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Area Mountain Men Are On A Mission Fans Recreate Early 1800 West At Camp At Cataldo Mission

They sleep in tepees, cook food by fire, make their soap by hand and wear loincloths instead of underwear.

Welcome to the early 1800s - at least for the weekend.

White tepees and canvas huts formed a camp below the Cataldo Mission this weekend. Here, through period clothes, history lessons and a little imagination, about 60 people transported themselves back in time.

They landed at the 7th annual Mountain Man Rendezvous.

“You try to, in some way, glimpse the past,” said Mike McCoy of Moscow. “I think you get the yearning to find out what it was like - you try to recreate history.”

Native Americans, fur traders and pioneers gathered Sunday for the rendezvous. There was a tomahawk-throwing contest and an evening feast - complete with a turkey baked in the ground.

Outsiders from the modern world were permitted to wander through the camp, taking in the history lesson and buying handmade goods.

Clad in a colonial-era tri-cornered hat and spectacles Ben Franklin might have worn, McCoy spent Sunday hawking pipes, pottery, candle lanterns and tinware.

He wore a beaded medicine pouch around his neck carrying small items of sentimental value: a tooth from the cougar he killed; an 1848 coin - made 100 years before his birth.

And his “mountain man toothpick.”

The uninitiated might think twice before picking any teeth with it. This small shard of bone comes from a male raccoon’s, uh, privates.

Each mountain person has their own name or persona they recreate for the weekend.

McCoy is a trader who goes by the name Bullfeathers.

Ula Andersson of LaClede goes by “White Mourning Dove.” Tony Roberts of Colfax goes by “Badger.”

Brenda Clow went by the name “Goodfire” at the rendezvous. Why? “I make a good fire,” she said.

Bill Mossman, better known as “Fox,” decorated the inside of his tepee with an animal-skin drum, a painted fox skull and a war club adorned with leather and feathers.

The rendezvous started seven years ago, when he and his wife, Karen, married at the Cataldo Mission in a ceremony consistent with the early 1800s.

For the participants, the rendezvous is a chance to visit good friends and recreate a time period they are fascinated with, he said.

“There is a trust, a love,” Mossman said. “We are all brothers and sisters.”

For Mont “Grey Whirlwind” Bigler, it’s a way to get in touch with his Cherokee ancestry. He showed up for the event dressed in moccasins, leather leggings and a headdress made of porcupine hair.

“It’s kind of like a calling to me, to follow the Indian path, to love the earth,” he said.

“You get back into the woods, you appreciate nature,” McCoy agreed. “It’s a freedom. You don’t have to deal with everyday life.”

, DataTimes