I received a call a few weeks back that my uncle, the last one left on my mama’s side, had passed away.
We all hope we leave a legacy when we’re gone or at least make an impression to those left to carry on the torch that we lit along the way. Well I’m here to tell you his ways and methods live on in all those who love the great outdoors.
He was a man born a 100 years too late. A man who loved the Gila Wilderness, his mules and dogs. A man who taught me what a hitch was and how to tie a diamond and double diamond,. I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to learn how to pack and to guide hunters by a man who knew the Gila better than any map that was ever drawn. The trails we rode, the wood we burned, along with the smoke and dust will linger long in my soul. Thanks Uncle Duck for giving me the opportunity to see a way of life that few have seen but many dream about.
He was born a hundred years too late,
A man full of the Great Divide.
Weathered hard and calloused,
There’s not a trail he hadn’t tried.
From the Mogollon Rim to Lily Park,
Him and those ole mules made a lot of tracks.
From sawbucks to deckers,
There’s not a load he couldn’t pack.
He didn’t need a map to navigate,
Those trails were etched in his heart.
A packer, a guide, an outfitter,
He’d played most every part.
The trails now have lost a friend,
But his spirit will remain.
You’ll hear it in the bugling elk,
Or the old mules’ sad refrain.
He has tied his last hitch,
His trails now are smooth and clear.
There ain’t no slick rocky slopes,
Or switchbacks in the dark to fear.
Though your heart may be heavy,
And your load too much to bare,
Just remember this ole packer,
Men like him are gettin’ pretty rare.
So shout it loud from every rim,
And let it echo through the canyon -
We have lost us a good one,
A friend, an Uncle and damn good companion.