Rendezvous, Muzzle Loading and Black Powder
Bibliography of Linda's Rendezvous Stories
Here's where to find Linda's stories of Rendezvous camp life, horse-packing, and tipi-building in her various books.
Between Grass and Sky
No Place Like Home
Journal of a Mountain Man: James Clyman
Linda edited this journal and correspondence of James Clyman, a fur trapper and explorer of the 1800's.
Read Linda's essay about James Clyman, mountain men, western myths, forgotten westerners, and how she came to put together this book.
The Life of the Tipi
Photos and stories of the tipi Linda and George used in their rendezvous camping.
Bibliography of Rendezvous Stories by Linda M. Hasselstrom
Linda has written of her rendezvous camping, as well as other related experiences, in the following books. Here's where to find Linda's stories of Rendezvous camp life, horse-packing, and tipi-building:
Between Grass and Sky
No Place Like Home
Published 1987 by Barn Owl Books
July 10 through July 23
pages 177 through 189
In which Linda, George, Michael and Cuchulain the dog leave the ranch behind for a few days to take a rendezvous camp vacation near Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Utah. The entire camp responds to a fire, Linda teaches some little girls about edible plants, Michael manages to cut himself with his hatchet, Linda and George help dig the latrines, the family hopes not to encounter a bear while bathing, and Linda plays a joke on George over the purchase of a rifle.
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Published 1991 by Fulcrum Publishing
Anniversary Edition published 2008
Chapter called "Rendezvous!"
pages 35 through 47 (Anniversary Edition)
pages 34 through 44 (original edition)
In which Linda explains rendezvous re-enactment camping: describing the tipis, the period clothing, the articles of daily living, how camp life works, and why people are drawn to it.
Chapter called "The Cowboy and the Ride"
pages 49 through 67 (Anniversary Edition)
pages 46 through 61 (original edition)
In which Linda, George and Michael take a 75-mile horse pack trip with a group of buckskinners on the way to a National Rendezvous near DuBois, Wyoming. The route they take, through grizzly country, is perhaps the same one taken by John Coulter in the winter of 1807–1808. Linda has just a little bit of trouble with a hapless horse.
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Published 2002 by University of Nevada Press
Chapter called "Black Powder Smoke and Buffalo"
pages 112 through 125
In which Linda and George, Jim and Mavis, and another friend called Jack, are on a private ranch in Nebraska in order to shoot buffalo with period weapons. Is George’s .50 caliber cap and ball rifle up to the task? After the hunt will they survive the night in the rustic cabin in the 20-below-zero winter weather?
Chapter called "At the Rattlesnake Rendezvous"
Pages 126 through 131
In which the rendezvous campers along the Bad River in South Dakota find themselves in prime rattlesnake habitat and Linda plays a stalking game with a modern-day deer hunter who is not where he should be.
Chapter called "Sleeping with the Grizzly"
Pages 132 through 142
In which Linda revisits the buckskinner horse pack trip described in Land Circle and tells some tales of bear encounters.
Chapter called "The Second Half of Life"
Pages 145 through 150
In which Linda and George, and Mavis and Jim cut tipi poles in the Uinta Mountains of northern Utah. And Linda and George take a side trip from a rendezvous camp, still in their buckskinning garb, in order to attend one of Linda’s family reunions.
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Published 2009 by University of Nevada Press
Rendezvous stories information coming soon . . .
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Journal of a Mountain Man by James Clyman
Edited and introduced by Linda M. Hasselstrom
Published 1984 by Mountain Press
Reprinted 1998 by Tamarack Books
Now part of Scurlock Publishing Company's "Classics of the Fur Trade" series.
295 pages; 6x9
With chapter notes, bibliography, map and index.
This is a journal and correspondence of fur trapper and explorer James Clyman. In his own homey words, he relates his experiences in the heyday of the American fur trade and during the peak of immigration to Oregon and California. Clyman was a member of Jedediah Smith's first brigade, which discovered South Pass and opened the inter-mountain West to the beaver hunters. Crossing the country during the great migration of 1846, he encountered the Donner party and gave them sound advice that they tragically ignored. A "keen, thorough, and precise observer."
Journal of a Mountain Man --- an essay by Linda M. Hasselstrom
How did I come to edit this book?
I was attending a rendezvous in, I believe, Cody, WY, sponsored by the Yellowstone Mountain Men. I've written about the YMM several times. This is the club that accepted George as a member right away, but considered me for another year before accepting me. The club which loved to set up camp in the same area where rogue-- i.e., troublesome-- grizzly bears from Yellowstone Park were dumped. The club whose members were strict about the camp looking as it might have in 1840, but some of whose members, understanding the dangers of those grizzlies, kept high-powered weapons under their pillows. You didn't want to startle these guys in the middle of the night.
Despite their rough exteriors, however, these folks were a fine community, and I've written another story that took place during the time I spent with them in my book, No Place Like Home.
Their camps were always as far as possible from civilization, and no one was allowed in who wasn't prepared to observe the camp rules of dressing and behaving as if it were 1840.
On this particular night, the club members had probably followed their usual practice for the first night in camp: to bring to the central camp fire several dozen bottles of cheap wine. The lids had been removed, someone told us solemnly, because they were metal, and thus not "authentic to the rendezvous period." As the wine circulated, some families with children went quietly home, but many people stayed to renew friendships from past years.
Dog soldiers stayed sober enough to keep watch for trouble. I lost track of George, and sat on a rock some distance from the heat of the fire, enjoying the stars with no interruption from street lights.
Eventually, I fell into conversation with writer Winfred Blevins, who specializes in books about the fur trade. (see his website at www.winblevins.com) He'd just conceived the idea of the Classics of the Fur Trade series, I think, and planned to bring out a number of journals of mountain men, as well as reviving some older works of fur trade scholarship that had fallen out of print. The books in the series come as close as possible to eyewitness accounts of some of the West’s most intriguing history.
Besides discussing the fascinating and elusive history of the original beaver men (as western writer Mari Sandoz called them), Win and I exchanged ideas about Western history and myth in general. The first folks who wrote the Western story stuck with one myth: White Man Subdues Entire West, Including Savage Animals, Savage People, and Savage Landscape. The truth is much more interesting: plenty of other people came west with the white men bent on subduing the place, and many of them learned how to coexist, finding beauty and satisfaction in all its true conditions. The real heroes haven’t, until lately, been given much movie time or space in novels, because they were Indian, black, women, or otherwise not in the majority.
One of the ways to learn about the real west has always been through the journals of the people who explored it. Among the most interesting of those explorers were the "mountain men," lured west by the promise of riches trapping beaver to make top hats for Englishmen. Many of them were among the physical and mental elite of their time, best-educated, smartest, and most adventurous citizens. Men like Joe Meek caught the spirit of the west in The River of the West, but he had so much fun exaggerating his gaudy lifestyle we can’t trust his details.
James Clyman, by contrast, had the mental bent of a surveyor. A keen, thorough, and precise observer, he took measurements and noted facts. He lived through plenty of wild times, but he understates his own participation.
Besides the Classics of the Fur Trade series, available from Scurlock Publishing (www.muzzleloadermag.com/Classics), I recommend the bibliography in the Clyman Journal to learn more about the mountain men.
Born on George Washington’s lands as a tenant farmer, James Clyman was 31 years old when he went to the mountains with the second Andrew Henry expedition in 1823, recruiting his fellow enlistees from, as he put it, "grog Shops and other sinks of degredation." In his first year, he sewed Jedediah Smith's ear back on after a grizzly attack, saved William Sublette's life in a blizzard, and walked across most of Wyoming and Nebraska alone. He clubbed a badger to death with a couple of bones when he was hungry enough.
I didn't know all that when Win Blevins talked me into editing Clyman's journals, but I was fairly new to the muzzle-loading life, in love with my buckskinner, George Snell, and the lifestyle that prohibited modern noise in our isolated camps. I’d always loved history, having narrowly decided not to get my MA in studies of Greek and Roman life. Moreover, I was still one of those writers who hadn't yet published a book; editing this journal with the help of an established Western writer seemed like a great idea. I’d read Win’s Give Your Heart to the Hawks, his tribute to the mountain man, and consider it one of the best introductions to the truth of the fur trade life.
By the time I finished plowing through Clyman's life story, I was hooked on the man, and furious at the daughter who was too busy to write down his reminiscences at the end of her life. Sure, my feminist side realizes the poor woman was uneducated, overworked, had too many children, and didn't understand how important it might have been for us to know more about Clyman, but I haven't forgiven her yet for not having her priorities straight. I probably resented her more because my mother agreed with her, always urging me to stop writing and reading and clean house more often. Keeping the loss of Clyman's words in mind, I make a point of cleaning house much less often than I write.
In my notes, I found several pieces of material edited out of the book by the publisher, including the following:
Charles Camp, who first edited and published Clyman's diaries, said in tribute to him: "The moving force in his career was an intense love of the freedom of the wilderness. He, and probably his father before him, typified that class of borderers who were never satisfied with a patch of land if there was a chance of finding something better a thousand or three thousand miles farther on. He wandered restlessly for forty-one years over the breadth of the continent and into the farthest recesses of the mountains, carrying with him an intimate knowledge of the geography of the regions he explored."
Here's a description of how beaver were trapped, also deleted from the published book:
Around the campfire, eating ribs if the day's hunt had been successful, repairing moccasins, making bullets or cleaning rifles, they must have exchanged information about their profession-- after all, trapping beaver was new to most of them.
The diaries in The Journal of a Mountain Man had been published before this edition, but the volumes were not prepared for the general reader. The California Historical Society ran the diaries in its Quarterly from 1925 through 1927, then published them in book form, edited by Charles L. Camp. Only 330 copies were printed, and fewer than 300 offered for sale. A new edition was published in 1960, also out of print.
This volume reproduces all of Clyman's journals, much of his correspondence, and a little of his verse. I included information of general interest, corrections and comments at the beginnings and ends of his chapters.
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The Life of the Tipi
Below are photos of Linda and George's tipi, from birth through its golden years, and what happened after.
Stories to accompany the pictures coming soon.
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The end of the tipi?
In 2002 the twenty-year-old tipi poles, having been stored outdoors on a rack attached to the side of the garage, were in poor shape. Linda and some writing retreat participants spent some time one fine afternoon breaking up the poles. They hauled the short pieces to the burn pile on the ranch.
The tipi canvas, however, was given to a friend who will use it for Rendezvous camping.
So the tipi lives on.
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