Women of
             the
             Fur Trade
 Winter Doins' for women           

Snowshoeing into Winter Camp

 

 

    The key to Comfort in robe season is robes, of course!
    Bufflers, and plenty of them! Another thing is wool, and
    plenty of it! Seriously, you can be comfortable, period
    correct, and still be feminine. I have been in winter
    camps and hunts in deep snow with below zero
    temperatures with no discomfort, at least not enough
    that I'd let any of those men folk know about it!

                             
   

                  Chris making French Dumplings

 


    Now those Native American women were climatized
    and Rocky Mountain tough. They wore no  
    undergarments.  This is where I differ! I don't like to
    freeze my "arse," and having been high-centered in
    the snow a few times, I have come to appreciate a few 
    items of my white trapper husband's clothing, slightly
    modified to fit, of course. A pair of woolen, or even
    heavy flannel drawers is worth triple its weight in gold
    come winter.

    Next are two undershirts of wool, either Guernsey
    frock style, which is supposedly similar to the
    Hensleys currently being made, or drop sleeve shirts
    with a button closure at the neck.  If wool is irritating to
    you, use flannel as the innermost garment, but wool is
    a must for the outer layer.  When its really windy or
    below zero I wear a wool scarf, which was mentioned
    by both Joe Meek and Warrin Ferris.

 

Jill-Note the Wool scarf on her neck.

 

    As the pampered wife of a white trapper, these three
    articles of white man clothing, {drawers, shirt, hat}, can
    be justified, for there is documentation of a trapper,
    Joe Meek, offering some of his clothing to keep
    Mountain Lamb warm.  If she was like me, that was the
    last time he owned it!  Just ask Crazy what happened
    to his bead collection!
 


    Although it is generally believed that women did not
    wear hip length leggings, a Sioux woman showed me
    her long women's leggings for cold weather
    wear.  These are snug fitting and reach to the hip, just
    as a man's would. Hers were brain tan, but I made
    mine of heavy weight wool. Now one woman telling me
    about these doesn't convince me they were in
    common use, but I believe women then, doing men's
    activity such as winter hunting trips in deep snow,
    would have adapted their normal outfits for practical
    survival.


    My dress is Northern Plains style, made from a heavy
    wool blanket.  In spite of the wrist length, open
    sleeves, my arms stay surprisingly warm.  This dress
    is so warm it's like wearing a capote.  I also wear a
    scarf around my neck to conserve body heat.

    Next, the feet.  I have two pair of side seam, hair on,
    winter moccasins.  One is of buffalo, the other pair are
    deer.  These are coated well with a mix of bear grease
    and beeswax before each camp. I take both pair on
    extended camps so I'll always have a dry pair.  You
    can wear socks, but I've found with the deer hide
    mocs it isn't necessary.  I always take two pair of
    socks,  though.  One for sleeping in and one for "just
    in case."  Some say deer hide mocs don't hold up, but
    I've put many miles on mine. The secret is to use a
    good hide for them.  These are by far my warmest
    mocs.  In deep snow I add on extra wool leg wraps to
    keep snow out of  the moccasin tops and to keep my
    lower legs dry. These go to the knee and are held in
    place with long leather thongs. 

    I wear mittens made from a wool blanket with a wool
    gusset sewn in the seam so those winter winds can't
    find any place to creep in.  Bring a second pair to sleep
    in or in case the first ones get wet.

 

Chris taking it easy.


    Indian women did not wear capotes.  Instead, they
    used a blanket belted around the waist, which could
    also be blanket pinned at the neck to form a hood.  I
    use this mainly for inactive times or when the weather
    really drops low, as I find it a bit awkward on the trail. I
    like the blanket just as well as a man's capote, so this
    bit of history is easy to comply with, and Crazy gets to
    keep his capote.


                                                    
           
                            Rick and Sandy's winter home.

  
    Our camp structure is a square canvas set up like a
    diamond fly shelter, with an extra piece of canvas
    across the front opening, for us ladies do need our
    privacy. This has the added advantage of keeping it
    about ten degrees warmer inside. A piece of oilcloth
    makes the ground or snow cover, as the case may be.

                                                



                                                  

                   Alice waking up with snow on her head


    Now those Native Americans were rich in buffalo
    robes for one reason- robe season, of course! So why
    should I be any different!  Our bed consists of two
    buffalo robes and two or three blankets, depending on
    the temperature.  This along with a bed warmer.  No,
    not hot  rocks, he's just hard headed like a rock!
 


    Seriously, those mountain men give off a lot of body,
    heat, including hot air!  You'll probably need to sleep
    with your head under the covers for warmth, so I
    suggest keeping a fresh- air hole.  I sleep in all my
    clothes, wearing those dry socks, mittens, and
    sometimes the dry moccasins.  The main secret is,
    don't go to bed wet, and you'll stay warm!  I've been
    comfortable in camps at -20 with this arrangement
.

 

  

Sitting around the fire getting warm and enjoying the company.
                                                


   Now for getting all this gear into camp, we use
   horses until the snow gets to deep and feed is 
   scarce, then we use snowshoes and toboggans.


   I hope this has given you women some helpful ideas 
   that you can use to make your cold weather outings 
   comfortable.  Believe me, I'm not one them that
   handles cold well, so if I can do it, you can too!  Try 
   it, you'll be surprised-you can survive.

  
WFT at Winter camp


   Oh, and the scenery you will enjoy!  The forest and
   the mountains take on a new beauty all wrapped in
   Mother Nature's blanket of snow, and you really feel
   one with nature, trying to survive in a winter
   wonderland.  There's something very spiritual out
   there, too, that I can't put into words-you just have to
   experience it for yourself!

 

 


                             Happy winter trails!

                                    Stargazer

 

            By the way Girls--Look at what we had to help   
                              keep us warm at night.

BEEFCAKES

                                                

                                                

                                                

                                                

                                                
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