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How many traps did mountain men typically use?

How many traps did mountain men typically use?


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The term "mountain men" refers to men(and a very few really tough women) who roamed the Rocky Mountains in the US and Canada in search of beaver.

Mountain men were active from approx. 1810 to 1870 with the apex of Rocky Mountain beaver trapping from the 1830's thru the 1840's.

How many beaver traps did the "typical" mountain man use?

Bonus Question: In a good year, how many beavers could our "typical" mountain main trap each year and what was the average price of each beaver pelt?


Not as many as you might think.

From The Adventures of Captain Bonneville, U.S.A., in the Rocky Mountains and the Far West… , Volume 2 By Washington Irving, Benjamin Louis Eulalie de Bonneville(pg 449)

The outfit of trapper is generally a rifle, a pound of powder and four pounds of lead with a bullet mould, seven traps, an axe, a hatchet, a knife and awl,a camp kettle, two blankets and where supplies are plenty seven pounds of flour. He has generally two or three horses to carry himself his baggage and peltries. Two trappers commonly go together for the purposes of assistance and support a larger party could not easily escape the eyes of the Indians.

The original story, written and published in 1837, was from Bonneville's notes and maps concerning his Expedition of 1832.

Concerning the second part of your question, From a web page concerning western history:Traders, Trappers, and Mountain Men

The fur trade actually reached its peak sometime between 1830 and 1832. At that time, pelts brought trappers an average of $4 to $6 per pound. A resourceful Mountain Man could trap 400 to 500 pounds per year. By 1840, the price had fallen to $1 or $2 per pound, and depletion of the beaver reduced the average trap to 150 pounds--hardly worth the time of an ambitious man who could otherwise earn $350 to $500 per year. By 1840, perhaps only 50 to 75 trappers remained in the West, a far cry from the 500 to 600 who worked in the region during the late 1820s.


Survival Tips From Mountain Men

All the pioneers who settled the American West were tough and resourceful, but the Mountain Men were probably the toughest of them all. Trappers and explorers, they more or less lived in the wilderness, only returning to civilization to sell the pelts they’d harvested or maybe sit out a particularly hard winter. Even then they rarely went back to the cities. Frontier forts and trading posts had all the luxuries they needed – a bed for the night, a saloon to buy a few glasses of whiskey, and somewhere to restock their supply of gunpowder and bullets.

The Mountain Men were legendary for their survival skills. Their contributions to American folklore include people like Hugh Glass, mauled by a grizzly bear and left for dead in 1823. Regaining consciousness to find that his companions had taken his gear and abandoned him, Glass – who had a broken leg, and festering wounds deep enough to reveal the bones in his back – crawled and rafted more than 200 miles back to Fort Kiowa. It took him six weeks, living on roots, berries and carcasses left behind by predators after resting for the winter to let his wounds heal, Glass was back in the wilderness when spring came.

Stories like this show an incredible level of willpower and determination to survive, but a tough personality on its own isn’t enough to keep someone alive in the wilderness. Some practical survival skills are needed, too. The Mountain Men came from a variety of backgrounds but the ones who lasted longest on the frontier had usually grown up in physically tough outdoor environments – Hugh Glass is believed to have been a sailor, and briefly a pirate, before taking to the mountains. Others were soldiers, farmers and explorers.

They were already familiar with the dangers of bad weather and the environment they went on to learn everything they could about the hazards of the mountains and how to overcome them. Many learned from the natives some lived with tribes for years and spoke their languages. Although they often fought the Indians too, they recognized the natives’ survival skills and eagerly picked up every piece of knowledge they could.

Technology has come a long way since the time of the Mountain Men, but the wilderness has a way of stripping away modern life and forcing us back to basic principles. Knowing how the old-time trappers, scouts and explorers survived in their harsh environment is still valuable today. Here are a few lessons we can learn from them.


The Life of a Fur Trapper

The Trapper’s Bride by Alfred Jacob Miller

There was no shortage of ways to go to the “go under” in the Far West during the heyday of the Mountain Men. In 1856 Antoine Robidoux could account for only three out of three hundred who went into the Rockies some thirty years earlier. James Ohio Pattie recalled only sixteen survivors out of one hundred sixty men in only one year on the Gila watershed in Arizona and New Mexico. If the trapper didn’t get his topknot lifted or worse by Indians there were many other ways to go to the “long sleep.”

Grizzly bears were numerous and had no fear of man. Trappers reported seeing as many 220 in a single day and as many as fifty or sixty in a bunch. Taking into account for a trapper’s propensity to exaggerate, half that number would be a daunting experience. Weighing a thousand pounds or more, agile as a cat and able to run at speeds of 35 mph made them a formidable foe. They had a nasty disposition to boot. A grizz could be as much a threat as a whole band of hostile warriors. Other ways of shortening the life expectancy of a trapper included fatal quarrels with fellow trappers, thirst, weather, accident, disease and hunger.

The quest for food was an obsession in a land where one would suppose that game would always be plentiful. A hungry trapper, not knowing where his next meal was coming, might sit down and eat four or five pounds of meat at a sitting or, if he would get a chance to enjoy another meal before something unforeseen would cause him to go under.

Trappers preferred a steady diet of meat but there was also the danger of dysentery, which could be deadly

Trappers reported having to subsist on ants and crickets in the deserts or making stew with the ears of their mules. Others mentioned soaking their rank-smelling moccasins until they were soft enough to eat. So, when he did find a place where game was plentiful a feast was held and he ate until his “meatbag,” or stomach, was filled.

When it was available he used bison dung for fuel declaring it imparted a peppery flavor to the meat. Otherwise, he used dried aspen, which made a good fire without much smoke. Pitch pine was good too and was the most flammable.

Visitors must have been aghast watching the ritual of feasting for the trapper’s put on quite a show. If the meal was to be bison, the hump ribs would be placed over the coals to broil and while waiting for the main course to cook, they would break open a thighbone and dig out the marrow, also known as “trapper’s butter.” Then they scooped blood out of the cavity and added that to a little water, enough to make a soupy substance. Adding to the brew the bone marrow and sprinkling on some salt and pepper, the “mountain cocktail” was ready to drink. This no doubt satisfied some physiological need but it usually turned the stomach of any outsider visiting the camp.

Another delicacy the trappers enjoyed was the tail of the beaver which contained plenty of nourishing fat.

The trapper’s clothes were made of leather as it proved more durable and lasted longer than wool or cotton fabrics. Leather could also be made water-proof by applying generous amounts of animal fat. While eating he rubbed his greasy hands on his clothes. The fringe along the seams provided a nice stylish tough but it also caused the water to run off rather than soak in during wet weather.

Some designed a coat of mail by hardening the tough bison hide much like the leather armor worn by Spanish soldiers in Arizona and New Mexico who were called Soldados de Cuera or “Leather Jacket Soldiers. This increased his chances of survival in battle.

After the season the trapper would “hole-up” for the winter. A hole was a spot protected from the brutal winter winds and game was plentiful.

Spending a long winter alone in the mountains is something few could tolerate. The only solution in the North Country was to take a pretty young Indian girl for a bride. They were sold by their fathers for a horse, gun, powder and ball, jug of whiskey or maybe $2,000 in beaver skins for a chief’s daughter.

A wife was not only a good companion on a cold night but she could cook, sew, and help with the work.

Artist George Catlin wrote of the usual rate of exchange: “Their women are beautiful and modest……and if either Indian or white man wishes to marry the most beautiful girl in the tribe she is valued only equal perhaps to two horses, a gun with powder and ball for a year, five or six pounds of beads, or a couple of gallons of whiskey.

The Native American usually found marriage to a white trapper prestigious for it raised her esteem within her tribe. The mountain men loved to lavish their wives with gifts of jewelry, bangles, “foofaraw” cloth, ribbon, and equally important, modern utensils such as metal cooking utensils like cooking pots. In exchange she made his clothing, cooked gathered firewood. They also took great pleasure in making their husbands clothing “out shine” those of his fellow trappers.

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14 Tom and Nancy have actually cable

While the off-the-grid lifestyle has modernized a bit over the years and allows for people to have various conveniences like electricity, GPS devices, motor vehicles, and running water, there are still some pretty obvious no-nos for people who are trying legitimately to live that way.

Among those faux pas would seemingly be cable television. Having cable definitely seems like it is a few steps too deep into being a modern technological luxury for a true off-gridder to be able to enjoy. So, when Mountain Men's Tom Oar admitted that he and wife Nancy watch the show every week-- a show that requires paid cable or streaming service subscription-- it definitely raised a few red flags as to just how off the grid they truly are.


The cast isn't as poor as the History Channel claims

Even before being approached to appear on Mountain Men, cast member Eustace Conway established a series of programs at his Turtle Island Preserve in Boone, North Carolina. There, Conway teaches visitors everything from hog killing to how to be your very own blacksmith. You know, the kinds of things superfans of wilderness reality TV shows can't wait to learn so they can feel as 'authentic' as the survivalists featured on TV. To get a better idea, check out the fan video above about Conway and his "education center and natural retreat."

The thing is, the programs Conway puts together for visitors are anything but cheap — the blacksmith workshop starts at $300 per person. Because of the popularity of Mountain Men, Conway is in an ever better position to use his fame to convince starry-eyed fans to try out a few of his workshops. If only one person took up the offer for everything available, he'd make hundreds of dollars. But as the grinning tourists in photographs demonstrate, he's likely made far more than that.

That's why it's interesting that the History Channel seems invested in portraying the exact opposite. His official Mountain Men bio even mentions Eustace Conway relying on a grassroots lumber operation to "secure his financial future." Nothing at all is said about the dozens of tourists handing over hundreds of dollars to be instructed on the fine art of animal hide tanning.

As for other cast members, thanks to agreeing to be filmed for the show, Reality TV Net Worth estimates that they're each worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, with cast member Kyle Bell's personal worth making him an actual millionaire. So much for roughing it.


What happened to Marty on Mountain Men?

The outdoorsman’s departure is especially difficult for fans because he’s the second original cast member to leave the show this year. Previously, Tom Oar revealed that he was retiring and moving from Montana to Florida.

Marty explained that he no longer wanted cameras to follow him in the bush because he needed to spend one-on-one time with 13-year-old daughter Noah, who would be helping him with the trapline that winter.

"I thought a lot about it and that’s the decision I made," he shared. "It’s gonna be the best for her and family time and all that."

Marty continued, "I’ve been doing this my whole life, and for the past eight years I’ve had a camera on me all the time. I’m glad we got to tell a story and I hope it’s helped people understand what it’s really like out here."

He added, "At the end of the day, I’m just a trapper. If you’re laying on your deathbed, you’re not going to be thinking about how much money you made or some job you had. You’re going to be thinking about what you’ve done with your life."


Contents

Mountain men were most common in the North American Rocky Mountains from about 1810 through to the 1880s (with a peak population in the early 1840s). Approximately 3,000 mountain men ranged the mountains between 1820 and 1840, the peak beaver-harvesting period. While there were many free trappers, most mountain men were employed by major fur companies. The life of a company man was almost militarized. The men had mess groups, hunted and trapped in brigades, and always reported to the head of the trapping party. This man was called a "boosway", a bastardization of the French term bourgeois. He was the leader of the brigade and the head trader.

Donald Mackenzie, representing the North West Company, held a rendezvous in the Boise River Valley in 1819. [2] The rendezvous system was later implemented by William Henry Ashley of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, whose company representatives would haul supplies to specific mountain locations in the spring, engage in trading with trappers, and bring pelts back to communities on the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, like St. Louis, in the fall. Ashley sold his business to the outfit of Smith, Jackson, and Sublette. He continued to earn revenue by selling that firm their supplies. This system of rendezvous with trappers continued when other firms, particularly the American Fur Company owned by John Jacob Astor, entered the field.

The annual rendezvous was often held at Horse Creek on the Green River, now called the Upper Green River Rendezvous Site, near present-day Pinedale, Wyoming. Another popular site in the same general area was Pierre's Hole. By the mid-1830s, it attracted 450–500 men annually, essentially all the American trappers and traders working in the Rockies, as well as numerous Native Americans. In the late 1830s, the Canadian-based Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) instituted several policies designed to undercut the American fur trade. The HBC's annual Snake River Expedition was transformed into a trading enterprise. Beginning in 1834, it visited the American rendezvous to buy furs at low prices. The HBC was able to offer manufactured trade goods at prices far below that with which American fur companies could compete. Combined with a decline in demand for and supply of beaver, by 1840 the HBC had effectively put all American fur traders out of business. The last rendezvous was held in 1840. During the same years, fashion in Europe shifted away from the formerly popular beaver hats at the same time, the animal had become over-hunted. After achieving an American monopoly by 1830, Astor got out of the fur business before its decline.

By 1841, the American Fur Company and the Rocky Mountain Fur Company were in ruins. By 1846, only some 50 American trappers still worked in the Snake River country, compared to 500–600 in 1826. Soon after the strategic victory by the HBC, the Snake River route was used by emigrants as the Oregon Trail, which brought a new form of competition. Former trappers earned money as guides or hunters for the emigrant parties. [3]

A second fur trading and supply center grew up in Taos in what is today New Mexico. This trade attracted numerous French Americans from Louisiana and some French Canadian trappers, in addition to Anglo-Americans. Some New Mexican residents also pursued the beaver trade, as Mexican citizens initially had some legal advantages. Trappers and traders in the Southwest covered territory that was generally inaccessible to the large fur companies. It included parts of New Mexico, Nevada, California and central and southern Utah. After the decline in beaver and the fur trade, with some emigrants to the West using the Mormon Trail, former trappers found work as guides and hunters for the traveling parties.

After the short-lived Pacific Fur Company was liquidated, British-Canadian companies controlled the fur trade in the Pacific Northwest, first under the North West Company (NWC) and then the HBC. Both companies undertook numerous measures to prevent American fur traders from competing with them west of the Rocky Mountains, especially in the upper Snake River country. After the HBC took over operations in the Pacific Northwest in 1821, American fur traders in the Snake River country quickly went out business and moved on. [4]

This halted American expansion into the region. After 1825, few American trappers worked west of the Rocky Mountains, and those who did generally found it unprofitable. According to historian Richard Mackie, this policy of the HBC forced American trappers to remain in the Rocky Mountains, which gave rise to the term "mountain men". [4]

Mountain men were instrumental in opening up the various emigrant trails (widened into wagon roads) allowing Americans in the east to settle the new territories of the far west by organized wagon trains traveling over roads explored and in many cases, physically improved by the mountain men and the big fur companies originally to serve the mule train based inland fur trade. By the time two new international treaties in early 1846 and early 1848 [1] officially settled new western coastal territories on the United States and spurred a large upsurge in migration, the days of mountain men making a good living by fur trapping had largely ended. The fur industry was failing because of over-trapping. Fortuitously, America's ongoing western migration by wagon trains with the goal of claiming cheap lands in the west was building rapidly from a trickle of settlers from 1841's opening of the Oregon Trail to a flood of emigrants headed west by 1847–49 and thereafter well into the later 1880s.

By the time the fur trade began to collapse in the 1840s, motivating them to change jobs, the trails they had explored and turned into reliable mule trails and improved gradually into wagon-capable freight roads combined to allow them to work as guides and scouts. As the fur trade declined, mountain man Robert Newell told Jim Bridger: "[W]e are done with this life in the mountains—done with wading in beaver dams, and freezing or starving alternately—done with Indian trading and Indian fighting. The fur trade is dead in the Rocky Mountains, and it is no place for us now if ever it was." [5] [6] At the same time the great push west along the newly opened Oregon Trail built up from a trickle of settlers in 1841 to a steady stream in 1844–46 and then became a flood as the highly organized Mormon migration exploited the road to the Great Salt Lake discovered by mountain man Jim Bridger in 1847–48. The migration would explode in 1849's "The Forty-Niners" in response to the discovery of gold in California in 1848.

The life of a mountain man was rugged many did not last more than several years in the wilderness. They faced many hazards, especially when exploring unmapped areas: biting insects and other wildlife, bad weather, diseases of all kinds, injuries and hostile tribes presented constant physical dangers. Grizzly bears were one of the mountain men's greatest enemies. [7] Winters could be brutal with heavy snowstorms and low temperatures.

In order to stay alive, the men needed keen senses and knowledge of herbal remedies and first aid, among other skills. In summer, they could catch fish, build shelter, and hunt for food and skins. The mountain men dressed in deer skins that had stiffened after being left outdoors for a time this suit of stiffened deer skin gave him some protection against the weapons of particular enemies. [8] There were no doctors in the regions where mountain men worked these men had to set their own broken bones, tend their wounds, and nurse themselves back to good health. [9]

Fur trappers Edit

A fur trapper was a mountain man who, in today's terms, would be called a free agent. He was independent and traded his pelts to whoever would pay him the best price. This contrasts with a "company man", typically indebted to one fur company for the cost of his gear, who traded only with them (and was often under the direct command of company representatives). Some company men who paid off their debt could become free traders using the gear they had earned. They might sell to the same company when the price was agreeable/convenient.

Historical reenactment Edit

Historical reenactment of the dress and lifestyle of a mountain man, sometimes known as buckskinning, allows people to recreate aspects of this historical period. Today's Rocky Mountain Rendezvous and other reenacted events are both history-oriented and social occasions. Some modern men choose a lifestyle similar to that of historical mountain men. They may live and roam in the mountains of the West or in the swamps of the southern United States.


Road to Rendezvous: The Rocky Mountain Fur Trade in 1834

On the first of June 1834, about 60 men and a caravan of horses and pack mules splashed across the Laramie River. They were headed for rendezvous in the mountains — the big summer fur-trading fair — and they were late. This mattered most to their leader, a Massachusetts merchant named Nathaniel Wyeth. He had outfitted this caravan with beaver traps, pots, pans, awls, axes, needles, knives, guns, cloth, beads, mirrors, and luxuries like coffee, sugar, whiskey, and ribbons.

These he planned to trade to Indians and to white trappers for their furs. He had thought he had a contract that guaranteed he would be the only seller of trade goods at the fair. But on the way west from Missouri, a second caravan had passed him. Wyeth knew that the caravan that got to rendezvous first would get the business. If he was late, he might be unable to pay all these men who were working for him, and might lose all his pofits too.

As they crossed the river and came up the far bank, they found to their surprise about a dozen men building a fort — cutting cottonwood logs, dragging them into position with horses, and digging holes to set the logs in to make a stockade. The other caravan had left these men behind with a smaller load of trade goods, to build a fort and start trading out of it with the Indians. In coming years, this post would come to be known as Fort Laramie. The route they were following would come to be known as the Oregon Trail. But none of this mattered to Wyeth. Now he had even more reason to worry. The trade goods left behind here meant the caravan ahead of him could travel that much faster. Now it would be even harder to catch.

As soon as Europeans came to the coasts of North America, they began trading for furs with the people who already lived here. Eventually they built trading posts where rivers joined lakes, or joined other rivers. Trade goods were shipped upriver from the coasts by canoe or keelboat. Furs were shipped back down the same way. Trappers, mostly Indians, brought furs to the posts and traded them for the goods the storekeepers had to offer. It was big business. River cities like New York, Montreal, and St. Louis grew rich on it. France and England fought a long war for it in the mid 1700s. Later, the big fur companies fought small wars with each other to control the trade.

By 1800, the business reached worldwide. Trade goods from factories in England, France, or Italy were shipped to North America by sea. Furs were shipped back the same way. In Europe, the furs sold for high prices. Soon, factories in New England were making trade goods, too. Merchants in Boston and New York sent ships all the way around Cape Horn at the tip of South America to the mouth of the Columbia River on North America’s west coast. The crews traded there for furs, and then sailed for China. In China they traded the furs for silks, then sailed home around the southern tip of Africa. When things went right, the profits were huge.

By now, most of the trade depended on a single animal, the beaver. Beaver fur is coarse on top, but a second layer underneath is soft and velvety. The fibers were pressed together to make felt, and the felt shaped into a tough, comfortable, waterproof hat. No man of style in Europe or the United States was without a beaver hat.

When President Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark out to explore the Louisiana Purchase, he wanted the Indians along the way to know they could now trade with Americans for furs. A few years later, a New York fur merchant, John Jacob Astor, sent a ship filled with trade goods to the mouth of the Columbia, and a second party overland to meet the ship. On the coast they built a post, called Astoria, and planned to establish many more in the interior. But the War of 1812 broke out. Astor lost the post to the British, who turned it over to the Hudson’s Bay Company of Canada.

After the war, Astor’s American Fur Company quickly came to dominate all the American fur trade south of Canada. Astor’s company and the Canadian companies continued to work the old way, with posts along rivers and lake shores to which Indians would bring the furs, and with everything shipped in and out by water. But he old system left a fur-trade vacuum in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Two Missourians, William Ashley and Andrew Henry, figured they could make money by hiring beaver trappers to live in the mountains year round.

Every spring they sent the men the supplies they needed, overland, on the backs of pack mules. Every summer, the trappers would gather and trade their furs for tools, supplies, and luxuries at rendezvous.

The rendezvous in general were pretty wild. Most were held in the valley of the Green River, in what’s now southwestern Wyoming, and lasted about two weeks. Besides the trading, there was a lot of socializing to do. Traders, trappers, and their Indian customers, friends, and families, ate, drank, gambled, staged horse and foot races, quarreled, fought, and made love. Confined to his tent with a fever, John Kirk Townsend, a scientist traveling with Wyeth, called it “bedlam”— something like craziness.

There is … a great variety of personages amongst us, most of them calling themselves white men, French-Canadians, half-breeds, &c., their color nearly as dark, and their manners wholly as wild, as the Indians with whom they constantly associate. These people, with their obstreperous mirth, their whooping and howling, and quarrelling, added to the mounted Indians, who are constantly dashing into and through our camp, yelling like fiends, the barking and baying of savage wolf-dogs, and the incessant cracking of rifles and carbines, render our camp a perfect bedlam. I . . . am compelled all day to listen to the hiccoughing jargon of drunken traders, the sacré and foutre [French swear words many more of the traders and trappers spoke French than English] of Frenchmen run wild, and the swearing and screaming of our own men, who are scarcely less savage than the rest, being heated by the detestable liquor which circulates freely among them.” [Townsend, 83-84.]

After rendezvous, the fur-loaded pack trains headed back to Missouri. The furs were so valuable that it must have felt like carrying a load of money to the bank.

Having a few hundred men in the mountains who did nothing but kill beaver assured Ashley and Henry a steady supply of furs to sell. At the same time the trappers, because they didn’t have to make the long trip in from the mountains, were willing to pay high prices for the supplies the company delivered. So Ashley and Henry made money on both ends of the deal.

For a while, Ashley and Henry and their partners had the Rocky Mountain rendezvous business to themselves. Soon, Astor’s company, the American Fur Company, much bigger and much richer, realized it was losing business to the new system. So Astor’s men in St. Louis also started sending trade-goods caravans to rendezvous. They were willing to offer the trappers higher prices for their furs, and sell them their supplies at lower rates. One or two smaller companies tried the trade, too and one or two others specialized in just the pack-train part of the business.

About that time, the trappers began finding that on stream after stream, the beaver were no longer repairing their dams, and beaver ponds were drying up. They were disappearing. Trappers had been killing them too fast. And in Europe, stylish men were starting to like silk hats.

Still, the trade continued to draw newcomers like Wyeth. In 1832, he had hired a ship, filled it with trade goods, and sent it around Cape Horn to the mouth of the Columbia. With a group of young men he’d recruited in Boston, Wyeth headed overland from St. Louis with one of the regular fur-trade caravans. The plan was to trap and trade for beaver on the way through the mountains, meet the ship on the west coast, load it with furs to send home, and use the rest of the trade goods to establish new posts on the coast and in the interior. Shipping furs by water, even all the way around South America, was so much cheaper than shipping overland that Wyeth was confident he could take customers away from the big companies by selling the furs at lower prices in the eastern markets.

At the 1832 rendezvous, the bigger companies made it hard for him. Most of his employees got discouraged and headed back east. Wyeth kept going west. When he arrived at the mouth of the Columbia, he found his ship had been lost at sea, and all its trade goods with it. He spent the winter there, and then stopped at the 1833 rendezvous on his way back east again. He signed an agreement to deliver $3,000 worth of trade goods at rendezvous the following year to the company owned by some of Ashley and Henry’s former partners—the Rocky Mountain Fur company, it was called.

Back in Boston, still confident, he raised more money. Again he hired a ship for the mouth of the Columbia. This time, it carried equipment for drying salmon as well as goods for the fur trade. He figured he could make enough in the dried fish business to pay for sending the ship around Cape Horn. The rest, from the fur trade, would be pure profit.

But when he got to St. Louis, he found another caravan also setting out, also loaded with goods for the Rocky Mountain Fur Company men. Wyeth never did catch up. The other caravan beat him to rendezvous by just two days. When Wyeth arrived, the men who had signed the agreement with him dissolved their company on the spot. They refused to pay him for the goods he’d brought. So he sold some to independent trappers, and continued west with the rest. On the Snake River in what’s now southeast Idaho, he used the trade goods to start Fort Hall. He left 12 men there to build and run the post, and continued on to the mouth of the Columbia.

There, even more bad news waited. The ship had been struck by lightning, and had been forced in to Valparaiso, on the coast of Chile, for three months of repairs. The ship missed the salmon season on the Columbia, and so yet another pillar of Wyeth’s business plan had crumbled. His company owned Fort Hall for two more years, and finally sold it to the Hudson’s Bay Company at a low, low price.

That was about it for Nathaniel Wyeth. Soon the end came to the Rocky Mountain beaver trade, too. Beaver were nearly wiped out and silk was the fashion, now. Hard to believe that such a rich, big business had been built on so unpredictable a thing as what people like to wear. There were no more rendezvous after 1840. The trappers found other ways to make a living — hunting buffalo for example — or guiding wagon trains.


Even though Jason is the star of a reality show, he hasn’t bought into the oversharing that typically comes with that. Even compared to some of his cast mates, Jason is a very private person, and hasn’t revealed much information about his personal life unless it’s relevant to the show.

Now that he’s a bonafide reality TV star, you’d think Jason would be doing his best to capitalize that in every way possible. But the fact that he isn’t is just proof that he really is the person he shows us on TV. Jason does have social media accounts, he doesn’t seem to be that into them. He posts very infrequently and only has a little over 1,000 followers on Instagram.


Packing Like the Mountain Men A pack trip in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest.

A pack trip in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest.

America’s national forests are treasures for riders, with wide-open spaces rich in wildlife and striking natural surroundings.

Covering more than 3.4 million acres, an area about the size of the state of Connecticut, the vast Bridger-Teton National Forest is best conquered on a pack trip. Horses are the preferred mode to reach the forest’s remote destinations, allowing people of all ages and athletic abilities to experience these wonders while following in the footsteps of trail-blazing Mountain Men.

Only 20 minutes from downtown Jackson Hole, Wyoming, our crew met early in the morning for a trip into the Bridger-Teton National Forest through Jackson Hole Horse Pack Fishing Trips. This company’s trips are popular because riders have the option to pack out for as little as one night and experience fly-fishing, hiking and riding from a comfortable base camp. This short venture is great for those of you who want to try “roughing it,” but yet you may not have a lot of time or you want to combine riding with other pursuits in Jackson Hole.

Dale Clark, whose gruff voice sounds like actor Sam Elliott’s, and his wife Carole were our guides. Dale pleasingly shares tales about the land and its history, and stories of his hunting expeditions. Dale is sort of a modern-day Mountain Man, our very own Jim Bridger to lead us through the forest.

After all, the Bridger-Teton is named for the famous Mountain Man, trapper and explorer. Bridger, an imposing man, shared stories of the natural wonders of the West that he gazed upon during his fur trapping ventures, stories which were taken back East to skeptical audiences.

When Jackson Hole was a bustling crossroad for the fur trade, explorers and trappers, including Bill Sublette, Kit Carson and Jedediah Smith, frequented this area of western Wyoming. Today, the city is surrounded on three sides by the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Our “Conservation President,” Teddy Roosevelt, established the forest in 1911.

Riding through this vast area is a true adventure. The Bridger-Teton boasts seven of the largest glaciers outside of Alaska, approximately 1,500 lakes and many endangered and threatened species, including the bald eagle. At the beginning of our trip, a bald eagle flew relatively close to us. I froze, not wanting to disrupt the eagle, and also in amazement at how large and majestic it looks in real life. Golden eagles also nest in the park.

The approximately 10-mile ride to the campsite at Willow Creek would usually take a couple of hours. Our group was a bit slower. We couldn’t help but stop every few minutes to look at something—the sunlight shining through a colony of Aspen trees, a deer tiptoeing above us in the soft grassy hills or the tree-covered mountains surrounding us. Dale would tell us that we should keep moving, because the next view was even better, but to us, non-natives of the area, everything seemed to be new and special.

We rode through one valley that looked up in the distance to a large canyon. The valley had the remnants of a cabin left over from the original homesteaders who may have picked this spot for, among other reasons, its stellar views.

We traversed meadows of wild flowers, caught by the colors of the deep red of the Indian Paint Brush, Wyoming’s state flower. We took our time to let our horses drink in the cool waters of a rocky stream, while we breathed in the sweet air. Each and every stop was well worth it, especially Dale’s favorite.

We came around the bend of a canyon and caught a first glimpse of his favorite spot, a large valley meadow. Backed by canyons, delicate orange flowers lined the streams that cut through the valley leading to tree-covered mountains jutting up to puffy clouds in the big blue sky in the distance.

The greater picture itself was awe-inspiring, but as I attempted not to let Jack, my laid back, yet well-conditioned dun colored horse—part Quarter Horse and part draft—eat the tall grass that lined the trail through the valley, I noticed much more. It wasn’t just that the valley was picturesque it was how small we seemed as we passed through it. I can only imagine the rugged Mountain Men of long ago, taking in these same scenes for the first time and how nature must have humbled even them.

By the time we reached our campsite, all of us were definitely ready to stretch our legs. Another family was already at the site, and had been for a few days, taking horseback rides out from camp, hiking, fishing and cooking hot dogs by the fire.

As I watched them fly-fish down at the waters of Willow Creek, I thought about how good that trout would taste fried over the fire, and how lucky I was to be on yet another Western adventure.

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