My name is Mark James Hanratty. I was born in the land of 10,000 lakes in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and sixty. I have been known as "Gabe" since I was 15 or 16 years old. As near as I can recollect, my desire to become a Mountain Man started when I was 14 years old. I spent most of my weekends during school at "the cabin" or camping in the woods. I was a social outcast in High School because I was always running the woods.
As an adult, I got involved in a re-enactment group called La Compaigne de Hivernants de La Riviere Saint Pierre. (The Group of Winterers on the Saint Peter River.) We portrayed the Great Lakes fur trade. We represented the trading companies who stayed in the interior during the winter and traded with the Indians. In the summer we would rendezvous with the fleets of canoes from Montreal at the Grand Portage. We would exchange our furs for more trade goods and eventually return to the interior to seek out the tribes, establish a post and trade through the winter.
When I moved to Colorado in 1995, it was a dream come true. I had always wanted to live in the mountains and now I could be a real Mountain Man. Our financial situation was such that it took some time to gather the resources needed to participate in an event. During the summers of 2001 & 2002, I visited the annual rendezvous held near Fairplay. I was surprised at some of the stuff I saw there. It was very different from the voyageur re-enactments I used to do. I learned later this was called a non-juried event. We had policed ourselves so easily back in Minnesota that it seemed like it didn't even happen. Over the next few years, I became very active in the rendezvous circuit; I even served three years as a Director at Large for the Colorado State Muzzle Loader Association. Something was missing in these events. They talked a good game, but they sure don't practice what they preach.
Tom Karnuta has introduced me to The American Mountain Men and I feel I have found a fit.
I look forward to an exciting journey with the RMO and AMM.
I remain most Sincerely yours,