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Rendezvous with mountain men

Mountain man “No Poles” sets up his canvas tent on Friday. He’s been participating in rendezvous for 18 years.  - Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times
Mountain man “No Poles” sets up his canvas tent on Friday. He’s been participating in rendezvous for 18 years.
— image credit: Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times

Don Abel of Kenmore is currently camping out alongside Highway 20 wearing buckskins and a necklace consisting of 100-year-old bear claws. But no, he’s not crazy. He’s a mountain man.

The Central Whidbey Sportsman’s Association’s 18th annual Rendezvous is under way. Men and women from all over the country gather at the Rendezvous to reenact the times of the fur trading era up until the 1840s.

Just off the aptly-named Safari Lane the sportsmen have canvas tents and teepees set up to sell and showcase beads, leather goods, early American cooking utensils and clothing. Throughout the event there will be shooting, archery, tomahawk and knife throwing competitions as well as games for children.

Abel has a campsite set up with his son, Dave Abel, who lives on the island.

“Everybody here is like family,” Dave Abel said. “It’s fun to camp and hang out. “It gets a little rowdy at night.”

Dave Abel was given the mountain man name “Ghost Wolf” by his friends.

“I used to just disappear,” he said. “I’d be here one minute and gone the next.”

Participant Bonny Dolly came to the Rendezvous from Battleground and has been involved in the movement for many years. She said she used to live on an Indian reservation in New York and feels at home on the campsite.

“The Rendezvous is about the people and the history,” Dolly said. “We like to reenact history and teach it to others so it doesn’t die with us.”

Like Dolly, Kathy Brewer of Enumclaw is no stranger to mountain life. She’s been traveling to Rendezvous events for about eight years. This weekend she’s selling handmade crafts, feathers and jewelry.

“I love to create,” Brewer said. “I try to make things as natural as possible.”

Brewer enjoys rendezvous because they bring many of her favorite things together.

“It’s dress up, camping and good people all rolled into one,” she said.

Travel back in time:

Saturday, Aug. 21: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 22: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Location: Central Whidbey Sportsman’s Association’s clubhouse and shooting range off Safari Lane, about 2.5 miles south of Coupeville.

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