The Rendezvous …

february 2018

by dal



Why is it That I Must Go?
Most searchers know about Forrest’s interest in the fur trade era and the mountain men who hoped to cash-in on one of the country’s very first “Get Rich Quick” schemes by spending a winter or two in the Rocky Mountains collecting beaver skins to sell for “big money” in the spring. But it was an extremely difficult, risky and treacherous way to get rich. Few were able to pull it off. Forrest has great respect for the mountain men and their way of life. Some feel he incorporated a thing or two about them into the poem.

Many who read this blog have investigated folks like John Colter, Joseph Meek, Hugh Glass, Kit Carson, William Sublette, Liver Eating Johnson, Joe Walker, Jedediah Smith and others looking for mountain man keys that could help them interpret the poem.

The mountain man’s task was to survive, often by himself, through the winter trapping in the mountains to collect as many beaver pelts as possible. In the spring these rugged explorers would bring their bounty of furs to a rendezvous where company men would pay cash for the pelts and the trappers could resupply with food, ammo and traps…before heading back into beaver country.

The rendezvous was the social occasion of the year for the trappers and also attracted local Indians, merchants and fur buyers who found themselves all celebrating together with ย whiskey, music and mountain tales.

Modern day rendezvous celebrations still occur throughout the west. Forrest attended many and brought along friends and relatives to share in his joy of this Americana historic pageant. I think what Forrest enjoyed most about the rendezvous was the trading. Buying and selling is purely business…but trading…the give and take…the charade, the gab, the offer, the rebuttal….this is pure art…social interaction at it’s clearest…and besides, you never know what your going to uncover at a rendezvous.

You can participate in the rendezvous too. There are many to choose from spring and summer…in fact they even occur this time of year…February…

They generally have interesting names for the rendezvous celebrations…my favorite name for one in February is the Frozen Butt Rendezvous held this weekend in Frankfort Kansas…not exactly the middle of the mountains but right next door, out on the frozen prairie.

The weekend after the Frozen Butt is the Rain Dee Voo, February 16-18 in Rochester, WA. Again…not the mountains…Rochester is on Puget Sound…They probably had beaver there at one time.

Closer to the mountains is the Horse Ridge Rendezvous near Bend OR. That event happens February 21-25 at Cowgirl Hideout Ranch.

Followed quickly by the Frozen Toes Rendezvous in Fort Lupton, CO on Feb 21-25. Now were getting closer to the home of the mountain man.

If you haven’t tried winter camping…I recommend you give it a shot at least once…the hardest part is convincing yourself that you’re not going to die when you wake up in the morning and have to climb out of your warm snuggly bedroll. But a hot cup-a-joe never tasted better than when it’s about 20degrees outside.

The best rendezvous of all is the one called Smoking Waters Mountain Man Rendezvous in West Yellowstone. This year it’s August 3-12.

The Two Rivers Rendezvous in Libby, MT is also a good time. This year it’s on July 20-22.

If you’d like to get in touch with your inner mountain man…or trade for hand made goods or get some help with HOB or meek or maybe catch up on some nearly lost arts like blacksmithing, knife making, knapping, dutch oven cooking, tanning, home butchering, wax candle making, ax throwing, musketering or whatever…a rendezvous is the place to be…

You can find a list of many of this years rendezvous celebrations, held all over the west at the Crazy Crow Trading Post site…HERE.


PS: A properly stretched beaver pelt is actually round or oval…who knew?

48 thoughts on “The Rendezvous …

  1. I am fond of the GREEN RIVER RENDEZVOUS
    usually held around the 2nd week in July, in
    Pinedale, Wy visit pinedaleonline. com
    the weekly on line local newspaper for
    dates and details.

  2. We will need something to do when the chase is over! These are great suggestions! Thanks Dal!

  3. Speaking of Renezous, I had an interesting thought on this- Once while on the subject of cam feeds I think FF mentioned that his favorite was the West Yellowstone Giant Screen, which just happens to show the train station where he could get a bath for 50 cents When he was a kid, if I remember right. Anyway another cam link with the Giant Screen is Rendezvous Ski Trail. The web cam is of the entrance at the south (down) end of Geyser St ( warm waters end or halt) in west Yellowstone.
    There are a lot of trails over a large are just southwest of town. Not sure how this are could be tied to the poem but a possible area to look around in. IMO – FYI.

  4. Cool Dal. We have a giant fur trading community here. Every Spring there is a huge event at The Dog Mushers Hall. There are pelts from all over the dang place. “Where the men are men and the women are too.” I like to walk through the rows and take a big whiff! Their lifestyle is admirable, but also laborious. I couldn’t do it. I like my paychecks and my Safeway.

  5. Very nice post, Dal. I have so much to say but nothing I can say here, except, where is the picture of the teepees at the top of your post? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Cynthia, will you be in Yellowstone are this summer? I’ve never been and it is on my bucket list. July would be my only open window given other travel plans, but perhaps that is a good time there?

      • Yellowstone is a beautiful place. My family and I usually go in July because we feel it’s less chance for rain, although we do get some, and Yellowstone River opens for fly fishing. In June, you’ll find the most colorful of blooms. We went in August last year and it was nice, too. Most blooms are spent except for the yellow and white field flowers and maybe some Indian Paintbrush.

      • Thanks. You should have said Forrest gave it to you. And it’s at the confluence of Duck Creek and Grayling Arm where Micheal Hendrickson dreamed we all were retrieving the treasure. Oh well, maybe next time. ๐Ÿ™‚

          • DG…better look again! You got real competition if Cynthia joined Dal! But, then again, they may search your old spots and end up empty handed!
            F said he had a feeling it would be found this summer. Cynthia struck out in NM, so F may be getting nervous now that searchers are headed north! Wooohooo! The race is on!

  6. Very interesting, Dal!
    You have a gift of inciting enthusiasm in your writing! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Do they have a Dutch Oven Pineapple Pie frying contest ? That would be fun! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Sounds a bit cold I think I’ll stay home by my fire…

  8. Very informative Dal. I would love attending something like this. As a boy growing up in Central Pennsylvania, some of my friends and I would always camp out in the mountains by our home on New Years eve. We would build a lean-to and have a rip roaring fire which would always be out by morning. LOL Winter time camping is not for the faint of heart but to a 14 year old it was pretty darn neat! Great memories!

  9. There is also a rendezvous in Prairie du Chien, WI June 14th -17th near the previous site of Fort Crawford.

  10. I was wondering about the teepees also. When I first saw it at the top of the page my heart started racing:”Oh my God, is that a clue?” Then I saw that Dale wrote the article, not FF. Nevertheless, it is a beautiful photo.

    • I hope that the finder of the TC will promptly announce that it’s been found (even if details about the location are not

    • I will be incognito. But hit me up for a deal on bells and bear spray. I will be selling ” I love Forrest Fenns treasure hunt” buttons. 2 for $5.

      • It’s good to keep a sense of humor, incognito or not.

        OH! I should say something about the hunt.

        Although there are “no shortcuts” to achieving a
        good solve, a person with a good solve should be
        able to park a vehicle about a mile (as the crow flies) from the TC. A practical hike path to it is likely to be around 6000 feet long, one-way. Following the “clues” path would indicate close to
        2 miles of hiking in each direction. As always, learning about safe hiking and putting that knowledge to use would be good.

        • Sorry . . . I meant to add “IMO” to the above
          message. It would sure be nice if we could
          edit our messages after posting, IMO.

  11. Dal – others have said as much, but I want to echo their remarks: you really are a very fine writer. Your little story at the beginning sucked me in and I read the whole thing; not something I ordinarily do. I think you’ve captured the spirit of the chase, and the chasers, in this one.

  12. Ha ha, I’m good no need in camping in the cold.
    Poor little animals getting skinned to death.

    Thanks anyway Dal.

  13. More kind words here. Dal….thanks for the ride. They have declared open season here in the Flint Hills, Wabuansee, Co. Kansas on Groundhogs. I wonder what plews of Whistle Pigs would fetch at the rendezvous in Kansas.

    It may seem far fetched, but rhe French trapped many of the tributaries of the Osage and the Missouri rivers in Kansas. Today there is beaver activity
    all up and down many of the creeks
    and streams in the Flint Hills.
    Snokomo Creek (named after a
    Pottowatomi Chief) has a large
    community of active beaver.

    We do know of French trappers in Kansas Territory very early on and prior to the Gold Rush, Homesteaders, and Free Grazers. One such was Orange Lamond. He married a Full-Blood Sauk/Fox named with the anglo name of Olive. It was customary to rename native peoples with anglo names to aid in an attempt to assimilate.

    This was the first in the history of the new world in Kansas Territory that an Orange married an Olive!

    Hope you all have a marvelous day!

    • Guy you are close to me…I’m south of Topeka in the wakarusa area. I grew up in Overbrook. Great history in your county…love wabaunsee county. My wife is from McFarland.

      • Sisson09
        Small world….Lets hook up and compare notes. I have been (3) BOTG….New Mexico.

        Maybe there are more Fennonites in these Flint Hills and we could network, find this treasure, and consequently get focused on morel mushrooms.

  14. i am having trouble understanding this concept called “camping out”. wherever i choose to arrange my sticks is my home. so, if i attend a rendezvous i suppose it will be at my house.
    see ya there!

  15. I remember seeing a place on the computor of just the poles standing up like teppes without the covers in a state I was looking at,looked real cool.seems like it would be fun to visit a run de view.cause all I’d do is look and run,no camping in the mountains unless I was in an rv,I’m just a scaredy cat.reading about the past is fun,but to find it in nature,like artifacts would just blow me away.just to know i was holding something someone made years

  16. Thanks Dal for the nice write up. I had to laugh at the names of the Rendevous and also had to wonder why no Dirty Weekend Rendezvous.
    PS: The nicely tanned beaver was a head scratcher but now I know.

  17. Thanks for posting this dal always wanted to go to one while I was out there maybe this year

  18. I went to last year’s Rendezvous in West Yellowstone. They have teepees there and a big dead Buffalo and moose you can get on and get a picture and I did. Also bought some moccasins and I think my husband bought a knife. We had a lot of fun! Didn’t camp out because we were flying out that day.

  19. Dal….it is nice to be entertained during the “hibernation ” period. Stories of native lifeways are always wellsprings on ole gray days. Keep them cards-n-letters coming!!!

  20. When Daniel Boone goes by at night,
    the phantom deer arise,
    and all wild lost America
    is burning in their eyes.
    John Vincent Millay

    Yes! let us celebrate just one of the many ways in which our primitive white ancestors annihilated practically all life on this continent. Wouldn’t want to think about THAT now would we. Let’s just pretend, like children, that our heritage was so noble. Just sayin.:)

  21. Nice story Dal. It was good to see so many OG searchers names appear on the comments page. I will go with confidence to a spot in Montana in late May or early June…but I may return for the West Yellowstone meet up on the 22nd of June.

  22. No hibernation in my world. Fact is , in my crazy world of art Brown, I’ve made huge strides over the quiet winter months.
    Here is one : Teachers with Ropes. Look at the drawing of the children’s legs crossing the street. Do you see the word , “MARY”. The “M” starts at the far right, the “R” is reversed and the “Y” is upside down, reflecting on a Spanish sentence involving a question,which has a interrobang, a upside down question mark” at the beginning and the end of the sentence , hence the Y being upside down . Now, can you figure out MARY ?…(No, not the movie), this : Mary , Mary , quite contrary .

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