LOLO PASS — Sid Stoffels of Auburn, Calif., is 60 years old, but he acts like a man less than half his age.
On Thursday, he was Pvt. Robert Fraser, one of the lesser-known members of the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Stoffels stepped spryly up a steep ridge just inside Montana on the Lolo Trail and brought up a good point: "If we're coming from Lolo Pass, shouldn't we be going down?"
There was plenty of time to ponder such mysteries as re-enactors from Stoffels' Discovery Expedition of St. Charles joined forces with seven men and one Sacagawea (Jennifer Wallace) from the local Travelers' Rest Brigade to re-create history.
Their 4½-hour trek from the Lolo Pass Visitors Center to Lolo Hot Springs was 200 years to the day — maybe to the hour — after Lewis and Clark made the return trip from the Pacific.
Seventeen re-enactors rode horses provided by Dan Ekstrom of Rock Creek. Nine others, including Stoffels, walked the 8-mile stretch that went uphill, quite severely, twice.
At the figurative head were Bryant Boswell of Mississippi, who carried the spontoon of Capt. Meriwether Lewis, and Bud Clark of Michigan, playing the part of his great-great-great-grandfather, Capt. William Clark.
"This is the ultimate big-boy adventure," said Clark, who walked the final half of the route despite a broken big toe suffered a week ago.
"We haven't experienced all the hardships of the trial that Lewis and Clark did, but we get a taste of it. And we certainly get a firsthand Lewis and Clark experience in terms of camaraderie and teamwork."
The 19 men from the St. Charles group are camped with another dozen or so at Travelers' Rest State Park near Lolo for the next few days as the park hosts its second significant Lewis and Clark event in 10 months.
Thursday's ride was a kickoff to that, and a handoff at the top of the pass from Idaho to Montana, from Pacific time to Mountain time, and from the Clearwater National Forest to the Lolo National Forest.
The St. Charles marchers, all dressed in period garb, ranged in age from 19-year-old Josh Loftis of St. Louis (Pvt. George Shannon) to 67-year-old Neal Corey of McCook, Neb. (Pvt. Hugh McNeal).