Time Travel is possible



The cool dawn breaks. As the eastern sky begins to lighten, wood smoke from dozens of cook fires wafts across the valley. The smell of bacon frying makes bearded mouths water. The stomachs of buckskin clad men growl in anticipation of a morning meal.

Such was the start of a typical morning at the 1827 Mountain Man Rendezvous at Sweet Lake (Now Bear Lake) and such is the way a typical morning will play out at the 2014 Bear Lake Rendezvous in Laketown Utah. August 20-24.

History comes alive as authentic trappers, traders and Indians recreate the glorious hey days of the fur trade. There will be dancing and singing, trading, tall tales and tomahawk, knife, archery and black powder rifle competitions. Browse the trade tents where authentic mountain man and Indian goods are available to purchase. Everything from buckskins, teepees and canvas tents to black powder rifles, bull horns and bows and arrows will be laid out in an amazing array of accurately recreated history. Marvel as the modern day craftsmen use primitive techniques and tools to make the everyday items of mountain man culture.

It wasn’t and isn’t all about the men either. You’ll see women adorned in buckskin dresses, beads and feathers or cotton shirts and calico dresses throwing knives and tomahawks at targets. (Not mountain men, though some may deserve it!)

So if you’re looking for a new and exciting adventure, step back in time and join us. Bring the family, spend an hour, a day or stay for the duration. Wrap a lip around some tasty mountain man cooking. Primitive camping is available.

For more information go to: http://www.bearlakerendezvous.com/  Text and photo by Dave Petersen

Kash’s Corner……. What We Want To Accomplish

What We Want To Accomplish

The original purpose of a mountain man rendezvous was to re-supply the men in the field so there was no need for them to return back to the settlements. The idea was that if you keep your men working, you could keep your men. Credit for this system goes to the Ashley, Henry partnership back around 1822.

In a letter to Governor Simpson of the Hudson’s Bay Company, July 1, 1826, Peter Skene Ogden pointed out what he considered to be a great advantage in the American system of rendezvous. He says that “whereas the Hudson’s Bay Company that spend two-thirds of their time traveling from headquarters to the Snake River, the American trappers stay five or six years in the field and equippers met them annually to secure furs and renew their supplies”.A-Short-Break-From-Rendezvous-20x30-Connor-300x252

In chapter 20 of Washington Irving’s book “Bonneville’ he describes a rendezvous. I’m not going to right down the whole description just a few things that stand out to me.

“The Green River Valley was at this time [1833] the scene of one of those general gatherings of traders, trappers, and Indians. Three rival companies for the past year had been endeavoring to out-trade, out-trap, and out-wit each other, were here encamped in close proximity, awaiting their annual supplies.
“After the eager rivalry and almost hostility displayed these companies in their late campaigns, it might be expected that, when thus brought in juxtaposition, they would hold themselves warily and sternly aloof from each other, and should they happen to come in contact, brawl and bloodshed would ensue.

With all the pressure off, it was time for the various camps to engage in contests of skill at running, jumping, wrestling, shooting with the rifle, and running horses.“No such thing! Never did rival lawyers, after a wrangle at the bar, meet with more social good humor at a circuit dinner. The hunting season was over, all past tricks and manuvres (his spelling) are forgotten, all feuds and bickerings (his spelling) buried in oblivion. From the middle of June to the middle of September, all trapping suspended; for the beavers are then shedding their furs, and their skins of little value. This, then, is the trapper’s holiday, when he is all for fun and frolic, and ready for a saturnalia among the mountains.

“And then their rough hunters’ feasting and carousals. They drank together, they sang, they laughed, they whooped; they tried to out-brag and out lie each other in stories of their adventures and achievements. Here the free trappers were in all their glory; they considered themselves the “cocks of the walk, and always carried the highest crests.”

“The caravans of supplies arrived at the valley just at this period of gallantry and good fellowship. Bales were hastily ripped open, and there motley contents poured forth. A mania for purchasing spread itself throughout the several bands—munitions for war, for hunting, for gallantry, were seized upon with equal avidity—rifles, hunting knives, traps, scarlet cloth, red blankets, garish beads, and glittering trinkets, were bought at any price, and scores run up without any thought how they were ever to rubbed off. For the free trapper, especially, were extravagant in their purchases. For a free mountaineer to pause at a paltry consideration of dollars and cents, in the attainment of any object that might strike his fancy, would stamp him with the mark of the beast in the estimation of his comrades. For a trader to refuse credit “would be a flagrant affront scarcely to be forgiven”.

The full version of this account is in The American Fur Trade of the Far West by Hiram Martin Chittenden. This is very informative reading, although some of his facts do not agree with other scalars of the time. That would be why we can’t rely on only one source for our information.


The above mentioned rendezvous took place on the upper Green River, where a good share of the fifteen recognized actual rendezvous’ took place.1825-1840). Our Bear lake Rendezvous is in the location of the 1827 and 1828 Rendezvous at the south end of Bear Lake Utah. This was the third and fourth rendezvous proceeded only by the first 1825, at Burnt Fork Wyoming and the second 1826, in Cache Valley Utah.

Recreating an authentic mountain man rendezvous at an historically correct actual rendezvous location, I feel, obligates us to stay as true to history as possible!

I’ve always been a believer in playing by the rules. You don’t use a bat to play football, and you don’t tackle the runner in a baseball game. Why would you sell beaded cell phone cover or Bic cigarette lighter covers at a rendezvous?


A modern day rendezvous is supposed to be a representation of a historic event. This is what we will be doing at the Bear Lake Rendezvous. We appreciate those who have the same passion and are always on the lookout for like minded folks to join us.

Well that’s all for now. Just remember these words are only my opinion. I welcome the chance to discuss anyone’s opinions.

Soar Free

Here We Go

August 22nd-25th 2013

Hello The Camp!

Thanks to all who have pledged their support. We are happy to report the 2013 Bear Lake Rendezvous is ON!

Our plans are underway to make the 1st annual Bear Lake Mountain Man Rendezvous the “best / first” rendezvous you have ever attended.photo (4) - Copy

To all the Bear Lake visitors, seasoned buck-skinners and Rich County residents. Please mark your calendars and plan on attending.




For any questions, comments or offers please contact


Chairman:  Kash Johnson             801-452-1518

Booshway: Roger Backus             435-616-5159

Segundo:    Craig Miller                435-901-3322




Email: info@bearlakerendezvous.com

Mail: PO Box 44, Woodruff UT 84086

The Naked Truth

Hello All,

We started thinking about Bear Lake as a great place to re-create a mountain man rendezvous. After all, the Bear Lake Valley is the place two of the twenty mountain man rendezvous’s actually occurred (1827-28). In late August, the area is beautiful and full of fun seeking, enthusiastic visitors.

We, as a group, are fast approaching a crossroads in our planning, implementing and executing a successful 2013 Bear Lake Rendezvous. (BLR)

Here is a quick overview.

Things we have:

  • We found a landowner who appreciates the historical and educational elements a rendezvous re-creation would offer as well as celebrating the heritage of the area. He is willing to let us use his land accepting all the wear and tear that comes with holding an event concluding the sacrifice is worth it.
  • We have Kash Johnson, a dedicated mountain man historian with 14 years experience in managing mountain man rendezvous re-creations. His only interest is to share his passion with those willing and interested to learn about the mountain man era.
  • We have the support of the local community who are anxious to see a rendezvous event and embracing the idea.
  • We have local and state media anxious to cover the event because it is in UTAH.
  • We have a tourist based recreational area with over 15,000 people in the area playing and having fun on the scheduled weekend. It is a very focused local market with lots of people with a lot  of money looking for things to do. Translation: Traders have a lot of potential customers ready to spend.

Tasks accomplished

  • Meetings with the landowner, county commissioners, Laketown town council
  • Incorporated as Bear Lake Rendezvous Inc.
  • Applied for and received non-profit status
  • Fire Barrels
  • Land owner agreement
  • Site layout
  • Website www.bearlakerendezvous.com
  • Facebook page
  • Logo created
  • County permit
  • Hooters purchased and refurbished
  • Bank Account
  • Alliances formed with The National Oregon California Trail Center, The American West Heritage Center and Bear River Heritage Area.


Insurance $850

Port a pots $2000

Dump fees $500

Gate management $500

Office supplies $200

P.O. Box $45

State registration $15

501(c)(3) $400

Water $250

Land lease $300

Web page $100

Advertising $300

Unexpected/emergency funds $1000

Total $6460.00

Now, full disclosure. We have the money to proceed. So this is not a plea for money.

We have most of the ingredients necessary to cook up a great event.   But we have to have the participation of traders and campers to attract a visitor market. As of now we have 11 traders registered. The area will support as many as we want. We need to have 35 traders/campers signed up and committed to attend to provide a marketable product to the visitors.

If we do not have 35 traders/campers signed up/committed by June 20th  we will cancel the 2013 BLR and make plans for the 2014 BLR. All paid registrations will be 100 % refunded.

If we do cancel 2013 we would be interested to find out why there was not enough interest with the traders/campers. Bad dates? Too close to Bridger Rendezvous? Too hot? Think people will not attend? Bad Location?Your input will help us move forward and make changes as necessary for 2014.

Understandably, there is apprehension about a new event. Our number one goal was to produce a quality event for the participants as well as the visitors.  We will pursue this goal and refuse to offer a “bad” event that will denigrate the future of the Bear Lake Rendezvous.

Also,  receiving non-profit status will allow us to attract corporate sponsors who will be willing to contribute to the success of the future rendezvous. We can get into budgets for 2014 and the donation is then tax-deductible.

So anyway, thanks for reading through. It’s up to you. If you have registered, thank you. Please talk to all those that may not have heard. Pass on the info to friends and family. We are excited to proceed, if not this summer, next summer. We can make this a rendezvous to be proud of.

Thanks BLR INC.

Kash’s Korner


bear lake

In 1827 Sweet Lake or Bear Lake as we know it today, was located in Mexico. Just to clear that up, they didn’t move the lake they moved Mexico.

In June of that year William Ashley lead a pack train with supplies valued at $22,447 out of St. Louis, into the Bear Lake area. They left St. Louis on April 12, 1827. A four pounder cannon mounted on wheels was the first wheeled vehicle ever to be taken to the mountains. the route taken would eventually become the famous Oregon Trail.

Mountain Men and Indians began to gather at the south end of the lake in June 1827. This would be near the town of Lake Town Utah.

An account given in Fred R Gowans book, Rocky Mountain Rendezvous, quotes Danial Potts record of a skirmish with about 20 Blackfoot Indian warriors who attacked and killed a Snake (Shoshone) and his squaw. The alarm was given and the Snake, the Utaws, and the Whites sallied forth for battle.

Now if you read the account given by Mr. James Beckwourth, it was an all-out battle, involving more than 300 Trappers and therebeckwourth allies. After six hours of battle, more than 173 Blackfoot scalps were taken. Mr. Beckwourth was known to stretch the truth just a bit.

This is just a short over-view of some of the history. The fun is researching this stuff, now days it’s an easy process. Just Google it.


When I first got into this Mountain Man thing, here, I’m not sure what to call it. Is it a “SPORT”? I’ve heard it called that. Are we “Buck-skinners”? That is a general term, some call themselves that, others are offended by it. We have been called a unregulated “Militia” by the U.S. Government, things like that are said when you don’t take the time to understand what your talking about.


I like to think of it as a celebration of our culture. To re-enact is to play a part, I’m no actor. So for me,I’m going to call it “Living History” museums to me are “Dead History” interesting but not even close to being as much fun.

As I was saying when I first got into this, I was told to get the book Mystic Warriors of the Plains by Thomas Malls. I was told it is the “Buckskinner Bible”. The Mountain Men of old lived much the same as our Native American brothers. Don Berry author of the book A Majority of Scoundrels, came to the conclusion that they actually became a tribe of there own.

That’s the way it was 30 years ago when I first got started. Things have changed to the point that a lot of these so called “Pre-1840 rendezvous” are nothing more than a place to sell anything that might resemble Indian stuff, with little or no regard for history. That’s not to say there aren’t some excellent rendezvous out there, there just getting harder to find.

The Bear Lake Rendezvous is not going to be just another run of the mill small town fund raiser. We intend to show respect for the history and and the people who created that history,to the best of our ability.

Thank you for all the help you are about to offer. We want to make this a fun and informative event for all. I recommend downloading and reading Philip Covington’s accounts. Click Here to Read

BLR Connected

Hello All,

This is the first Bear Lake Rendezvous blog. This is where folks that don’t love, understand or hate Facebook can also find information about the rendezvous and participate in duscussions.

The blogs will also be posted as a link to our Facebook Page.

We also have a Twitter account for those of you who follow that.

Of course there is our website www.bearlakerendezvous.com .

Kash Johnson is the director of the Bear Lake Rendezvous. He brings with him 30 plus years of rendezvous and mountain man experience. He doesn’t just “talk” the life, he “lives” the life. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions please contact him:


Phone: 801-452-1518

We encourage everyone to take part in the discussion. We need lots of good ideas and comments to mold this event into something we can all be proud of.

Now, finally, please be patient and understand, this is a group effort! Expect the unexpected. Be critical only if you have suggestions to improve. There is a wealth of experience among us, but a lot of this is new to a lot of us. If you have expertise or specialties that you can share and contribute please do. If you have questions please ask.

Our goal is to provide a fun, family friendly event that will offer information to folks eager to learn about an era rich with allure and colorful characters. .