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Part 2: Mountain Man Rendezvous:
Epic Cycling Adventure in Alaska

By Frosty Wooldridge
Exclusive To

Part 2: Moose turd pitching, tomahawk throwing, flintlock rifle shooting, man chomping down on raw fish, bow & arrow practice, beef stew over the fire.

Again, we cycled into Glennallen, Alaska to meet up with a bunch of mountain men for their annual "Mountain Man Rendezvous."  Once they arrived into camp, everything they did replicated conditions for pioneers back in the 1850's. There were around 40 annual events and the only man to live long enough to attend them was the famous Jim Bridger.  You can actually see his flintlock rifle in the Mountain Man Museum in Pinedale, Wyoming.  Remember they traded with the Native Americans, smoked MJ, drank their fool heads off, shot buffalo, rolled tobacco and raised about as much hell as possible.

We met a cadre of buck skinners wearing their original leather on them. Also, leather boot-moccasins. They used flint rocks and steel to light their pipes and rolled cigarettes. 

"Gees, this is right out of a history book," Rex said.

"Never have come across anything like this," I said.

"How you boys doing?" a man named Curly asked.

"Just great, Curly," Rex said. 

"We've got the tents up," I said.

"How about some elk stew with lots of gravy and biscuits?" Curly said.

"Hungary enough to eat a bear," Rex said.

"We got some of that, too," Gonzo said.

We met men with wild names like Curly, Sucker, Bad Dude, Yukon Jack, Bushwhacker, "Shorty" who stood 6'5" tall and 250 pounds, and Flapjack Jones who provided the main meals.

The next day, Flapjack Jones cooked up scrambled eggs over a fire with burnt toast with homemade jam, fried potatoes and a little bit of ash mixed in from the fire.  We sat under the trees with the sky filled with 24-hour sunlight in the Land of the Midnight Sun.

We shot the flintlock rifles into targets.  We learned to clean the barrel, load the powder, insert the ball, tamp it down and set the flint.  When that monster of a rifle fired, it kicked like a mule. 

A man called Curly made a name for himself in that he designed and built many of those flintlock rifles being fired in camp.  Some of the buck skinners brought weapons left over from the Civil War. The teepees had gun racks built out of tree limbs outside their entrance flaps.  It was like walking around a movie set something like "Dancing with Wolves."  Except, it wasn't a movie. Those people lived it for real during the rendezvous.

To say the least, those men and women spent their lives in what I call, "hard livin'."  They could die from diseases, grizzly bears, Indian attacks, mountain lions, starvation, and/or broken legs from bad accidents.  No doctors to mend them or heal them. They did their business in outhouses at 40 below zero during the winters. To be a mountain man meant to live on the "raw edge" of life.

On the second day, we threw tomahawks, Bowie knives and shot bow & arrows. 

Gonzo, clad in buckskin leathers, stood in front of our tent.  In a wide belt, four tomahawks pressed into the mountain man's stomach. 

"You boys ready to throw a tomahawk?" Gonzo said.

"Sure would Gonzo," said Rex.  "A man can't be too careful these days.  What ya' got?"

          In reply, the mountain man spun on his toes and a whirling sound filled the air.  A tomahawk cut into a round slab of wood behind him.  Our eyes widened at the sights of the man's skill. 

          "Kin ya' teach us?" Rex said.

          The older man smiled, "Shor' the time you finish my lessons, you kin give your friends a haircut at 30 feet."

          We gathered around the man for the lesson.

          "First, ya' get a firm grip on the handle here and ya' face that big ole slab o' wood and pretend it's a grizzly 'bout ta' charge.  Then give a thought, real hard, of this here bein' the only thing betweenst you and that thar' bear. Then give yerself one last effort at livin'."

          Another quick motion from Gonzo and a second blade thudded into the wood near the first.

          "Now Buckskin Rex," Gonzo said. "Ya' hold the handle here, and do what I tole' ya'."

          Rex took his place alongside Gonzo, facing the target.  The mountain man showed Rex how to stand.  He gave a step by step lesson in the throwing motion and style that would stick the blade into the target every throw.  He told Rex the slab of wood was really teeth and claws of a charging grizzly.  The mountain man finished the lesson and placed the tomahawk into Rex's hand.

          "Okay," Gonzo said. "It's you who's got to stop that ole bear or he's a-goin to make a meal of ya'.  Let fly like I tole ya'...think it into the target."

          Rex threw the ancient weapon.  The whirling blade struck its mark alongside the other tomahawks.

          "You did it!" I yelled when the tomahawk cut into the target.

That was quite the tomahawk lesson for both of us.  Gees, how did we run into such an amazing moment on our cycle tour?  Dumb luck? Serendipity?  Whatever, we were having the time of our lives.

During the day, we got into a moose turd pitching contest.  Yup! The mountain men collected very round moose turds to play a game much like marbles around a ring.  To say the least, the game gave a pungent odor that clung to their leathers for a very long time.  Yes, I played, and my fingers got pretty stinky.  Nonetheless, I had a lot of fun!

Then, Yukon Jack got so drunk around dinner that he went fishing, caught a fish, and then, in front of all of us, he chomped down on the trout-and ate it raw.  Good grief, talk about laughter.  We laughed ourselves sick!

That night, the men invited us to take our chances in the arm-wrestling contest.  While Rex is a big man, too, around 6'1" tall and 210 pounds, several other 'skinners' proved hard core muscle men. 

"If I get to the finals," Rex said.  "I'll have to go up against Shorty."

"I hear he's never lost," I said.

"Yeah, I heard that, too," Rex said.  "We'll see what happens."

Sure enough Rex beat all takers until he got matched up with Shorty.

No kidding, but all the men and women around the arena made bets on Rex and Shorty.  I think several of the single women wanted Rex to win. He's one of those good lookin' dudes that turns the ladies' heads.

With the campfire blazing, the referee called Rex and Shorty to the big tree stump  in the middle of the wooded ring.  Both men glared at each other.  Shorty proved one hell of a scary opponent.  His size dwarfed Rex.

"Okay brother," I said. "Give it a go."

"Yup," Rex said.

The two men settled their elbows onto the stump. The referee watched them grasp each other's hands in a death grip.  He yelled out, "GO!"

Rex and Shorty's arms tightened. Their muscles grew taut. After 30 seconds, Shorty gave a big grin and simply pressed Rex's arm down to the stump.

"Shorty takes it," the ref said.

Everybody cheered and raised their beers to the evening sky.

We spent three days with those mountain men and women.  Great folks and fabulous memories!  We'll never forget firing those flintlock rifles, moose turn pitching, scrumptious breakfasts and dinners, and the experience of living back in Jim Bridger's time.

Part 3:  35 years later, Curly and the flintlock rifles, the end of an era.

On bicycle tour in Alaska, Frosty Wooldridge


Share these videos all over America:

In a five minute astoundingly simple yet brilliant video, "Immigration, Poverty, and Gum Balls", Roy Beck, director of  www.numbersusa.ORG, graphically illustrates the impact of overpopulation.  Take five minutes to see for yourself: v=LPjzfGChGlE&feature=player_ embedded

"Immigration by the numbers—off the chart "  by Roy Beck This 10-minute demonstration shows Americans the results of unending mass immigration on the quality of life and sustainability for future generations: in a few words, "Mind boggling!" v=muw22wTePqQ


-- Frosty Wooldridge
Golden, CO
Population-Immigration-Environmental specialist: speaker at colleges, civic clubs, high schools and conferences
Facebook: Frosty Wooldridge
Facebook Adventure Page: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World
Six continent world bicycle traveler
Adventure book: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World
Frosty Wooldridge, six continent world bicycle traveler, Astoria, Oregon to Bar Harbor, Maine, 4,100 miles, 13 states, Canada, summer 2017, 100,000 feet of climbing: