after a supper of liver smothered in onions
we sat around the fire. Joe made me feel good by telling me that I had
made a good shot. I had plenty of practice shooting because Bob and I
often went hunting cotton tail out in the mesquites east of
The next morning just at daylight Joe took his rifle
and faded into the forest toward the rim overlooking the vast canyon
that he called the ruffs. I was just getting a fire going when I heard
the rifle shot as it boomed and echoed in the still morning air.
Joe soon came back and washed his hands at the spring.
He said that he had hung up a nice four point Buck so we could pick
him up with the pack horse later. Joe skinned out the Spike buck where
he was hanging and cut out the tenderloins for breakfast. We ate a
leisurely breakfast of tenderloin dipped in flour and salt and fried
in a big iron skillet. A couple of fried eggs rounded out the meal.
After cleaning up and packing our camp we saddled up our horses and
rode over and found the big buck where Joe had hung him in the shade
high in an oak tree. We returned to Camp and divided the meat of the
spike buck into the boxes and put the big buck across the top of the
boxes on the pack saddle. Joe had removed the feet and the head so
that it would be easier to pack.
That day we hunted along the top of the high Mesa of
the Blues seeing many does and fauns and a flock of turkey that ran to
the edge and went sailing down into the distant depths of the canyon
below. We dropped of the Mesa descending by another trail father south
than the one we had come up. We crossed the Gavilan River about
sundown and Joe told me to take the trail up over the divide leading
the pack horse. The horses were eager to get home and they climbed
eagerly up the trail. As we topped out on the divide I heard the long
mournful howl of a wolf that sounded very close in the still of the
night. I soon heard the sound of a horse coming up and Joe joined me.
I realized that Joe had let out that long Wolf howl as he reached the
top of the Divide.
I went turkey hunting with Dad and Uncle Steve
Farnsworth and Uncle Steve made me a turkey caller out of a wing bone
of a turkey hen. He cut it out of the wing and cut off the ends
leaving a little bell on each end. He pushed out the Marrow of the
hollow bone with a short piece of wire cleaning the inside well. He
showed me how to chirp on it to call a turkey and I began to practice.
I practiced until I could do what I thought was a good imitation of a
lonely turkey hen.
We went on a Scout hike during Easter week. I was
excited because that was right in the calling season for turkey. We
went up to the Tapiecitas Ranch into the high pine country. I took my
bone caller along so that we could hunt turkey and test my calling
Taylor Abegg, Wilford Farnsworth and I were camped
together. We set up our camp using all of the knowledge we had gained
in passing our camping merit badge. We even put our patrol banner on a
pole and stuck it in the ground where it could wave in the breeze. Our
banner was an eagle's head on a dark green background. We thought that
it really advertised our camp as the Eagle Patrol camp.
Just before sundown we three slipped out of camp to go
turkey hunting. We climbed up onto a high ridge and sat down to use my
wing bone caller. The wind was blowing tearing at our clothes and I
didn't have much hope of any Turkeys hearing my little chirping in
that wind. I did my best sending my call out into the wind. We would
all listen carefully for an answering Gobble but really couldn't have
heard a thing in that windy place. We would call and listen, call and
listen. All we could hear was the moaning of the wind in the high
branches of the big pine trees that stood along the high ridge.
We finally gave up and started back to camp. We had
just walked about ten steps when there before our surprised eyes was a
big turkey gobbler looking as surprised as we were. He quickly turned
and ran a few steps and sailed off down the canyon leaving three young
hunters watching in admiration.
On the way down the hill we made plans to come up
hunting before daylight in the morning.
The next morning all was still and the stars were
bright enough to light our way as we climbed over the ridge into a
little valley surrounded by hills with tall pine trees silhouetted
against the lighter sky of the coming dawn.
We all found a comfortable place to sit and call. It
was decided that Wilford was the one to shoot this morning. He was
positioned a little in front of me. As I got out my Wing Bone caller I
was trembling I don't know whether it was from excitement or from the
cold air of the early morning.
I began sending out my plaintive lonely call into the
still of the morning air. On the second call we heard a booming gobble
that seemed to come from the high trees on the ridge to our right.
Then another gobble far away to our left and another that sounded like
it was over the hill in front of us. Each of my calls was answered by
that booming gobble that seemed so very close. The answering stopped
and we heard him fly down into the little valley. We held our breath
to listen for and answering gobble but none came. I could hear the
chuck!!! whooosh!!!! sound as he strutted back an forth just out of
sight. Suddenly a booming gobble brought my eyes to focus on that big
gobbler with his tail spread, his feathers puffed out and his wings
dragging the ground in a beautiful strut. He seemed to be enormous and
I could see his beard nearly dragging the ground. I didn't hardly dare
to breath let alone attempt a call as the big beautiful bird strutted
first to the right then to the left. Finally as he came closer I heard
the deafening boom of the big 12 gage shotgun. I saw the turkey
flopping around on the ground then get up and start up the hill.
Wilford recovered from the kick of the big gun and jumped up and
dashed after the wounded turkey. As they started up the hill Wilford
eagerly made a flying tackle to catch the Turkey by the legs but the
Turkey gave a little hop just out of reach of his grasping hands. He
was up again and climbing with all of his speed and Wilford was a fast
runner. Again he made a dive for those elusive legs and again the
Turkey managed to hop just out of reach. Wilford frantically continued
the chase dodging the rocks and the thorns of the Johnny Jump-ups.
Again and again he dove to catch that wounded bird that seemed ready
to drop with one bloody wing dangling. Finally as they reached the top
of the hill Wilford in desperation managed to dive and catch hold of
one leg of the fleeing bird. Rolling on the ground he clung on
tenaciously while the big bird beat him with flapping wings. Wilford
was being beaten and scratched with strong wing feathers and the
bloody stub of the broken wing but he would not give up his firm grip
on that one leg. Finally he managed to roll over and pin the weakening
wings to the ground with his free arm and chest.
We had been climbing hurriedly behind watching in
fascination the heroic chase and capture. We now came up and helped
Wilford kill the wounded bird. Wilford was in terrible shape his shirt
was torn in many places and covered with bloody streaks. His face was
bleeding from many scratches and must have been painful but Wilford
was the smiling victor for he had killed his big turkey gobbler.
Because of the influence of the programs of the Church
and my many experiences of wonderful camping and hunting trips through
out my life I have grown to enjoy and love the mountains and the great
creations of our Heavenly Father. Times have changed and the programs
of the Church have changed with it's growth into a worldwide Church.
You of my posterity now live in this very different world. I hope you
can at least read of the freedom we once had to enjoy the mountains
and go into the virgin forests and clear mountain streams of the
Sierra Madre Mountains to catch the tasty Yaqui Trout and hunt the big
Chihuahua gobblers and taste the delicious meat of the White Tailed
Deer of the Sierra Madre.