Shining Times

“I defy the annals of chivalry to furnish the record of a life more wild and perilous than that of a Rocky Mountain trapper.”
–Francis Parkman

The life of a fur trapper is exhausting... and dangerous

The life of a fur trapper is exhausting… and dangerous

It’s rendezvous time and all around the West reenactment organizations or “buckskinners” are finishing preparations for a shining time around the campfire. Participating in rendezvous has been a source of inspiration, frustration and some of the best times, I’ve known.

Everyone should have their own lodge

Everyone should have their own lodge

There are those who find recreating history to be odd, silly and maybe even just plain dumb or a waste of time and money. However, at rendezvous, I have learned more about history, men and nature then could ever be taught in either a class or boardroom.

We're all on friendly terms here

We’re all on friendly terms here

The life of a mountain man or fur trapper was hard – there weren’t many that died of old age – because the very nature of their life brought them face to face with death on a regular basis. Of course for those that survived to tell the tales, these adventures became the stuff of legend.

Mountain men wear cool, handmade clothing

Mountain men wear cool, handmade clothing

The tradition of a rendezvous grew out of a need for the trappers to exchange pelts for supplies, and quickly grew into a month long revelry with trappers, travelers, women, children, Indians and company men joining in.

Yes, there are women at rendezvous

Yes, there are women at rendezvous

Mountain Man, James Beckworth, claimed there was “mirth, songs, dancing shouting, trading, running, jumping, singing, racing, target-shooting, yarns, frolic, with all sorts of extravagances that white men or Indians could invent.”

No electronics... but kids still have fun

No electronics… but kids still have fun

Today’s rendezvous are similar – we compete, we trade, we tell tall tales, we learn from each other and we have a good time. Conditions are primitive – no electronics, no RV’s, no refrigeration, no running water – and it’s easy to find yourself transported back in time, where things might have been simpler, but they certainly weren’t easier.

I'm a pretty good shot with my handcrafted black powder rifle

I’m a pretty good shot with my hand built black powder rifle

And yes, I handcrafted all my goods and clothing… from the brain tanned leather, to the beading and quillwork, along with my muzzleloader. What I didn’t make, I traded for, just as the original mountain men did.

So, are you ready for shining times around the campfire?

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “Shining Times

  1. Thank you liking a recent post on my site. I have to say that your own is very interesting! I look forward to making my way thru it.

    On a sidenote, I grew up with the show The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams in the 1970s and have always thought that the moral lessons in that show were important (especially in how to relate to nature)….not sure if there is anything comparable to that on television now. That series is now available on DVD and you may be interested in a post I did that provided some analysis of the show:
    http://westernsreboot.com/2012/11/06/grizzly-adams-returns-classic-series-now-on-dvd/

    All the best,
    Chad

    • Thanks. I remember Grizzly Adams very well. It was a family favorite and did have some great moral lessons. I’ll be sure to check out that post and others.

      Trapper Gale

Make my day... tell me what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s