Kash’s Korner


The fur trade started when the first Europeans landed on this continent.  It was only with help from the Natives that the first settlements were able to grow enough food to survive the first few years after they landed here. For commerce, they began trading maze for fur with the interior tribes.  Jamestown and Plymouth both paid their way by trading fur with the Native Americans.  images Throughout history fortunes were made and lost in the trading of FUR.  The Louis and Clark Expedition began their sojourn just after the turn of the 19th century (1803-1805).  The Rendezvous Era (1825-1840) marks the near end of the Beaver population.  It only took 300 years to come to that point.  In comparison, it only took about 30 years to deplete the population of the Bison.

The Bear Lake Rendezvous is a representation of the end times of those glory days of the trade. The West was still young and unexplored.  The Far West was ripe with flavor and there for the taking.   As a group we do our best to show what it may have been like during those glory days of our rich past.  We try to expel the myths, prove the theories and explain why, where and how.

img23776729Our rendezvous site location is as close to the original 1827-28 as can be determined.  It is a mere mile or two off the main road that cuts through the valley, and a short distance, from pavement, via a ranch road.  We are authentic!


As we begin work toward this year, I sometimes entertain the thought that, perhaps, I am only fulfilling my own fantasies.  Do people really care about the history we are trying to interpret?  It is said that “it will take as much as five years to become established.”   I have been dedicated to rendezvousing for over 17 years.  With that investment of time I have learned that organizations, like ours, are often the last place most people will consider when it comes to support through monetary donation.

Then, I look at our Facebook page, with over 800 likes.  I recall the local schools, 592which make our event an annual part of their curriculum by bussing in 100 elementary children who are then treated to being amazed at the skills and techniques demonstrated by our dedicated traders, and I think YES! Folks do care.

We have only been at this for two years.   It is unfortunate that last year was a near washout due to poor weather.  We would not have made it through without a generous donation from the Kearl Ranch, located in Round Valley and just south of the Johnson Ranch, where we hold the rendezvous.  The rain kept the road soggy, even as the ranch owner remained diligent in keeping the road passable.  But our spirits remained high!  We, as Mountain Men and Women, are used to all kinds of weather.  We very seldom, if ever, will cancel our rendezvous due to a grumbling, roaring or raining sky.  So even if it looks threatening out, we’ll still be there to meet you, greet you and teach you. And, there will always be plenty of canvas shelters to keep you dry as we welcome you in. 617

We have all seen the Kick-starter and the GoFundMe campaigns on Facebook.  You turn on the television and there are dozens of commercials suggesting that just $19.00 a month will make all the difference in the world to a specific cause in which you may have interest.

This got me thinking.  If all of our 800 Facebook friends made a one-time donation of $19.00, we would be funded for the next three years and that would put us past the “getting established” window.  Be assured that all donations go to the cost of the event.  No one in our organization receives any pay.  We are all volunteers.  As a non-profit organization, like any other, The Bear Lake Rendezvous will only survive if it receives the support from those interested in the preservation of the period of our history we wish to keep alive.cropped-picture1.gif

The Bear Lake Rendezvous Inc. is a 501 (c) (3) organization under the Internal Revenue code and is fully qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, devises, transfers or gifts under section 2055, 2106 or 2522 of the code.  Your contributions are tax deductible under section 170 of the code.

We are also looking for corporate sponsors to sponsor Native American Indian dancers, facilities maintenance, Black Powder shooting competitions or general sponsorship. Sponsors are noted on our website and social media and donations are tax deductible.


Click HERE to donate using your credit card and our Paypal account or call us directly. We need the support to help us grow and produce a quality event.

Thank you all for your interest and support, and for those who have been so generous in helping our efforts thus far. Thank’s also to Rich County, the Johnson Family and the citizens of Rich County. We are in this for the long haul. We have a lot of work to do in the development of the site. If anyone has questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to contact me or anyone connected to our organization.

See you in August!

Kash Johnson

The Mountain Man



mmThe Mountain Man and Trapper lead a life that was dangerous and often ended in violence either by Indian attacks and ambush, or through encounters with Grizzly Bears.  Many drowned while crossing rivers, or died while preparing a cache which had collapsed.  Starvation and exposure was always a threat, particularly during the long winter months.  Exposure and arthritis were common ailments of mountain men.

But still they came.  Mountain Men were drawn to the wilderness.  High prices paid for furs and skins, particularly for beaver fur, held out the promise of a quick income.  Life in the mountains provided other motivations: adventure, freedom and independence.

In order to survive, mountain men learned skills including mastery of both rifle and pistol, swimming, mountain climbing, combat skills with gun, knife, and tomahawk, hunting, sign reading, horsemanship, trapping, and extreme condition survival.

The ability to speak a foreign language, particularly French, or Spanish was important.  The ability to communicate with Indians, particularly the Crow, Blackfoot, Sioux, Ute, Cheyenne or Shoshone was also of great value. Sign language fluency allowed a degree of communication with nearly all of the Western Indians.images (1)

Personal attributes included physical, mental and emotionalprowess as demonstrated in survival situations and remembered today in the stories about  the most famous of mountain men.  Because of these requirements, there were never great numbers. In all, there may not have been no more than 3,000 total.  Most mountain men were young, in their teens, twenties and thirties, although there was no limit on age.  Jim Bridger was 17 when he made his first trip to the mountains, Kit Carson was 16.  Conversely, Edward Robinson was in his late 60’s, Jim Beckworth was 68, and “Old” Bill Williams was 62 when they lost their lives. Then there were those mixed-blood children of a trapper/trader father and an Indian mother, who were born and raised to the life, knowing no other way of living, except to be a “Mountain Man”.

Contrary to popular notion, the Mountain Man was not a solitary individual, pitting his strength and skills against nature and man for survival in the wilderness.  Most commonly the mountain men traveled in a well armed and organized group called a “brigade” containing 30, 50 or sometimes more than 100 men.  Only after the brigade images (2)reached the area in which the hunt was to be conducted, would the brigade split into smaller groups which would again split into smaller groups.  Small groups of two, three and sometimes one man would go out and trap an individual stream or reach for a day or so before returning to join up with one of the larger groups.  Indian wives and families would often accompany the brigade.

The social structure of Mountain Man society was stratified, with two basic levels, the free trapper, and engagés, with further stratification of the latter.

Engagés, or hired men, worked for the company and depending onimages the terms of employment, would receive a wage, and all or part of their equipment and supplies.

The free trapper represented the pinnacle of Mountain Man society.  The Free Trapper was responsible for equipping himself, but traveled and trapped with whom he pleased, and sold his furs and skins to whoever offered the best
prices.  In spite of their elite social standing, the free trapper was at the mercy of the fur markets, and might leave the annual rendezvous penniless, or even indebted to the company suppliers.

The exploits and adventures of the Mountain Men became legendary as these individuals represented the cutting edge of exploration, at a time when the entire nation was focusing its attention to westward expansion.


Welcome to 2015

This coming August 19 – 25, 2015 we are excited to present the 3rd annual 2015 Bear Lake Mountain Man Rendezvous located in Laketown Utah. The  Bear Lake valley is the site of two (2) of the 16 original mountain man annual gatherings.

As the new year begins we also begin the planning and preparing of the rendezvous. We are exited for the challenges of 2015!

Dana doing what she does best. Teaching History.

Dana doing what she does best. Teaching History.

We are happy to have Dana Kearl on board as our historian and official rendezvous recorder/photographer PR person. Dana is the person to contact for press releases, BLR history and official BLR photos/videos. She is producing a series of blogs this winter to inform and educate any who have an interest in the Bear Lake area as well as the mountain man culture. Dana’s family heritage originated as settlers from Laketown. She has a deep passion, as we do, to share the rich and colorful history of the area especially during the fur trade period which was a time of wonderment and discovery,

We can use all the help we can get as we prepare. We’re not asking for lots of time or lots of money. Sometimes a comment or good idea is just as valuable.


So sit back and enjoy the research from Dana. She also plans on a slide show/video of the previous Bear Lake Rendezvous’s. As we settle into winter and a new year stay warm and dry and dream of the of green grass of springtime and the sound of song birds at sunrise.

Contact us and keep up with us at;





Ten more days! Things are going well. We have had lots of questions about the exact location of the rendezvous. On our website www.bearlakerendezvous.com you can view the map with directions including exact mileage from highway 30 in Laketown. Also, included is our contact #’s. ReminIMG_0243ding you that cell ser
vice can be spotty so LEAVE A MESSAGE and be patient. When service is available we can call you back.

We are doing our best to have signage. We expect that travelers are sharp enough to get to Laketown Utah. If you are really savvy here ya go..  41.83030296550294, -111.36064572259784


Additional Mileage Landmarks to the Laketown turnoff:

Rendezvous beach east 1.8 miles

Ideal Beach Main Gate 6.6 Miles

Garden City 9.7 MilesIMG_0323

Logan 49.2 Miles

From Sage Creek Junction 12.1 miles

From Randolph Utah 20.8 Miles

From Woodruff Utah 30.7 Miles

From Evanston Wyoming 53.4 Miles

Click here for Map

Also a reminder. Bring ice and water. We have a limited supply of water available at the “spring” tent located at the food court. Ice is available at Dee’s service in town. We have asked that they have an ample stock.

We want to remind you:

If you have any questions we can be contacted by cell or text. Service can be spotty so leave a message and contact number an we will call back.

Kash Johnson 801-452-1518

Joel Marler 801-567-1194


This is an outdoor event. Dress accordingly and prepare for inclement weather, uneven ground , loud noises, animal encounters and unpaved roads.

Dogs must be on a leash and poop picked up and discarded

This is a family event. Please act and dress as if your kids and grand kids are watching you.

Please bring ice and water for personal use. Please pickup after yourself. This is a non profit all volunteer event. If you leave it behind leave it in the appropriate location.

We are looking forward to a great event with fun for all.

Remember, we expect to make mistakes. Complaining without a solution is whining! Criticism with ideas for a solution are not only welcome, but solicited.

20 Days



The site has been mowed and prepared

So the countdown begins.

We had a chance to visit the site this week. We plotted out traders row, primitive camping area, day parking and tin tipi camping area. We have a great area for shooting competitions and demonstrations. Archery and knife & hawk throwing areas. We located the entry/gate area and food court location where the “spring (water) tent” will be located.


Kash and Landowner Rick discuss the layout

We met with landowner Rick Johnson to discuss access points as well as issues from last year.

There is lots of work left to do. Signs to be made and posted. Contact radio and television to promote. Permits to be pulled and notices to be posted.

But that is the fun of it. We have a great site and look forward to all who can attend.

For any information watch the website www.bearlakerendezvous.com for the itinerary and contact information. IMG_3408

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

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.