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Mountain kids hold rendezvous in schools

Jared Whitley Of the Record staff
Children play an Indian arrow game at Trailside Elementary School Monday morning. Grayson West/Park Record
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Folks `round these parts celebrate Thanksgiving a lil differ’ntly than most.

Fourth-graders dressed as cowboys, mountain men, pioneers, and Indians on Monday, as Trailside Elementary School celebrated its annual pre-Thanksgiving rendezvous.

"(Thanksgiving) is about the same time we get to mountain men in social studies," said teacher Linda Crowther, dressed as Sacagawea. "It just lends itself to it."

When Crowther started the rendezvous at Parley’s Park Elementary School in the 1980s, the kids only "made a stew and watched a video on mountain men. It’s grown every year since then."

This year kids made Indian masks from milk cartons and other crafts, held a trading post, played Indian games, made a giant stew, and square danced.

"We’re learning about the pioneers," Brianna Watts said. "Well, actually mountain men. They came to Utah to trap beaver for beaver hats. Some of them married Indian women and they used leather for if they were hungry. They could just take it off and eat it."

Marcus Kellner thinks the life of a mountain man would be fun.

"Mountain men live outdoors and I like the outdoors and stuff," Kellner said. "They’re free. They don’t have to live in a home with their parents."

Mountain men could "do anything all day, like maybe whatever you want," Kellner continued. "You can just explore."

There were no mountain women, explained Sarah Lamphier, which was fine with her.

"You have to sometimes go for days without eating and without shelter and stuff, so it would be hard to survive," Lamphier said. "You’d have weapons to kill beaver."

The children made "possibles bags," in which mountain men and others carried everything that made life "possible."

"It’s what the Indians used to have so they could put their stuff in there," said Claudie Garcia. Her bag had fringe, beads, feathers, and a glue smiley face.

Zachariah Thayne said, "It’s cool. You cook and do a lot of stuff. You don’t do fun stuff like this" on a normal day. Living in the olden days would be "sort of good," Paige DaBell said, "because now we have cars and in the olden days, you would actually have to get some exercise and ride your bike or something and there would be less pollution."

Children played an Indian game where they tossed straws (instead of arrows) into a circle, Hunter Perry explained. You try to land your straws on another person’s, and if you do, then you get to collect them. Whoever gets all the straws in the end wins.

It’s not as much fun as Playstation, Perry explained, "but it’s close." Mountain man and tall tales

Professional mountain man Scott Sorenson visited the children, sharing photographs and tall tales. He and his family run a lodge in Canada. Sorenson, who grew up in the area, told the children when he was their age, he learned about mountain men in school.

"I told (my teacher) I wanted to be a mountain man, she told me they died out 100 years ago," Sorenson said.

When Sorenson was 15, he wanted to participate in the deer hunt, he told the fourth-graders, but he couldn’t drive, so he went out on his bicycle. He shot a buck, and it collapsed, so he put it on the back of his bike and started pedaling back to his home.

But the buck, who was only stunned, woke up and started kicking. The buck pedaled with Sorenson and the bike moved faster and faster.

"Most of that’s a ‘tall tale,’" Sorenson said. "Mountain men told tall tales and stories and yarns."

One time four wolves cornered Kit Carson up a tree. Two of the wolves left and brought back some beavers, Sorenson continued.

Sorenson showed the children a stretched beaver pelt, pictures of his lodge in Canada, an authentic beaver trap, and mountain man-style leather jerkin made from the hide of nine deer. To properly tan a hide, mountain men used the animal’s own brains, he said.

"That’s using your head," Sorenson joked.

Allison Gordon said, "Being a mountain man is kind of adventurous. Our teachers tell us about all the things the mountain men did and at the rendezvous today, I get all riled up and excited because we got to play games I’ve obviously never played before."


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