Mountain men alive and among
MOUNTAIN MEN: Robert
Hoth of Logan, left, and Bill Lowry of North Nogan.
/ Photo by Jen Pulham
By Jen Pulham
February 9, 2006 | In a room full of T-shirts and
jeans, scout uniforms and big winter coats, one man
stands out in a beaver felt hat, a red mountain man
blanket vest, tanned leather pants and moccasins.
Logan resident Robert Hoth, or Cut Blanket, has been
practicing mountain man skills since he was a child.
"Ever since I was 9 or 10 I started to learn to
track from my father," said Hoth. "Even my
grandfather learned to track."
Hoth, now 64, is a member of the Old Ephraim Mountain
Men, and regularly attends encampments and rendezvous.
Old Ephraim Mountain Men, started in 1974, is based
in Cache Valley and has about 35 members, half of them
women. Longtime members have mountain man names, such
as Cut Blanket, and newer members are called pilgrims.
Hoth has been a member for more than 25 years.
North Logan's Bill Lowry has only been a member for
about two years, and is still a pilgrim. Lowry's involvement
stems from his fascination with explorers Lewis and
Clark. "My wife and I started looking at Lewis and Clark
about two years ago," he said. "We concentrated on trying
to get a feel for the objects they took with them."
This love for history led to his involvement with
the Mountain Men. "The emphasis for me is objects,"
Lowry said. "I guess I just like the history of the
hardware." His collection of objects includes bullets,
badger skins, a knapsack, and an 1803 Flintlock rifle.
Mountain Men encampments take place once a month,
and they have a rendezvous every Labor Day weekend in
Blacksmith Fork Canyon. What do they do at encampments?
"Have fun," Hoth said. "We learn new skills. We sleep
in lean-tos and tents. We do beading and leather craft."
On average, 25 people attend encampments, and 100 attend
rendezvous, where mountain men can trade objects. Mountain
men from around the state are invited to the rendezvous,
hosted by the Old Ephraim Mountain Men.
Other skills Hoth has developed include a heightened
sense of smell. "I can smell people two-thirds
to three-quarters of a mile off," he said. "There
was a time when I was walking with my wife, and I said,
'there's a young lady up ahead,' and we got about half
a mile up and, like I said, there was a bar girl."
About seven or eight times a year Hoth is invited
to speak on his experiences. Dale Ashcroft, zookeeper
at the Willow Park Zoo, asked Hoth to come for "An Evening
at the Zoo," an educational program the zoo hosts the
first Thursday of every month. "I've seen him many times,"
Ashcroft said. "I've heard him and I've seen him interact
with children. I knew it would be G-rated."
The "Evening at the Zoo" is held in the zoo's new
Wildlife Learning Center, dedicated last May. The big
room slowly filled with scouts, adults, and the noise
of children asking curious questions to Hoth and Lowry
before the presentation began.
Hoth invited Lowry to come, and the two spoke to an
audience of more than 50 people. Hoth, dressed as a
traditional mountain man, told accounts of Daniel Boone,
Jim Bridger and other mountain men. Lowry, dressed in
a Lewis and Clark costume he made himself, told stories
from their history.
They showed the audience different tools and clothing
pieces, including a hatchet Hoth has used to clean out
deer, and a black bear fur hat piece that Lowry keeps
in his personal collection.
Lowry said he "hasn't the foggiest" why
he loves it so much, but that it was interesting to
see what people 200 years ago were like.
TICKLED: Rhett Gebert,
4, laughs in the lap of his mother, Jill Gebert, of
Logan, while watching the Mountain Men give an educational
talk at the zoo. Rhett is wearing a military hat from
the time of Lewis and Clark. / Photo by Jen Pulham