Forum Index > Pacific NW History > Vintage video of Herb Crisler in the Olympic Mountains
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Ancient Ambler
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PostSat Jun 08, 2013 11:50 am 
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Being precluded from hiking for the last few months by persistent plantar fasciitis, I've had a bit more time when I'm not working to devote to my interest in the history of the Olympic Mountains, and Herb Crisler in particular. 

Briefly, Herb Crisler is best known for filming the footage that Disney bought and turned into The Olympic Elk  , which was part of Disney's True Life Adventure series that came out in the 1950s.  Herb began roaming the Olympics in 1919, and for most of the 1940s, he and his wife lived at Humes Ranch on the Elwha and spent their summers in the Olympic high country, where they had a series of shelters ranging from Cat Creek Basin all the way down to the Skyline Trail.  Herb and another filmmaker, Don McQuade, made what may have been the first color movie of Olympic National Park in the 1930s and remained friends thereafter.  In 1973, McQuade talked Herb, who was 80 at the time, into doing a 30 day traverse of the high Olympics, revisiting all of his old high-country camps.  McQuade brought along a camera crew and made a movie of the trip, which was interspersed with footage he and Crisler had taken in earlier years, as well as contemporaneous interviews (in 1973) of Crisler's recollections.

I had heard about the 1973 Crisler-McQuade expedition before.  Ruby El Hult, author of books on the Crislers, had a photo album of pix taken on that trip.  This web site has copies of the photos:

http://www.waltjames.freeservers.com/Crislers/Crisler-McQuade.htm

A National Geographic photographer was along on the 1973 trip, and a photo of Crisler on the 1973 trip appeared in the February 1974 National Geographic:

http://www.waltjames.freeservers.com/Crislers/Crisler-NatGeographic.htm

I decided to try to find whatever might be left of the McQuade footage of this 1973 trip.   I found reference in the November 17, 1977 Peninsula Daily News to McQuade having shown the 2-hour movie for the first time on November 1, 1977 at the Seattle Opera House.  His hope was to show it that December in Port Angeles.  He also hoped to be able to sell his movie to television.  I found no later references to the movie.

I figured it would not hurt to check at the Olympic National Park Archives and eventually ended up talking and corresponding with Curator Gay Hunter, who is just plain exemplary and makes me glad to be paying taxes in support of the National Park Service.    As it turns out, ONP was given a lot of 16 mm McQuade footage, which began deteriorating and was converted years ago into VHS format.  Ms. Hunter was in the process of saving this historical material by converting the unstable VHS material to more stable DVD and was able to provide me with a copy of some of the McQuade footage in DVD format.  She also gave me permission to upload the footage to youtube so that this publicly owned material can be more easily enjoyed by the public.

Included in what I was provided is a bit more than 18 minutes of what McQuade calls a "sample reel."  It appears intended to promote his longer 2 hour movie.  It is narrated by McQuade and includes a number of interviews of Herb Crisler, as well as footage from the 1973 trip, footage that Crisler filmed in the 1940s at the Hurricane Hill lookout in winter where he and Lois served as airplane spotters in the war effort, and footage from the 1940s at Humes Ranch.  There's 1938 footage from Crisler's Hotcake Camp in Cat Basin as it was still under construction.  Pretty amazing stuff.  I've uploaded this 18 + minute "sample reel" to youtube with permission of Gay Hunter, which we thought would be a good way for the public to access it   Took a while to figure out how to convert and upload this to youtube, but here it is:



Ms. Hunter advises that there is more McQuade footage in VHS, so it may be that there will more video with better color or footage covering more of Crisler's camps yet to come.  Time will tell.  I just want to express my appreciation to Olympic National Park and to Curator Gay Hunter for preserving this historical material and making it available to the public. (edited to correct to 1919 the year Crisler began roaming the Olympics)
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IanB
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PostSat Jun 08, 2013 12:33 pm 
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Excellent legwork Greg - can't wait to check out the footage!

Really, really hope that your "footage" situation is improving?

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"Forget gaining a little knowledge about a lot and strive to learn a lot about a little."    - Harvey Manning
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Random Walker
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PostSat Jun 08, 2013 12:58 pm 
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Many Thanks Ambler...

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The smell, you know that deet smell, the whole mountain.
Smelled like... victory.
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contour5
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PostSat Jun 08, 2013 1:10 pm 
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Wow! Thanks for sharing that, AA. I hope the rest becomes available.

There's a couple of Exploration Northwest videos; Backpacking the Olympics parts 1 & 2. with the Crislers...
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Phil
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PostSun Jun 09, 2013 11:32 am 
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Thank you for this work!
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Get Out and Go
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PostMon Jun 10, 2013 8:10 pm 
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Turns out it was a celebrity sighting!  I actually ran into Crisler and the National Geographic crew on the way up to Appleton Pass during August of 73.  He was taking a breather in the shade on one of the switchbacks in that red flannel shirt.   I was home on leave and hiking from the Elwha to Seven Lakes Basin and out. We exchanged greetings, but ironic that I didn't stop to chat more, as I later found out he was an acquaintance of my great-grandfather.  What I do remember is that the crew was armed the with the hot new camera, the Olympus OM-1.  Somewhere, I still hold on the copy of the magazine that came out with the article and pictures.   smile.gif

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Tvashtar
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PostTue Jun 11, 2013 8:13 am 
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Set that broken arm and keep fishin'!

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"We are, all of us, in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." - Oscar Wilde
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IanB
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PostTue Jun 11, 2013 10:14 am 
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Just watched the whole thing - Very cool!

Thanks again Greg.   up.gif

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"Forget gaining a little knowledge about a lot and strive to learn a lot about a little."    - Harvey Manning
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Ancient Ambler
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PostTue Jun 11, 2013 12:33 pm 
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I'm glad to see folks are enjoying the old movies by McQuade and Crisler.

Thanks to contour5 for mentioning the 1975 Don McCune Exploration Northwest show on the Bailey Range traverse.  I wasn't aware that the Crislers were on that film.  I may have to get that one.  If they were both on it, the film would have to have been shot much earlier than 1975, as Lois died in 1971 and they were divorced years before that.

Ian:  my "footage" is slowly improving, and I hope I'll be able to get back on the trail within a month to start ramping up for a trip in September.

Get Out and Go:  How cool to run into Crisler and the crew on Appleton Pass so many years ago.  There's a nice shot in McQuade's "sample reel" of the party laboring up to Appleton Pass with Mount Appleton in the background.

Tvashtar:  Ruby El Hult recounts the story behind the broken arm shots in McQuade's "sample reel" in Herb Crisler in the Olympic Mountain Wilds.  Herb took off from Hotcake Camp alone, carrying his movie camera and supplies in his pack and intending to cross the Bailey Range and on to Three Prune on the Skyline, where he would drop down to the North Fork Quinault.  On the same morning he left Hotcake Camp, he fell from a cliff above Cat Creek and broke his arm and dislocated his ankle.  He used rope from his pack to tie to his ankle, threw free rope over a tree limb, grabbed the free end and pulled it taut, and then threw his full body weight onto the rope to snap his ankle back into place.  Keeping his boot in place to contain the swelling, he next splinted his arm and rigged the hook shown in the movie.  He then debated on whether to return to Olympic Hot Springs and civilization or to carry on with his Bailey Range traverse.  He elected to carry on, crossing the Bailey Range and exiting from the Skyline at Three Prune down to the North Fork Quinault.
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Tvashtar
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PostTue Jun 11, 2013 12:46 pm 
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Truly some Jeremiah Johnson action there, boyo.  OLD SCHOOL.

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gb
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gb
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PostTue Jun 11, 2013 4:42 pm 
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Thanks for sharing that. Imagine doing the Bailey plus a finish to and through the Skyline route at the age of 80. Wow!
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RumiDude
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PostWed Jun 12, 2013 9:09 am 
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Yes, good stuff

AA. ask HoosierDaddy to borrow his copies of that Don McCune Exploration Northwest show.  I think it is the same as contour5 is talking about, but not sure.  I don't recall the Crislers in them.  Jimmy James was in them.

Rumi

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Critter
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PostSun Jun 16, 2013 10:49 pm 
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I loved the Herb Crisler video.

I like the old cabin with the skunks under it @ 5:10

Hot Cakes camp was awesome.  I like that he packed up an 80 lb iron stove top up there @ 12:52.

The glacier crossing with no ice gear was neat too. 16:41

It said there were herds of elk that were 200-300 strong but don't current and smaller herds get thinned when the herds get "too big"?

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RodF
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PostMon Jun 17, 2013 11:57 am 
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Critter wrote:
It said there were herds of elk that were 200-300 strong but don't current and smaller herds get thinned when the herds get "too big"?

No, there's no thinning or culling of elk within Olympic NP.  The elk herds along most the Crisler traverse route probably never migrate outside the Park boundaries, so aren't subject to hunting by people, just by cougar.

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Critter
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PostThu Jun 20, 2013 11:48 pm 
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RodF wrote:
The elk herds along most the Crisler traverse route probably never migrate outside the Park boundaries, so aren't subject to hunting by people, just by cougar.

Are the herds still that big?

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