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Old 07-05-2009, 09:32 PM   #1
homerj OP
742 Evergreen Terrace
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Rendezvous with the mountain men: Solo through the wilds of Idaho, Wyoming and Utah

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home..” -John Muir

“Ho- ly dog snot, there had to be a better way to earn a living!” I was standing thigh deep in the shockingly cold water of the Sweetwater River. After less than thirty seconds in the water every single one of the sixty plus joints in my lower extremities howled in protest. In all of my 32 years I'd never before been able to feel my metatarsals, but now they were making their presence, and displeasure, known. It was well over 80 degrees and yet I was starting to shiver. My legs took on a leaden feel and I struggled to retreat back to the bank. Once safely on dry land I stretched out in the sun to dry. It was while sitting there in the middle of South Pass next to the Sweetwater warming up, that it dawned on me that for the mountain men the money was just an excuse to satisfy the folks “back in the 'States.” Money was a way to explain to those poor, timid souls, in terms they would understand, why they chose this life of extraordinary danger and risk. It was really about being here, next to the river, basking in the sun, wild and free. They were true adventurers willing -eager even- to walk away from the surly bonds of civilization. They wanted to go out and see the land before it was defaced by the civilization they had so willingly turned their back on. Even now, with a smidgen of imagination it's possible to see the land as they saw it. This was what I'd been after way back in January while cooped up and unable to ride due to the snow and ice. Originally I'd planned to follow the path of John C. Fremont, “the Pathfinder of the West.” But while researching Fremont I had two realizations: A) John Fremont was an arrogant toad of a man and B) his guide Christopher “Kit” Carson was the one who captivated my interest. It was also apparent that Carson wasn't out exploring, but rather that he knew, at any given moment, where he was and where he was going. So I started reading about Carson, and then the mountain men, and it became clear to me that here were men who were the true adventurers. The men who risked life, limb, and their scalps just to see what was over yonder ridge.

Slowly the ride started to take shape. Starting in 1825 and stretching until 1840 the mountain men and friendly Indian tribes would gather each summer at a rendezvous to sell their furs and resupply for the upcoming fall and spring beaver trapping seasons -summer pelts were to thin to be valuable, and the beaver hid under a protective sheet of ice during the winter. Rendezvous was the pinnacle of the mountain man's business and social calendar. At it's height during the 1830's rendezvous about 1000 trappers and Indians would get together for three weeks of drinking, brawling, encounters with Indian women, skill contests, and telling tall tales around the fire. The few missionaries and folks from “the 'States” who attended were scandalized by the hedonism on display. Imagine for a second if the Hell's Angels decided to get together for a few weeks of fun in the sun and you'll have a vague concept of rendezvous. Time constraints wouldn't allow me to visit the sites in chronological order, but since the same sites were used multiple times, chronology wasn't necessarily required. Also, I somehow managed to completely miss the site of the 1834 rendezvous near Granger, Wyoming.

Day 1:
Saturday morning came earlier than I'd hoped. After rousting myself from bed I finished loading the bike and pulled out of the garage. While heading to the gas station I could hear a rhythmic grinding sound. Closer investigation revealed that the brake disc was scraping on the caliper. Not exactly an auspicious start. I headed home and pulled off the front wheel, it was 9:45. By 10:30 I was fit to be tied, it seemed as if the piston on the brake caliper was retreating too far into the caliper itself. I farted around with the caliper but nothing seemed to make a difference. I called my brother, but we were both stumped. I called a friend with extensive experience working on the 950. “I've seen that before. What you need to do is loosen the bolts on the lower triple clamp and the steering bolt on the top of the clamp. Then loosen the bolts on the axle clamp. Then you'll want to compress the front shocks as much as you possibly can.” If I weren't a complete fool I'd have been on the road in about twenty minutes. As it was, I loosened all of the bolts on both the top and bottom triple clamps -following instructions has never been a strong suit- and while compressing the suspension drove the front shocks about two inches above the top of the triple clamps. Take note kids, this is how you turn a twenty minute job into an hour job. By 11:45 I was ready to roll. I swung by the gas station to fill up and was off for Lander, Wyoming. I'd originally planned on a leisurely pace for the 361 miles of slab up to Lander. With the late start it was turned into a high speed burn with little leisure time. Speed was the essence, time was the enemy. GPS predicted my arrival at 9:00, I pulled in at about 7:30 after a long stop in Walden when I thought the stiction issue had returned. Bask in my speediness.

The day had been so long the thought of having to stop at the grocery store for dinner and then having to pitch camp ranked right up there with listening “Gomer Pyle Sings the Hits” for the rest of eternity. After searching around for a bit I opted to stay at the Downtown Motel in Lander. After unpacking, a shower, and a few minutes lazing about my room I set out in search of dinner. What the cute girl at the check-in desk neglected to tell me when handing over the keys was that the entire town -except the bar- shut down at 9:00. Utterly defeated, I went over to Uncle Ronald's Steak House (McDonald's) and wolfed down two burgers before heading to the bar for some barley pop. After having stayed a night in Lander I'm what you might call an expert on the subject and I can tell you with confidence that there's something strange going on in that town. Right there, where the high desert meets the Wind River mountains, a most interesting -and I daresay, appealing- eugenics experiment is taking place. Like the Spartans before them, the good folks of Lander inspect the newborn girl-children, and those who do not pass aesthetic muster are hurled from a great prominence into the river. Even the tattoo bedecked bartender still managed to possess a wholesome, girl next door, appeal that one must behold to appreciate. If you prefer the “Mary Ann” archetype over “Ginger”, get thee to Lander young man.

Day 2:

Sunday was the day where the trip really began. Immediately north of Lander is the site of the 1829 rendezvous. Later this would be the site of Ft. McGraw.

The marker implies that there were rendezvous at this site from 1812 through 1835, but the rendezvous system of plew sales and resupply for the mountain men didn't start until 1825. Only one “official” rendezvous was held here in 1829. Mountain men would still gather here from time to time, but these very informal gatherings were nothing in scope like the annual summer rendezvous.

A little further north on US 20 is the site of the 1830 and 1838 rendezvous sites. Located on the Wind River Indian Reservation near the town of Riverton, this and the Lander site are only two rendezvous held east of the Continental Divide.

Imagine this plain filled with the tepees and lodges of 1000 mountain men and Indians.

The Wind River can be seen amongst the trees.

It was now time to turn west over the Wind River Mountains and towards Pinedale and Daniel, Wyoming.

Once over the Wind River range I found myself in the South Pass. Rather that the more treacherous passes over the continental divide to the north and south, South Pass is a wide saddle easily passable via wagon. This would become an important feature with the opening of the Oregon Trail in the 1840's (although it had been used prior to that by the mountain men and missionaries headed west into the then British held Oregon Territory). Although well known to the Indians in the region, South Pass was not seen by whites until 1812 when the Pacific Fur Company trapper and expedition leader Robert Stuart crossed through on his way back to the east. The location of the pass was made known to John Jacob Astor -owner of Pacific Fur- as well as President Madison, but it slipped into obscurity until rediscovered by the legendary mountain man Jedediah Smith in 1824 while leading his men right into the teeth of a howling winter wind. After Smith's rediscovery South Pass became a vital link to the western side of the continental divide. The wagon trains packing goods to the rendezvous were able to cross the divide with virtually no improvements necessary. Other routes would have required extensive construction to be passable by wagon, or would have necessitated hundreds of pack animals. Also, due to its lower elevation South Pass was open much earlier in the spring and remained open well into fall.

Guided by the mountain men, especially Joe Meek and Moses “Black” Harris, the first wagon trains bound for Oregon in 1843 used this road to cross South Pass.

Initially the trail was pretty well defined, but pretty soon, it started to get harder to follow.

While riding the Oregon Trail I couldn't turn my mind from the thought that families crossed this... in wagons... making only a few miles per day. It becomes even more impressive when you consider that many of the women were expecting or had young children with them. How desperate must these people have been to pull up stakes in the east and head out to Oregon to start a new life?

The Wind River Range to the north of South Pass.

The Sweetwater. The name, by the way, is a lie. It tastes just like regular water.

After wading through the (surprisingly) deep pool in the immediate foreground you step into the river channel. Just past the grassy area the water is swift, and shockingly deep. There is a sandbar about three or four feet from the near bank where the water is only about nine inches deep. That sandbar, however, has a nearly vertical face when approaching from this direction. I had images of somehow navigating the stagnant pool only to run headlong into that vertical face and stopping dead in my tracks, tipping over, and at the least sucking water into the engine, or perhaps being trapped under the bike and drowning. An inglorious and pathetic death right there on the banks of that lying river. I searched up and down the banks for a few hundred yards, hoping to find a more suitable place to ford but found nothing. I may admire the grit and determination of the pioneers, but I prefer to maintain a certain distance from them. It's not that I'm chicken, or yellow, or a coward, necessarily; but you see, I'm not like other people, pain hurts me. So with discretion being the better part of valor -sage advice for the cowardly- I turned around and headed out the way I came in.

more of Day 2 to come...
09 570 Rallye Beast
"Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba…"-Hunter S. Thompson

homerj screwed with this post 09-22-2010 at 12:10 PM
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Old 07-05-2009, 09:44 PM   #2
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Nice Pics

Beautiful scenery. Looking forward to the rest of the RR.
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Old 07-06-2009, 07:38 AM   #3
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Jeebus, Homerj. Another fantastic ride report.

Subscribed, BTW.

"What these people need is some mental psychology."-Bonnie Abbzug

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Old 07-06-2009, 08:45 AM   #4
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Thanks for the history tour through pioneer times! I can almost through those wagons going through some of those trail.

ADV decals, patches & flag? Here
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Old 07-06-2009, 02:03 PM   #5
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Day 2 (continued):

“The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” -Jack London

After turning around at the Sweetwater I headed back out to highway 28 and then south to Farson. Then it was northwest on 191 to Pinedale, Wyoming.

While in the parking lot of the grocery store in Pinedale I met one of the more interesting characters of the entire trip, unfortunately I couldn’t get my camera out without drawing suspicion so I had to soak in all the details. He was about 65 or so and riding an olive green KLR. His luggage system consisted of a milk crate on the tail, a laundry basket on top of the milk crate, a duffle bag hanging off of the milk crate, another bundle between his area of the seat and the milk crate, a bag that looked like it was meant to hold a laptop where a tank bag should be, and a soft sided cooler resting on the front bumper blocking the headlight. He was wearing a flannel shirt, jeans, and work boots, and a half helmet usually worn by a cruiser rider. When he saw me we started chatting I could tell he was from New England, Maine it turned out. After a few seconds of conversation he started scratching his ass, and continued to scratch his ass for the next five minutes of our conversation.
“What kind of bike is that?”
“What’s the displacement?”
“What kind of milage?”
“I myself won’t ride anything that gets less than 50 miles per gallon.”
“I should get me one of those suits”
“You spent money on an iPod?”
“How much did those boots cost you?...Ha! They saw you coming!”
And so on. He eventually drifted into comparing the relative merits of his earlier KLR 250 and his later KLR 650 and my 950 to bowel movements of woodland creatures. “Naow, that KL-Arh two fifdy, dat souwnded like a squirral fahting. Dah 650, it souwds like a raccoon takin a crap. I bet dat 950 sounds like a friggin beahr dropin a monster load.” I swear, I’m not making this up. It quickly became apparent, however, that not only was this man insane, but also hopelessly lonely and starving for human contact. He offered me a place in the bunk house on the ranch where he stayed because “the owner wasn’t there and would never know.” I declined for two reasons: A) I didn’t like the idea of trying to pull one over on the land owner. B) the thought of spending an entire evening with this gentleman made me cringe. I tried to escape his clutches several times by this point, but now it was seriously time to go. I was raised to be polite, and to excuse yourself before leaving, but repeating “I really need to get rolling”, wasn’t doing the trick. Eventually I just put in the headphones and drove off with him chattering away in mid-sentence.

Before stopping for the night I had to make one more stop:

I have a few problems with this sign. First, the Oregon Trail didn’t open until 1843, although all of the individual segments were known by the mountain men in 1836. Second, the arrival of missionaries in the West signals a permanent change in relations with the Indians. The missionaries were there to convert the “heathen” Indians whether they wanted it or not. Also, the arrival of missionaries was the harbinger of the arrival of the settlers. The settlers arrival meant an end to mostly symbiotic relationship between the Indians and the Mountain Men, and the beginning of an adversarial relationship, the settlers came and stayed on Indian land rather than just passing through.

After heading south from Pinedale and Daniel I ended up in camp just as the sun was setting.

The view from the front door.

This is it for Day 2. Day 3 will be coming up. Stay tuned for mud, zombie sheep, and learn how I was exposed to an intestinal parasite...
09 570 Rallye Beast
"Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba…"-Hunter S. Thompson

homerj screwed with this post 12-23-2009 at 02:06 PM
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Old 07-06-2009, 02:28 PM   #6
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I appreciate your sense of history, we to soon forget from where we came from. Im in for the ride!
Where am I going you ask.... I dunno really
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Old 07-06-2009, 03:12 PM   #7
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The Mountain man era ia an important and exciting part of our history. Seldom does one see it documented with current photos.

Well done.
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Old 07-07-2009, 03:21 PM   #8
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Day 3:

“It's only misery.
It's only ankle deep” - 16 Horsepower

Day three and it's time to head into Idaho. Although this was the week before the 4th of July, I'd successfully managed to avoid anything even resembling a crowd. I couldn't have been more pleased, but on day three I nearly threw in the towel and pressed the “Help” button on my Spot PLB. This would end being the most challenging day of the trip.

It didn't look like the dawn of a hard day...

After crossing the Wyoming Range I pulled into Alpine, Wyoming, right on the state line. After lunch it was time to head up to Pierre's Hole, site of the 1832 Rendezvous. Named for Hudson Bay Company trapper and troop leader Pierre Tavington, Pierre's Hole was considered one of the most beautiful locations in all of the Rockies. The site was only used once, however, due to territorial disputes between the American and British trappers. Technically Idaho was part of the joint British/American Oregon Territory, but more importantly the Hudson Bay Company viewed the efforts of Rocky Mountain Fur and Astor's American Fur to encroach on “their “streams with hostility.

Pierre’s Hole was also the site of the Battle of Pierre’s Hole. As the rendezvous was breaking up Henry Fraeb and Milton Sublette along with their Nez Perce and Flathead allies came across a band of about 250 Gros Venture Indians. The mountain men had always held the Gros Venture in suspicion. Although separate from the Blackfoot, the Gros Venture were seemingly the only people in the mountains able to get along peacefully with them. As friends to the most quarrelsome people in the mountains, the Gros Venture were held in suspicion by all neighboring tribes, especially the Crow, and the mountain men as well. There are differing accounts of how the firing broke out, but break out it did. The outnumbered mountain men sent for reinforcements from those still gathered at rendezvous and drove the Gros Ventures into a willow thicket in the southwest corner of Pierre’s Hole. The gunfight raged all day, with neither side gaining the advantage. As night approached the Gros Venture taunted the mountain men that the Blackfeet were coming to aid them, and they’d wipe out the mountain men. Somehow the mountain men understood this to mean that those left in rendezvous were currently under attack by the Blackfeet. The mountain men turned back to the rendezvous site (between modern day Driggs and Tetonia) but found no Blackfoot attack underway. Upon returning to the willow thicket the next morning the mountain men found that the Gros Venture had fled the scene.

Who where these guys? What brought them out to the mountains? For the most part they were young men from the Missouri or the Midwest. In 1822, Gen. William Ashley began to put a team of fur trappers together. He first placed an ad in the St. Louis papers seeking “100 enterprising young men to ascend the river Missouri to its source to be employed for one, two, or three years”. When asked by one of his recruiters where they should look for likely candidates he’s said to reply, “grog shops -- brothels -- graves if the body's still warm." Despite his recruiting tactics Ashley’s original troop roll would contain the names of men who would become mountain legend: Jedediah Smith, Jim Bridger, William Sublette, Tom Fitzpatrick, Jim Clyman, Hugh Glass, Jim Beckwourth, and Moses “Black” Harris. I’ll share some stories about these men as we go along. Let’s get back to the trip…

Pierre’s Hole:

After Pierre’s Hole it was time to head south along the Grays’ River and into Wayan.
After turning off the highway by Swan Valley I immediately started climbing. Along the way I ran into these guys.

Now a quick word about our woolly friends. Sheep are, without a doubt in my mind, the stupidest animals to wander around on two or four legs. It’s no wonder they need a guard dog and a judas goat just to make it through the day. In my experience prey animals tend to run away from frightening noises. But sheep, sheep will first run parallel to your path, and then decide to run towards the motorcycle. How dumb does an animal have to be to run toward something that frightens them?. This happened four or five times in this herd alone.

And there he is…

The weather looked threatening, but never actually rained.

Shepherd’s hut

Coming attractions...

Less than a mile down the road I came to The Pit of Despair:

I’d made it most of the way around this slough…

and only needed to go a little further, but when trying to make a turn my front wheel had been sucked down into the wheel rut. The bike was too heavy to pull out, so I tried to push forward. Biiiiiig mistake.

The mud was so deep and thick it held the bike up without the kickstand. Now, some people would try to just drive the bike out of this situation, but I know from personal experience that is a great way to frag a clutch.

The first thing I did was take off the panniers, in hindsight that may have been a mistake, but I’ll explain why later.

I tipped the bike on its side to break the immense suction around the wheels. I then rotated the bike around the foot peg in an attempt to pull the bike straight back and out of the rut onto the firmer ground I’m standing on.

With the bike upright and perpendicular to the rut it was time for the heavy pulling.
It quickly became apparent that this wasn’t going to work so I tried to do some construction…

Using my potty trowel I tried to smooth out a ledge and create a more gentle ramp.

And then it fell over… It was while trying to get the bike back upright that I seriously considered using the “Help” button on my Spot PLB. I hadn’t seen anyone all day, and didn’t expect to see anyone for the remainder of the day. This was probably the lowest point in the trip.

after wrestling with it for 15 minutes...

It was apparent that I wasn’t going to be able to pull the bike out. I was going to have to find another way.

I came up with this. When I’d tried to just pull the bike on its side the crashbar was digging in and preventing me from making progress. So I improvised a skid system. The bars would rest on the sticks and hopefully slide over the surface much easier.

After several rounds of tip, skid, stand-up, move sticks, repeat I was A) moving forward, and B) getting up onto the drier, firmer ground.

One. Last. Lift!

"Strrrrong like bullll!"

Finally up on firm ground:

And out! It took an hour and forty-five minutes to go ten feet.

Here’s where it all went wrong:

note the skid mark going into the rut. I should have been going to the right.

Standing at the site of entry, looking at the remaining 10ish feet.

Next time I think I’ll leave the pannier on the bike. While trying to drag the bike along the sticks/skids it was obvious that the footpegs were dragging in the mud and making my life more difficult. With the pannier on I would have A) been able to move the pivot point for the bike further back and B) have provided an even, low friction surface to drag along the ground. and C) kept the footpeg from touching the ground and greatly reducing the amount of force needed to drag the bike along the skids. I’m not really sure why I didn’t think of that while sweating like a pig over the bike, but I’ll keep it in mind for next time.

After a quick rest break it was time to get rolling again. Further down the trail it looked like someone else had run into similar problems.

The next several miles were pretty much like this. The heavy rains this season have also contributed to some severe erosion issues on the downhills.

Eventually the roads opened up:

I found some nice Nikon binoculars when I stopped for this pic, the trail gods were making it up to me.

Once down out of the mountains I rode around Gray’s Lake National Refuge before pulling into Wayan. I was counting on Wayan having gas, but that was not to be. I ended up heading back east across the state line and stopped in Thayne, Wy.

Dark was approaching as I pulled into Thayne so I hunted around and found a RV campground. For 7 bucks I got a place to pitch my tent, a shower, laundry room access, and the owner let me borrow her grill. After reserving my space I ran back into town and picked up a steak, and tried to hunt down some barley pop. I was told at the grocery store I’d have to go to the bar. Figuring that couldn’t possibly be right I went to the gas station, where again, I was directed to the bar. I pulled up to the bar and walked inside. I could swear I heard the jukebox scratch when I walked through the door. My boots squeak when I walk, so it’s not like I can sneak in anywhere I go. The bar was dark, like a good bar should be, and there were 5 or 6 people hanging out, all staring at me. Squeak squeak, squeak… “I asked for a liquor store and they sent me here.” The bartender looked like Miss Nicotine Queen, 1965. Her skin was leathery and wrinkled, especially around her mouth from puckering her cigarettes. She took a drag and exhaled off to the side, “Yep, whatcha want?”
“Two cans of Bud please.” As if by magic she conjured the cans of beer onto the bar.
“That’ll be four dollars honey.” Now, I’m what you might call a beer snob but I can tell you that nothing, nothing, could have tasted better that night in Thayne than those two cans Budweiser. I collapsed into bed immediately after finishing my steak.
09 570 Rallye Beast
"Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba…"-Hunter S. Thompson

homerj screwed with this post 08-01-2010 at 02:44 PM
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Old 07-07-2009, 07:28 PM   #9
bring on the world!!!!
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nice report.. just started reading it.. i got a ways to catch up

just ride it out!
go fast and hang on tight!
spot linky:
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Old 07-07-2009, 07:46 PM   #10
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Damn, Homerj, what a start.

""Strrrrong like bullll!""...ruptured like foolish motorcyclist.

What beautiful places to ride...I'm in for the rest of this one.
~What wisdom can be found
that is greater than kindness~
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Old 07-07-2009, 08:16 PM   #11
not sleeping
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he said beaver, heh heh


you didn't get mud on my seat did you
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Old 07-07-2009, 11:06 PM   #12
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Nice Jack.

Maybe I should've been following your SPOT just a little more closely.

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Old 07-07-2009, 11:23 PM   #13
homerj OP
742 Evergreen Terrace
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Originally Posted by ganshert
he said beaver, heh heh


you didn't get mud on my seat did you
Consider your seat...well broken in
09 570 Rallye Beast
"Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba…"-Hunter S. Thompson
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Old 07-07-2009, 11:24 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by homerj
Consider your seat...well broken in

looks like an amazing ride
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Old 07-08-2009, 11:23 AM   #15
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Intermission (Warning: Educational content):

Most of the mountain men came from the mid-west and mid-Atlantic region. Most of them were not exactly what you’d call… the luminaries of St. Louis society. Most of “Ashley’s 100” were frontiers men who’d moved west when their home had become too tame. They’d headed west to St. Louis to find the fortune they knew was out there looking for them.

One of the first American mountain men, however, started out as a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition. In 1806, while returning down the Missouri with the Corps of Discovery John Colter made the acquaintance of Forest Hancock and Joseph Dickson who were headed west into the mountains to trade or trap beaver. Colter arranged to be honorably discharged from the Corps of Discovery so he could guide the men back into the mountains he’d just traversed with Lewis and Clark. The Hancock/Dickson partnership dissolved while in the mountains and Colter turned and headed for St. Louis. On his way east he ran into Manual Lisa, a Spanish trader working the Missouri River. He agreed to lead Lisa’s party up river. It was while working out of Lisa’s Ft. Raymond at the confluence of the Big Horn and Missouri Rivers that Colter made perhaps his most lasting discovery. While tramping through the mountains in search of beaver he walked into a valley where the smell of brimstone burnt the nostrils, the ground itself would explode into geysers, and the Earth literally boiled. He thought he’d found the back door into hell. He expected at any moment to be snatched up by the devil and dragged down into the earth itself. John Colter was the first white man to ever lay eyes on the Yellowstone valley. For years his discovery was thought to be just a yarn; a tall tale told around the fire for amusement. It took several years for the existence of “Colter’s Hell” to be confirmed. Colter is also famous for his “run”. After being captured by the Blackfeet he was given a chance to literally run for his life. If he could escape, he would live, if he did not…well. Naked and unarmed Colter was able to lose his pursuers and hide. He then walked for seven days barefoot, naked, unarmed and unable to kill any game, under the baking sun to a trading post.

Hugh Glass has an even more amazing story. In August of 1823 Ol’ Hugh was in pretty rough shape after a scrape with a grizzly. Although he survived, his compatriots were convinced he would succumb to his wounds. Unwilling for the entire party to nurse Hugh into the great beyond, Andrew Henry, the expedition leader, asked for two men to stay behind and bury Hugh once he’d “gone under”. Jim Bridger, all of 17 years old, and John Fitzgerald volunteered to stay behind (for extra pay). A large party of mountain men was always pretty safe, even in very hostile Blackfoot country. The Indians had learned quickly that the mountain men were excellent marksmen, and any attack on a large party would result in very high casualties. But two able bodied men, and a dying man? They were easy prey for any Indians looking to count coup or steal some horses. Bridger and Fitzgerald stayed with Hugh and nursed them as best they could, but he just didn’t seem ready to die. After the second day the more experienced Fitzgerald started dropping hints at the unfairness of their having to wait so long for Hugh to die. By day three Fitzgerald had talked the young Jim Bridger into leaving Hugh and catching up with the main party. They grabbed Hugh’s gun, knife and “possible sack” –as these would never be left behind if he really had died- and they left. Hugh Glass, however, had other ideas.

After slipping in and out of consciousness for days Glass was able to pull himself to the edge of a nearby spring. He took stock of his situation. He was alone, without gun or knife, his leg was broken, and the ribs on his back exposed from the swipes of the grizzly, his wounds were festering, and he was naked. Glass realized that the men who were supposed to nurse him had left him for dead. Glass was furious and vowed he was going to kill both Bridger and Fitzgerald. But first he had to get back to civilization. He set his own broken leg and started crawling east to Ft. Kiowa. It is said that to prevent gangrene Glass rolled his festering wounds on a rotten log to get the maggots into the wound and clean out the dead tissue.

Fearing hostile Indians, Glass didn’t turn towards the closer settlement of Grand, but instead crawled for six weeks to Cheyenne. Somewhere along the way he ran into a band of Indians who took pity on him and sewed a bearskin over his back to promote healing of those wounds.

Arriving at Ft. Kiowa, Glass recuperated for several months. True to his word, as soon as he was healthy enough Glass set out to find Bridger and Fitzgerald and kill them both. When he ran into Bridger along the Yellowstone everyone in the fort thought he was a ghost –they’d all been told he was dead and buried- the boy’s wispy beard drove home just how young he was. Glass couldn't bring himself to kill the boy who was no doubt easily influenced by the older, more experienced Fitzgerald. Glass left in search of Fitzgerald. He found Fitz a few weeks later and discovered he was working as a scout for the Army. Killing a member of the Army was a hanging offense. Glass let Fitzgerald live as well, but he did retrieve his rifle.

Day 4 will be posted later today…
09 570 Rallye Beast
"Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba…"-Hunter S. Thompson

homerj screwed with this post 12-26-2012 at 03:08 AM
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