Perfesser's Newsletter September 2014
Greetings Friends and Fellow Reenactors.
As I write this the last week of summer closes in and daylight hours grow shorter. The nighttime temperatures drop and soon the quakies (Aspen) leaves will follow.
In the 1830's the trappers would have deserted rendezvous weeks ago and would now be energetically setting up winter camp and stocking up on firewood, jerky, and pemmican. A few hours would be set aside to scout out beaver streams for best locations to set traps and for availability of cutthroat trout. They'd be searching for game trails, watering holes, and natural salt licks.
Winter camp in the Rockies was a constant struggle to provide man and horse a dependable source of food. The beaver provided one source of fresh meat but variety was essential to stave off anemia which was a frequent visitor to the mountain man. Dried chokeberries and wild plums were treasures to be metered out and used to add to cooked meat and, unknown to them, provide vitamins needed to keep scurvy at bay. What little spare time wasn't really free time. It was needed to repair clothing, saddles, traps, guns, and, most important of all, boots or moccasins.
Then there would be the cold. The most productive beaver streams are between 7,000 and 10,000 feet above sea level. Above 7,000 feet, the winter nighttime temps will average below 0 degrees. Winter shelter was primitive and unsubstantial. Trappers were always vulnerable to storm force winds and extreme freezing temperatures.
I just wanted you to think about the glamorous, adventurous life of the trapper as you take an hour or so to drive to the supermarket then return to your comfortable warm house to spend the evening in front of a gas fireplace while viewing Robert Redford on television portraying a mountain man.
I'd love to chat some more but I have to get busy on preparing my winter camp. Until next time ... Your Friend,