Mountain Man of Pickle Hill

Posted: Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Today he's the general manager of KDLL, Pickle Hill Public Radio, but back in the 1980's after one of those years when things were just not working out very well, Allen Auxier lived the life an early 19th century mountain man.

"In 1979 I lost my job, I got evicted from my house, my girlfriend married somebody else, my boat sank, and somebody stole my motorcycle. So I just decided it was time to go on my mountain man trip and see if I could live the way the mountain men did in the pre-1840 era," recalled Auxier, who added that he had always been fascinated with that period of history. He tanned his own buckskin, sewed the hides by hand and even made his own saddle and pack equipment utilizing only the tools available from that era.

Staying as much as possible in the backcountry of the national parks and forests, Auxier began his 14-month adventure in Jackson Wyoming and rode to Durango Colorado where he and his companions wintered at a cattle ranch before riding back to Ft. Bridger Wyoming where he concluded his mountain man journey. "We had no new equipment whatsoever, everything that we had was pre-1840 and would have been available at that time in the Rocky Mountains. As much as we could we lived off the land eating berries, wild asparagus, strawberries, nuts, acorns, roots and things like that, some grasses and ferns, wild onions, some small game and fish," said Auxier, who didn't remember getting sick or even catching a cold during the entire odyssey.

Asked if the lifestyle he experienced met the romantic stereotypes of a simpler more pristine time when men were closer to nature, Auxier commented, "I'll tell you this, it is an awful lot of work and it's very romantic in retrospect, but at the time it was just an awful lot of work to survive. So today while I may carry matches with me into the backcountry, I'll always keep my flint and steel handy. I learned to roll a cigarette, light it with flint and steel, riding on a horse, in a rainstorm, and as long as I can do that, I know I can survive in the wilderness."

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