Trekking in Sycamore Canyon - October 2006
The Weather had been stormy but we had what looked like two days where we might not have rain so we decided to go along with our plans to make a primitive trek.
We met around noon to gather up all of our gear and pack the items we would be taking on our trek. We had a mixture of packs to carry our gear from wicker pack basket, to haversacks and knapsacks. We also carried food in period market wallets. The destination for our trek would be the head of Sycamore Canyon in northern Arizona near Flagstaff. Sycamore Canyon is a wilderness area and is a very beautiful destination. The area contains springs and the stream in the canyon flows most of the year. So, the scouts and the former Abinaki slaves set off.
We parked at one of the spots at the head of the canyon that allowed easy access to the trail that runs along the western edge of the canyon (which later crosses to the east side). In the picture you can get an idea of the gear we were carrying. My older son carried a pack basket as did one of the girls in the contingent. My younger boy carried a haversack with his bedroll tied to the back. We all carried a woolen blanket (younger son carried two because of his age) and all of our gear. Each carried a tomahawk. Mine was the only one with a hammer back. The boys carried flintlock rifles and I carried a British Officer's musket. Mine loaded with shot.
While we were hiking we were also looking for rabbits to augment our dinner. Here you can see my son Rhys off in the woods paralleling the main group. Unfortunately we did not see any rabbits. We saw some squirrels which we would have tried to take except they were not in season.
The day turned out to be fairly warm and we did not wear our outter gear. the picture to the right is of the girls; Jenni, Christine and Rissa
We trekked until about an hour before dusk and located a nice secluded and protected place to camp just off the trail close to the water. The boys began finding limbs to make a shelter while the girls constructed a fire ring. In the foreground left you can see some of our gear along with my musket. In the background is the stream.
With the fire finally started ( by a combination of flint and steel as well as one match) we began to start our dinner. Luckily we had brought a little bit of beef with us since we did not see any rabbits. The wood was a bit wet due to the fact that it had been raining for close to a week. This made it a little hard to get the fire going but once we did we did not have any problems with it.
The shelter was constructed from tree limbs and a tarp. We also had additional ground cloths to put under us. To help with warmth we piled pine needles under us. We secured the bottom of the tarp with hand cut pegs and rope. Unfortunately during the night a ground squirrel chewed through some of the ropes. The shelter did not collapse luckily.
Dinner was not eaten until after dark. We actually began cooking just as the sun was going down. Our only light was from the fire and a small pack candle lantern.
In the morning we used coals from the night before to build the fire up again. The night was pretty cold. My older son in the morning complained of not being able to feel his toes. When he finally got up he could walk just fine and it wasn't cold enough for frostbite. Breakfast consisted of hot tea, eggs, slab bacon and fried potatoes. We took our time getting going as we weren't on a tight schedule.
After packing all our goods and returning the campsite to its natural state, we loaded our gear and prepared to head out.
We followed the same trail out that we came in on. The trail is fairly well maintained and there are a couple of spots where the stream must be crossed. Large stones are placed so that a person does not have to wade through. Which is a good thing since leaches infest the water.
Although the day was a bit cloudy, the weather was still fine until we got home. Luckily no rain. Trekking is a wonderful activity and shows how little a person or small group needs to be able to survive in the woods. Our packs were lighter than what I would carry with modern gear. The heaviest items were the period firearms. I even carried my bayonet as an officer would while on scouting duty during the French and Indian War.
All in all we had a wonderful time and plan to do more in the spring and summer next year.