December 06, 2008

Mountain Men

There were several years when I thought the greatest thing you could be was a mountain man. This was mostly inspired by our Scout leaders who were real mountain men in their spare time. 'Tiny' was the largest of these men. He walked me through the process of making mocassins -- where to measure the foot and how make a pattern, how to hide the stitches so you don't walk on them. As everybody knows the best mountain man thread is waxed dental floss. He shared leather, deerskin for the tops and buffalo soles. Us Scouts made leather pouches, the mountain man's 'possibles bag', because it held the things that made life possible that you'd need even if you lose track of your birchbark canoe and Duluth packs while shooting rapids: Flint, steel and char cloth for starting a fire, needle and thread to sew yourself back up and mosquito repellent, maybe some water purification pills or a snakebite kit. Our ideal was that everything should be 'old timey'. Our leaders made tipi poles and we'd tie them to the top of Tiny's microbus and go camping, like characters out of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. Tiny was a blacksmith. He made a set of throwing tomahawks and we got to practice throwing them in his backyard. The trick is to judge the spin correctly for the distance. After some practice we were able to throw a double loop and drive the blade into the face of an oak log out back of Tiny's house.


At December 06, 2008 7:28 PM , Blogger reverend dick said...

You had extreeeemley cool Scout Masters. Throwing axes? Sheesh.

At January 31, 2009 7:22 AM , Blogger Team Woodrich said...

I have some memories of tiny myself, the mountain man. I remember him singing Mr Bojangles around a fire at Crow Wing Scout Reservation.

At August 05, 2010 3:24 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

So cool. Oh how I long to go on an Outward Bound expedition or something to prove I'm still tough and learn wilderness survival skills. In highschool, I was totally in to building a log cabin in the woods and being a more pioneer way - made candles, spun wool, built a little furniture. In college I spent most of my time in the pottery shop. Then worked at the Living History Farms in Iowa. Now I am highly non-self-sufficient.


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