Meet me on Horse Ridge!

That is a modern, local version of an early 1800s farewell call, as the rugged mountain men dispersed into the wilds, to wrest a living by trapping beavers and other critters wearing prized pelts. There they'd also test their survival skills against sometimes-hostile weather, terrain, toothy animals, and natives who resented those light-skinned invaders.
   From the 1820s to 1840, the farewell was, "Meet me on the Green," which was not a reference to golf courses, but to the Green River, Oregon Territory (now Sublette County, Wyoming). Each spring the fur-laden mountain men, such as Jim Bridger and William Sublette, would leave the wilds and rendezvous along the Green.
   Mountain men, explorers and Indians all gathered to buy, sell, swap and swipe furs, guns, powder, shot, trinkets, blankets, and anything else of importance to their way of life. The sale of furs from the just-ended winter would purchase supplies for next winter.
   There were many shooting, running, tomahawk-throwing and wrestling matches, and much rather boisterous drinking. Many daring tales were told, of survival from encounters with grizzlies, Indians, blizzards and mountains. Some such stories were even true. Those annual rendezvous were not held merely to sell furs and buy supplies, but also to renew friendships with old friends and celebrate having survived another year. Colorful rendezvous names were adopted that usually had little, if any, connection to an individual's real name, but indicated some quirk, misadventure or personality characteristic.
   For a more local and 2005 version of those days, plan to take part in, or merely sight-see visit, the 33rd Annual Horse Ridge Rendezvous, February 24 - 27. Prineville's muzzleloader shooting group, the Grizzly Mountain Longrifles (GML), puts on this yearly event.
   There will be contests involving muzzleloading rifles, shotguns, archery, and tomahawk and knife throwing. Age groups include Pee Wee (11 and under), Juniors (12-16), Adults (17-64) and Old Timers (65 and up)
   The rendezvous leaders this year are Pepe, Dumbear and Bullfrog, aka Harold DePue, Steve Dunbar and Jim Malloy, respectively.
   According to Bullfrog, there should be at least 400 registered camps this year, and more than 800 people. Most of them will be in period dress - buckskins, furs and moccasins - so it is a colorful event.
   Many visitors will attend, just to watch the shooting, see the pre-1840 costumes, buy from vendors on Trader's Row, and soak up the atmosphere from this romantic era of American history. The best visitor days are Friday or Saturday.
   Contests are open to anyone, GML member or not, and application forms are available by phoning Pepe (447-4448).
   As the name implies, the rendezvous is at Horse Ridge, a couple of miles into Deschutes County from the southwest corner of Crook County.
   The George Millican Road is the quickest way to get there from Prineville. When you reach Highway 20, turn west and go less than a mile west of the town of Millican. Turn north off Highway 20, follow that road about two miles, then turn left onto road 47 and drive another mile. Signs will direct you. If you get lost, return to the Millican store and Jay and Patty Murray will direct you.
   Meet me on Horse Ridge!