Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Fire — The New Norm?

posted: August 24th, 2016 | by:Bert

JewelBasinSmoke-15

Jewel Basin hiking area August 22, 2016, about 9 A.M.

©Bert Gildart: On Monday morning about 9 a.m.,  August 22, 2016, this is the way the Jewel Basin Hiking area appeared from the porch of our house.

Smoke from a substantial fire in the Hamilton, Montana, area (about 100 miles to the south) had crept into the Flathead, muting the sun and obscuring Jewel Basin. At times like this conditions afford unusual photographic opportunities that can create stunning images.

On the flip side, my eyes are watering and my sinuses are partially blocked.

Scientists tell us global warning has increased the frequency of fires and the conditions you see here may become the new norm.  Oh my aching sinuses.

Of course the Jewel Basin Hiking Area doesn’t always look this way, though smoke muting the sun does presage future conditions.  But frequency could be reduced, offering a future more like what we saw last week while on a family hike to Mount Aeneas, one of the highest mountains in the Swan Range.

From our house the distance is  only about 10 miles to the Forest Service parking lot, known as Camp Misery, but that required about a 45 minutes because the last stretch of the drive is over a bumpy logging road. However, views along the way are spectacular.

HIKER’S PARADISE

The “Jewel” straddles the Swan Range within sight of Flathead Lake to the south, Hungry Horse Reservoir to the east and Glacier to the north.  It’s a hiker’s and backpacker’s dream and has more than fulfilled the promise which the Forest Service envisioned. The challenge, of course, is to maintain conditions so the area’s beauty and history prevail.

The area is characterized by glacier-carved peaks and cirques, which surround valleys dotted with 37 alpine lakes.  Fifty miles of hiking trails connect most of the lakes, and aside from getting from the valley floor to the basin rim, most of the hiking is not too strenuous. Several years ago Janie and I produced a guide to the Flathead and Glacier and we devoted a section to exploring hiking trails in this area.

From our guide book about Glacier and the Flathead Valley, the highest peak, Mount Aeneas, was named for an Iroquois Indian.  His name was Big Knife and he arrived in the Flathead valley sometime in the 1870’s and was adopted by the Kootenai people.  Somewhere along the way, his name was changed to Aeneas, a name borrowed from the Greek and Romans, meaning “Man Without a Country.”


FamilyPolga-9 FamilyPolga-8 FamilyPolga-10

 

L to R:  Family members Alun Polga and his son Griff test a flank that leads to Mount Aeneas;
Polga family pause at saddle en route to Aeneas; pausing at saddle where we recalled
famous John Muir quote:  Climb The Mountains and Get Their Good Tidings.


NATIVE USAGE: Also included in our book are quotes from one of the area’s noted hikers, who is a good friend.   Elaine Synder is a volunteer hike leader with the Montana Wilderness Association and she says that from the top of Aeneas you can see in all directions.  She says that your sweep includes vistas of early Indian settlements, some of which are thousands of years old.  “There are places,” says Synder, “that were used in the last century by Native Americans who camped, hunted, and gathered in the valley.” She says  there is evidence that the peak itself was an important perspective point for early day hunters, just as it often has been for us.


JewelBasin

Jewel Basin Hiking area, back dropped by the tan colored massive mountain, known as Great Northern positioned in this photo along horizon, far left. Many years ago, when my son David was 15, we climbed the peak.

 

On the day family members and I climbed and explored the Jewel Basin Hiking area the skies were perfectly clear.  In fact, though we were  surrounded by areas where fires were raging, the Flathead remained smoke free until two days ago.  Lighting, however, has torched off the vast forests in the Flathead Valley, now parched from weeks of hot temperatures and a lack of rain.  Not surprisingly, such conditions have produced forest fires — and now, of course,  smoke.

For those of us who believe the predictions of world scientists, I guess we’re getting a hint of what the future might bode.  Sad, because some of the deleterious aspects of our compromised environment  could have been forestalled.


——–

THIS TIME IN OCTOBER OF 2006

Graveyard Stroll in Nova Scotia


4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy




Read Comments | Post a Comment »

Facebook Crossovers

posted: August 4th, 2016 | by:Bert

Biking-5

One of my loop routes, a 26 mile road along the base of the Swan Mountains,

©Bert Gildart: Because of the social nature of FACEBOOK, I generate many more quick responses and “Likes” using that form of social media then I do by posting blogs.

As a result, I sometimes overlook the people who say, “Sorry, we want to know what you’re doing, but we don’t want to deal with another  program.   As an attempt to share I’m going to start summarizing some of my Facebook postings on my blog.  By so doing, I hope to make my blog postings more than just a hit or miss project.

As a result you’ll see two postings here, one on biking, the other about photography and magazine submissions.

———

YESTERDAY I BIKED  26.4 MILES along a series of secondary roads that departed from our drive. Locals will recognize the route as consisting of Riverside Road, Fishhatchery Road, Foothills Road and finally, LaBrant. For the most part it is an agrarian setting and signs along the way told of the price of a dozen fresh farm eggs ($2.75); of dirt roads to Jewel Basin Hiking area; and, naturally — in this area — of how best to prepare for life in the hereafter.

As I ride I monitor activities with a top-of-the-line Garmin, which was a birthday gift from my lovely wife. Information is thorough and includes standard data such as rate of travel, average speed and both heart and cadence rate. When home all this information can be downloaded onto my cell phone or onto my computer. I can also examine my route in the form of a map.

For any interesting in the map, and the information just mentioned, here’s a link.  Generally I find it takes about 20 seconds for the data to load.

I find the program helpful as I chart attempts to improve overall conditioning — and later, to look back on a very interesting bike adventure.


https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1271194635


—————————–


AND NOW MY ENTRY ON THE SUBMISSION OF IMAGES FOR AIRSTREAM LIFE: Just completed a story for Airstream Life magazine, a periodical that appeals to a travel-oriented audience. Most readers are highly adventurous and many are interested in nature photography. Obviously most tow an Airstream.

The magazine is “slick” meaning my images are reproduced with great fidelity

The magazine started about 12 years ago and I’ve sold to every issue since its inception. Images accompany my stories and are sometimes related to the season, in this case to fall travel here in the West. Over the years I’ve covered areas from all of the Canadian provinces and from areas embraced by all four corners of the U.S. Generally our trips are also made for other magazines as well.

Moose Moose2 PhotographerBert2

Note the belligerence in the eye of the moose, now in rut and potentially a very dangerous and aggressive animal.  Not so the cow moose, simply interested in plucking vegetation from the bottom of this pond.  Photo by Bill Mullins, one of the nation’s top nature photographers.


To facilitate layout I try and give editors at the magazine a wide selection – far more than what they’ll use. In this case I’m sending about 40 images, realizing the final cut will total about 10. Here are a few samples from which they’ll be selecting. Certainly, I have no objection if they select the one Bill Mullins took of me out on Montana’s Wildhorse Islands.


GB 52165 CranesFlight2


Mullins is a top photographer and a good friend. He’s from Idaho and I was delighted to have seen him several weeks ago at the annual convention of the Outdoor Writer Association of America, which this year was held in Billings, Montana.


————————————-

 

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

Dark Skies

4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy





Read Comments | Post a Comment »

Tragic Results After Biker Collides with Bear

posted: July 5th, 2016 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: On June 29 two men riding mountain bikes just south of West Glacier, Montana, rounded a bend and surprised what officials now believe was a grizzly bear.  To make matters worse, Brad Treat, actually collided with the bear, and the alarmed bruin knocked Treat from his bike and then attacked. According to one report, Treat was going so fast he couldn’t stop. Tragically, the bear killed the 38-year-old man who was employed as a law enforcement officer by the Flathead National Forest. Treat was a former Glacier Park ranger. The other man, escaped attack and scurried for help.


GNP7038 GNP7026


L to R:  Search for the bear that mauled Treat has not been successful, and officials have called off the search. 
Glacier has about 500 grizzly bears and though we probably hike by many, we generally don’t know they’re watching us.


Immediately after the mauling, authorities initiated a search for the bear, but, now, after a week, the search has ended. Again, cautionary bear statements abound and some are recalling that the event had been predicted, most notably by Dr. Stephen Herrero, a professor at the University of Alberta. Herrero, who is recognized as one of the world’s most renowned bear experts cautioned years ago that mountain bikes could be dangerous.

BIKES CAN BE DANGEROUS

“Mountain bikes,” said Dr. Herrero, “are potentially very dangerous. They approach quietly and fast, and bears don’t like surprises.” Herrero, who is also a mountain bike rider, emphasized that riders should carry bear spray and make noise.”

Bear6 41189G-Bear StupidPhotographers


L to R:  Invariably, the old cliche holds:  A fed bear is a dead bear.  If a grizzly bear exhibits signs of aggression, back away slowly. 
These photographers intentionally intercepted the chosen route of this grizzly, forcing it onto the trail to Iceberg Lake in Glacier.  The situation could have become dangerous.


That message strikes home and in the future I’ll do just that. When rounding a bend I’ll shout. As well, I’ll focus more on the trail rather than on the beauty which generally surrounds me. And I’ll slow down, realizing now that I might collide with a family as well as a bear. Yes, in the past I’ve been guilty.

FATAL MAULINGS DATE TO 1967

I’m not certain whether Treat’s death will be included in the tally of Glacier Park bear maulings, but to date the park says there have been 10 fatal maulings within its boundaries. The first of these occurred in 1967 when two different bears killed two people in different parts of the park in the course of a single night. Those attacks became the subject of a 1969 book by Jack Olsen titled “Night of the Grizzlies,” and later a documentary by the same name. Those attacks can be linked directly to garbage, as I emphasized in a story I later wrote for Smithsonian magazine.

In addition, I have written many other bear stories and am providing links to postings about bear behavior — and about some of the tragedies.

(Note: all these bear images were made with an 800mm lens. I don’t search for bears, but am prepared to photograph bears using a tripod-mounted camera setup.)


———————-

More  Bear Postings:

Night of the Grizzlies

Bears Now Ready to Hibernate

Is It a Black Bear or a Grizzly Bear?


4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy




Read Comments | Post a Comment »

NRA Aggression

posted: June 27th, 2016 | by:Bert

.22 calibre pistol which we recently purchased to serve as a form of psychologial comfort.

.22 calibre pistol which we recently purchased to serve as a form of psychologial comfort.

©Bert Gildart: Two weeks ago I traded in a very sophisticated semi-automatic pistol for the simple-to-operate revolver shown here.  Since making the purchase I’ve received two telephone calls — as revealed by my caller I.D. —  to be from the NRA.  Unfortunately, I was slow in climbing our stairs and was not able to answer before the contact was broken, but this may have been for the best.  Now, should they call again, I’ll not be caught off guard.  Read on if you want to learn how I might respond.

For years I was a member of the NRA but denounced membership back in 2003.  At the time, I was in Spokane, Washington, attending a convention of the Outdoor Writer’s Association of America, which is supported by many national organizations such as the NRA, the Sierra Club – and by virtually all the major producers of outdoor products. Unfortunately, a spokesman for the NRA had a major disagreement with the Sierra Club, which at the time was attempting to persuade members that habitat had to been considered as a major factor in setting hunting guidelines.  The NRA disagreed and in so many words, representative Kayne Robinson said at the organization’s sponsored luncheon that it was their way or the highway.  Shortly thereafter I dropped my membership.

That was 12 years ago, and perhaps the NRA has changed its mind on habitat management, but new issues have materialized to include the issues of assault weapons, gun registration and the No Fly/No Buy suggestion regulation.  So… if the NRA calls again, I do know what I’ll tell them.

I’ll tell them that I remain a gun enthusiasts, but that my three hunting rifles are bolt action guns and that each holds half-a-dozen bullets or so.  Each time I fire, I must yank the bolt back and then, to chamber a bullet, I must slide the bolt forward.  I can only do that about a six times before reloading, and each time I slide the bolt backward and forward I have to take my eye off the target.  Not true, however, of the AR-15 semiautomatic assault weapon, which can accept magazines holding up to 100 bullets.  But that disparity is not a problem for me, as my target is deer and elk, not people in a night club or children in a school.

As stated at the outset of this opinion piece I recently purchased the .22 magnum caliber pistol for the very rare occasion when Janie and I feel threatened.  More than anything it provides psychological security, and our first line of defense would be bear spray — and I have had to use it while riding my bike, confronting dogs, so know it works.


Guns-BearSpray-2 Bear-spray-works BearSpray5-199x300

 

L to R:  Bear spray as mounted on my bicycle; Bill Hutchison demonstrates use of bear spray, our first line of defense for unpleasant situations.


Purchasing the pistol took about 15 minutes, and if it had been necessary to wait a day or two for a background check to determine whether I was mentally competent to own a gun, or to insure I was not on a No-Fly/No Buy list (hopefully to be implemented), that would not have bothered me.  Certainly these “inconveniences” will save at least one life, and if it does then it’s worth it to me.  I don’t believe my 2nd amendment right are being compromised.  Several countries such as Britain and Australia have limited private ownership of assault weapons and time has shown that in some countries, some restrictions work.

And, so, that’s what I’ll tell the NRA should they call, and if they do, I hope I won’t slam the door shut on future deliberations – as did the NRA spokesman.  However, it will take a lot to get me to re-up membership status.


———————


Associated Blog:

Knife River … And Keep Guns Out of National Parks


4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy





Read Comments | 2 Comments »

Biking To Logan Pass

posted: June 7th, 2016 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  There could not have been a more perfect day for my daughter and son-in-law to make the 32-mile round-trip bike ride from the parking lot at Avalanche Campground to Logan Pass, an elevation gain of over 3,000 feet. At this time of year, the road is open for bicycle riders and emergency vehicles only.

Though it was cool when we departed we quickly shed our windbreakers, then progressed along McDonald Creek. Almost immediately the Going-to-the-Sun Road began to climb, passing first through a tunnel, then to the West Side Loop where we took a few photos back dropped by majestic Heaven’s Peak, which I once climbed.


2016 06 06_2524 Tunnel GNP-Bike-1


L to R:  Departing from near Avalanche Campground the Going-to-the-Sun Road soon begins to climb; tunnel just above
Packer’s Roost and just below West Side Loop; West Side Loop back dropped by Heaven’s Peak.


From the Loop our ride passed dozens of water falls and the climb was demanding. We stopped at Bird Woman Overlook where we had lunch, then rested, we continued our ascent to Weeping Falls, which at this time of year was absolutely gushing with snowmelt. From there the grade only seemed to increase, and unfortunately both Angie and Will were experiencing great pain on their “undercarriages.”  To reduce further injury both decided it would be prudent to turn around, agreeing that we’d reunite at the West Side Loop; unfortunate as they were so near the top.  But anyone who has ridden the thin saddles associated with road bikes knows that it takes months of steady riding to generate the proper “callouses.”

Meanwhile, I continued the climb to Logan Pass.


GNP-Bike-13

Weeping Wall, and early June is perhaps the ideal time to bike past this rush of snow melt.

 

An hour later I rode into the snow-cleared parking lot at Logan Pass. Leaning my bike against a towering snow bank I spent an hour or more photographing the incredible fields of snow still remaining. The Logan Pass Visitor Center was literally covered with snow and was certainly not yet ready to greet the summer hordes.

Though it took me several hours to ascend to Logan Pass, from there it was all downhill, which I enjoyed — coasting along at about 30 mph. That seemed like a sane speed, but apparently not everyone agreed. On the way up we’d almost collided with some downhill riders who must have been cruising at dangerous speeds, perhaps 45mph.

AND THAT MAY ACCOUNT FOR THE DAY’S SAD EXPERIENCE.

As Will and Angie approached the West Side Loop they encountered a small group gathered around a lady who had either crashed or been hit by as an out-of-control rider. Blood covered the road where she was laying and she was immobile.


GNP-Bike-2 GNP-Bike-6 GNP-Bike-7


L to R:  Angie AND  Will break for lunch back dropped by Bird Woman Falls. 
Logan Pass Visitor Center engulfed by snow, and certainly not ready for hordes of visitors that will soon
so completely inundate the area
that parking will be impossible for any who don’t arrive at the crack of dawn.


Park ranger responded quickly. An emergency helicopter soon flew in and took her to the hospital. We have no idea what the outcome might have been.

Certainly that was a very unfortunate incident, but other than that our day was glorious, and we later agreed that this is the best way to experience the park. By July, hordes of visitors have massed, and when that happens, numbers are so many that in recent years there has been no parking at Logan Pass.


———————————-


THIS TIME THREE  YEARS AGO:

Biking Going-to-the-Sun


4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy




Read Comments | Post a Comment »

Memorial Day — On a Personal Note

posted: May 29th, 2016 | by:Bert

Korean War Memorial

Korean War Memorial

©Bert Gildart: MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND and Arlington National Cemetery is much on my mind as we honor our war heroes. I think about Washington D.C. and  Arlington because it is where several of my relatives are now buried.

Such memories become more significant as I get a little older and history takes on a new meaning; hence three years ago I attempted to locate (again) the grave of a family member buried in Arlington. At the time I was on a business trip, intending to learn more about our nation’s Capital Parks, and Arlington was one of them.

NIGHT CREATES AURA OF ETERNAL VIGILANCE

The newest of the memorials is the World War II Memorial, which honors the 16 million who served in the armed forces of the U.S., and the 400,000-plus who died in that war. It is the only 20th Century event commemorated on the “central axis” of the National Mall, and President Clinton dedicated the memorial site on Veterans Day 1995.

Night is a particularly good time to visit the WW II Memorial, for night lights and refracting ponds create an aura of eternal vigilance. Take a tripod if you want night photos, but you’ll need more if you want to walk within range of the Capitol building.

Because heightened security since 9/11 looks askance at long pointed objects, you’ll need a special permit, but if you ask a park policeman he or she will tell you how and where to obtain one.

 

Arlington must be visited during the day and finding my grandfather’s grave amidst the 290,000 servicemen (7,000 new graves each year) could have been a daunting task had it not been for the easily accessible computerized records. To locate a relative, all that’s required is a stop at the desk immediately to your right as you enter the Visitor Center. Then, they’ll want a little information.

FINDING A RELATIVE AT ARLINGTON

They’ll want to know your relative’s legal name and his or her date of death. Such information also entitles you to a special pass with a “numbered” address that will allow you to drive to your relative’s grave.


13570 13547 13551


Many of our Capitol Parks are dedicated to the memory our military heroes.

Though my grandfather’s site was more than a mile away I chose to walk, passing as I did by the grave of John F. Kennedy with its massive memorial and its eternal flame. I passed, too, the grave of Audie Murphy, our most decorated WWII soldier, and a man who later became a movie icon of the ‘50s and ‘60s.

I stopped by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where the changing of the guard was in progress. The precision of their moves spoke of strength, coordination and infinite practice.

Two hours later, I arrived at my grandfather’s grave, who died in France shortly after Germany surrendered. He had survived the war only to die in 1919 from the pandemic flu, leaving behind two sons, age four and one. Though they were young, his death so impacted them that both chose military careers. In turn their lives affected me, and though I never followed my dad’s path, I remain in tune with much that is military.


Dad400

Dad approaching his 90th year wheeled himself to Trophy Point, West Point.  Both Janie’s parents and
my parents are buried at West Point.
A small portion of the library at the academy was dedicated to my father.

You and I may or may not agree with the policies of our administration, but that has little to do with the appreciation we should demonstrate for the sacrifices our brave soldiers made in the past and are making today. On a personal note, my father was at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed and he later fought at Guadalcanal. Little wonder, I suppose, Military Parks hold such fascination for me, and little wonder I suppose that I respect all Memorial Day has come to represent. My father and mother are buried at West Point, and so are Janie’s.

Today, if I were in D.C., I’d make another pilgrimage to Arlington Cemetery and lay flowers on my grandfather’s grave. But since I’m not, Janie and I will do as we do most Memorial Days: we’ll post a small flag and allow it to remind us of the 2,757,196 men and woman who have given their lives for America.


NOTE:  BEFORE CLOSING here are a few other links that pay homage to our veterans:  Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Memorial Day.


—————————-

 

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

Shenandoah’s Deer & Bears

 

4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy




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The Parasitic Cowbird

posted: May 27th, 2016 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Though not as beautiful as are many of the other species now attracted by our feeders, nevertheless, the bland-appearing cowbird is a species of great fascination, essentially because of a habit it developed from a long ago association with a most formidable  mammal.

BUT FIRST THE HABIT:

Cowbirds do not build nests, rather they parasitize the nests of others, and prolonged studies reveal cowbirds will lay eggs in the nests of at least 220 unsuspecting species. Further studies show that over 140 species of surrogate “parents” have raised young cowbirds.

So how did cowbirds pull off a trick like this? They accomplished the feat long ago learning from an association with the countless number of bison that pounded across the prairie. In those long ago times bison made annual peregrinations across the Great Plains of North America, and those herds numbered in the millions. As they migrated they stirred up insects and these bugs became an easy food source for any species that chanced to be in the area.


Cowbird-20

Parasitic cowbird, whose habits
acquired from association with herds of bison


COWBIRDS MOVED WITH THE BISON

Cowbirds were present,  but a problem existed for bison didn’t stay long in the same area. Rather, they moved, and when they did move, cowbirds lost access to their easy food source. The solution? To eat, cowbirds had to move with the bison but that meant they couldn’t build nests. Further, that meant that any eggs they did lay would be abandoned.

The solution was to parasitize the nests of other birds, leaving incubation and the feeding of young to all the hawks, finches, robins, warblers, and crossbills — birds who relied on other foods. Certainly not all these other species adopted the mottled eggs that cowbirds laid, but most were oblivious, meaning that populations of cowbirds thrived.

Today, cowbirds still eat easy-to-gather insects because cattle stir the bugs just like bison did a century ago. And, so, today, even though the vast herds have been killed off, cowbirds continued with the parasitic trait they learned so many years ago.



12873 BisonMigrate BisonSkull


Bison, insects and cowbirds all go together.  Once millions of  bison
stampeded across the prairies, and thankfully,
we still have a few remnant herds.  Bison skull, Badlands, N. Dakota is symbolic of vanquished herds.


BISON & BIRD:

Fascinating, and I thought the information so exciting that I wanted to pass it on. Of course, I would not have been able to offer this information if a cowbird had not landed on my feeder, prompting me to grab for my field guide and confirm identification. But then I noticed that the guide offered an extensive discussion about the relationship with bison and bird, which I believed interesting.

Hope you do too.


————————-

 

THIS TIME NINE YEARS AGO:

Learning to Roll a Kayak

 

4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy




 

Cowbirds were there, but there was a problem, for bison didn’t stay long in the same area. Rather, they moved, and when they did move, cowbirds lost access to their easy food source. The solution? To eat, cowbirds had to move with the bison but that meant they couldn’t build nests. Further, that meant that any eggs they did lay would be abandoned. They solution was to parasitize the nests of other birds, leaving incubation and the feeding of young to all the hawks, finches, robins, warblers, and crossbills, birds who relied on other foods. Certainly not all these other species adopted the mottled eggs cowbirds laid, but most were oblivious, meaning that populations of cowbirds thrived. Today, cowbirds still eat easy-to-gather insects because cattle stir the bugs just like bison did a century ago. And, so, today, even though the vast herds have been killed off, cowbirds continued with the parasitic trait they learned so many years ago.

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Egypt On My Mind

posted: May 20th, 2016 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Recently I’ve been downsizing images currently in my stock photo files. It’s an emotional and challenging task as so many of these photographs have been published.

Others images simply remind me of personal histories. For instance, 30 years ago I was working monthly for Travel Holiday Magazine, which provided me with wonderful assignments that included a month in Egypt. (Every night while on the Nile, I had a bottle of Queen Nefertiti wine in my stateroom.) Editors at the magazine used these and other photographs from my submission to them.


Egypt5-2

As the man rode his donkey and towed his camel, he shouted out, “I’m John Wayne, 
I’m John Wayne.”  Then he asked for Baksheesh… baksheesh.


So, now, which images should I save? More to the point, do any of these images have any future commercial value — perhaps for some family or extended family member who might one day decide to major in journalism or in photo journalism? Vanity gets in the way here, coercing me to ignore what may be reality, but that’s OK, as hopefully ultimate disposition is at some distant date.

In the meantime, here are some images that recall such wonderful memories that I cannot include them in my discard pile.

Egypt5-3 Egypt5-5 Egypt5-1


L to R:  The man had stationed himself for early morning visitors, such as me; struggling Egyptian village; young children
have already learned the lingo and ran out to greet me, then asked for Baksheesh… baksheesh


TRAVEL COORDINATORS  CAUTIONED:

In the 1980s, officials cautioned that it was dangerous to embark on solo journeys.  But I was lots younger then, and perhaps a bit too self-assured, so I ventured out – and am glad I did, for I managed to capture the Pyramids of Giza at dawn. I managed to dramatize the setting with a camel rider just waiting for someone like me, and I knew what to expect. “Baksheesh… baksheesh (tip),” he smiled, holding out his hand.

Shortly thereafter another rider materialized. He had a long stick and he was “firing” it, saying “I’m John Wayne.” I tipped him, too.


Egypt5-4 Egypt5-6 BazaarCairo


L to R:  Hiking five miles between Valley of Kings and Valley of Queens; Napoleon shot
the nose off the Sphinx; day in a Bazaar at Luxor.


I also tipped others. For instance, I was advised not to hike the five miles across the desert between the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens (burial site of Queen Nefertiti), for “it could be dangerous.” But I hiked the desert there anyway and met a delightful young man who later served me tea from his village home. There, in the small village I met young children living on the edge of poverty who had learned how to pose, and, of course, they too, had learned the lingo: “Baksheesh…baksheesh.” I didn’t mind the request and responded with the tip amount travel coordinators had suggested.

Because these images recall such wonderful memories, I’ll certainly keep these and a few dozen others. (Hundreds are now staring at me from a trash pile.) But I’m starting to realize that I’ll never scan all those other in-camera dupes and that I do need to downsize. It’s painful, but eventually it will have to be done. And it might as well be done now. Right??


————

 

 

This Time Last  Year:



A Few of Our Books:

4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy




Read Comments | Post a Comment »

Osprey Return to Flathead

posted: May 17th, 2016 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Montana’s Flathead Valley has a huge population of osprey, and right now they are in the process of building nests. Mostly we see them on the top of telephone poles, but every now and then friends tell me of a nest they’ve found. Generally, they’ve discovered a pair nesting in a tree somewhere along Flathead Lake, which was the case with this one shown here.


Osprey5-1


Last year biologists counted 21 osprey nests, but discovered that only 18 were active.  Observations with spotting scopes further revealed there were a total of 33 nestlings, 29 of which successfully fledged.

Usually osprey will remain in the Flathead through late September or early October, at which time they return to wintering areas, which include southern Texas and Mexico.  Osprey are a magnificent species and we’re delighted so many have selected the Flathead as their summer home.


——-


Four Years Ago:  A Most Pleasant Day With Rattlesnakes


4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy







Read Comments | Post a Comment »

Honorary Doctorate Awarded Resident of Remote Alaskan Village:

posted: May 10th, 2016 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: This past Sunday (May 3, 2016), Trimble Gilbert of Arctic Village, Alaska, was presented an honorary Doctor Degree in Law for helping to advance the people of his village and for his efforts in helping to preserve the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

As well Trimble has served in his village as an Episcopal minister and a traditional chief. Not so incidentally he is one of the very best fiddle players in the entire Arctic region. Janie and I both feel privileged to know this man, and were once honored by Reverend Gilbert when he led his congregation in prayer intended to ensure our safe travels during a month-long hike through the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.


Trimble-1 Trimble-2 TrimbleMary-1


L to R:  Trimble Gilbert has worn many hat during his life in Arctic Village, to include Episcopal minister and traditional chief; David Salmon presents
Trimble Gilbert with eagle feather and a Gwich’in Indian name to replace Anglo Saxon one; Trimble and Mary Gilbert in Arctic Village cabin.


Monday, April 9, the Fairbanks News Miner published an article which Gilbert had written, and I am excerpting portions of it here. Trimble is a most articulate man, and his views on education and on protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge are meaningful.

———–

WROTE DR. GILBERT IN the MAY 9 EDITION OF THE FAIRBANKS NEWSPAPER : As a boy growing up in Arctic Village, I learned by listening to my elders and taught myself to write by copying words from bags of sugar and flour. I never dreamed that one day I would receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from a university. But I never quit learning, and have spent my life encouraging young people to earn their degrees and make Alaska and the world a better place.

Education is the key to protecting Gwich’in culture, our way of life and the place where we live. For thousands of years, my people have called the Arctic home, subsisting on species such as fish from the Yukon River and caribou from what is now called the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Clean water and the wild landscape are essential to our survival.

For decades, I have fought to protect the Arctic refuge from oil and gas development because, to the Gwich’in Nation, wilderness is necessary for the survival of our people and our culture, and much of our food comes from the refuge. Preserving the refuge is a matter of human rights.


Trimble-7 Arcticflora Trimble-5


L to R:  Tiny segment of Porcupine caribou herd stampede across Kongakut River; 
the Arctic is not a BARREN wasteland as some politicians have proclaimed;
Johnathan Solomon, Trimble Gilbert share thoughts on refuge with Senator Max Baucus.


President Obama’s administration has recommended that Congress designate the coastal plain and other areas of the refuge as wilderness to ensure that the land will remain wild forever. We support this recommendation, because if drilling hurts the Porcupine caribou herd, the Gwich’in would likely disappear…

“Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit” is what we call the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge. This means “The sacred place where life begins.” The caribou come here every summer to birth their calves and nurse them until they are ready to migrate…

If drilling happened and affected the Porcupine herd — about 180,000 animals — its future would be threatened. And so would the Gwich’in people and our villages. If the caribou lose land, we will lose caribou. Without them, we cannot feed our families or teach our young people the traditional subsistence way of life. Our children will move to cities, and our community — and our culture — will cease to exist…

20237 CaribouCottonGrass Trimble-3


L to R:  Hiking through Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with friend Burns Ellison; caribou
stand amidst field of Arctic Cotton; winter view from small plane of Arctic Village
.


We are grateful to President Obama for recommending that 12.28 million acres of the Arctic refuge be declared wilderness and protected forever. This way we know all of the important land for the Porcupine caribou will be protected and the herd will not go the way of the great bison herds.


Trimble-4


Trimble Gilbert with sons Gregory and Bobby, all excellent musicians.


The 19.5 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge are a treasure for all Americans…

—————

Janie and I have spent a number of years in the Arctic and believe that everything Trimble wrote in the paper is completely accurate. We’ll go one step further and say that the Arctic Refuge may well be the last self-regulating ecosystem in the world. The Gwich’in are the northern-most tribe of Indians in North America, living as they do at the base of the Arctic Refuge, located almost 200 miles north of Fairbanks.


————————–

 

 

 

HERE ARE A FEW OTHER POSTS ABOUT THE GWICH’IN INDIANS

 

Gwich’in Page

Alaska Boating Adventure

 

Extreme Ice Fishing

 

4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy




 

 

 

Read Comments | Post a Comment »

Silver Anniversary, Starting from the World Trade Center

posted: May 4th, 2016 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  Twenty-five years ago – that’s May 4th, 1991 — Janie and I were married, and for the past few days we’re been recalling some of the highlights of our lives as a couple. At the time we were surrounded by family and friends and were married in New York by Methodist minister Tom Vancus, who had once hiked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail.

That afternoon we drove to New York City and spent the first night of marriage in the World Trade Center. We dined in a revolving restaurant that looked out over the city and then attended CATS, a Broadway musical. Tragically, we cannot repeat our stay at the World Trade Center.


13128 30062 31220

L to R:  Celebrating sun rise at Apostle Islands, Porcupine River, Dry Tortugas


We departed NY several days later, then drove to our permanent home in Montana, then on to Alaska. Back then I had a contract to teach in a summer school program at a remote Gwich’in Indian village known as Arctic Village. The superintendent, an old friend, was trying to bring in people with different backgrounds.

My expertise was photojournalism, and for three more summers, Janie and I worked in several different Gwich’in Indian villages, to include Fort Yukon, Beaver, Rampart, Venetie and Arctic Village. At the end of our first summer we created a multimedia slide presentation, later made into a video and used by the Alaska Department of Education to acquaint prospective teachers with life in remote villages.

Originally, we’d planned to stay but one summer, but we became so enamored with their subsistence culture of caribou and fish, we continued to return, even doing so one winter. As well, we took up their cause to preserve the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, “birth place of the Porcupine Caribou herd,” writing stories for many major publications. We continue to support their various causes and remain friends with a number of the Gwich’in.


91527 N-LightsCabin 13124


L to R:  Jasper National Park, norther lights in Venetie, AK 
streaming over our first home together; Janie kayaking sea caves in the Apostles.

Now, 25 years later, we’re still fulfilling assignments with various publications, most of which we cover from the comforts of our Airstream. The easiest way to summarize some of our experiences is simply to post pictures.



AS-2710

Toasting one of our anniversaries from the road.


Accordingly I’ve included a small sampling of images from various spots in North America. Included are images of northern lights streaking over our cabin in the Arctic; an image of a four-month trip along the Yukon and Porcupine rivers; toasting one another near the Mojave National Preserve; and using a  wheelbarrow to transport our camping gear to a site in the Dry Tortugas.  Finally, I’ve included images of the  Apostle Islands, and of an elk and our Airstream in Jasper, Alberta. You can see write-ups on some of the areas by following links to blogs which I’ve included below.

It’s been a great life for Janie and me, and we hope to keep exploring North America for years to come, celebrating anniversaries where ever we might be.


—————————

 

World Trade Center:

Dry Tortugas:

Kayaking Bay of Fundy


4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy




Read Comments | 1 Comment »

Passing of Country Icon Merle Haggard

posted: April 7th, 2016 | by:Bert

MerleHaggard

©Bert Gildart: Anyone interested in learning more about the legendary country performer Merle Haggard, who died yesterday, should read: The Running Kind.

The book was written by David Cantwell and published by the University of Texas Press.  I read it last year and have it with me on my Nook.

Cantwell takes about 20 of Haggard’s most famous songs and details chapter by chapter the life experiences that led to the creation of each of these songs.  Remember: “Mama Tried,” “Sing Me Back Home,” Silver Wings,” or “Okie from Muskogee”?

Want to know what led to the creation of each song?  Cantwell explains.

As a young man Haggard and his family were challenged by immense poverty, which created a difficult environment for a young Haggard. Most likely rebellion led to flirtation with crime and that subsequently led to several years of imprisonment at San Quinton.  To overcome these challenges Haggard had to have been driven – but he also had to be blessed with immense talent; which he was.  And it was widely recognized.  Not only was Haggard included in the Country Music Hall of Fame, but he was recognized by many presidents for his talents.

His demise at age 79 represents the end of a musical era.


Perhaps not surprising, I have virtually every song he ever wrote – and sang.  Obviously on some level, I believe I can empathize with the words and melody, but for Haggard to have been so popular, many must also believe that they can too.

If you’re a Merle Haggard fan I highly recommend The Running Kind.

 

————-

 

ABOUT THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

Music Is Barometer of A Person’s Soul

Grand Ole’ Opry

 

4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy




Read Comments | Post a Comment »

Botanical Adaptations to the Desert

posted: April 5th, 2016 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Several  days ago, I rode my bike by an area of Anza Borrego Desert State Park in which Hedge Hog Cacti were blooming in profusion. Next morning Janie and I drove by the same area and could not find a single Hedge Hog in bloom. I know that flowers of the species close at night, but apparently they remain closed when clouds are heavy and winds are blowing.

Hedge Hog is an interesting species for other reasons as well, specifically for the adaptations it has made to harsh desert conditions. In college, botany fascinated me and I took a number of courses on the subject as electives. Over the years I’ve used the information and hope others might enjoy hearing it here. Information about desert flowers is currently manifest because so many cacti are now in bloom.


BorregoCacti-1 BorregoCacti-2

Hedge Hog Cactus about mid day then (photo on right) early morning.


From memory and recent readings, I know that plants must open their pores (stomates) in order for photosynthesis to take place. But if they were to open them during the day, not only would they expel carbon dioxide but they would also expel water when it was needed most. Evolution and time, however, addressed that problem. At night, CO2 is converted into an acid and stored until day, at which time light helps complete the process of photosynthesis. (Remember photosynthesis is the opposite of respiration, the latter of which exchanges CO2 for O2.)


There are yet other plants that have  evolved over the eons to desert conditions and those are explained by examining PACK RAT MIDDENS. Pack rats have life styles that contribute much to our understanding of the past. Rat families use middens year after year and century after century, and some of the oldest date back 40,000 years.


Phacelia3 Forget-me-Not2 Phacelia

L to R:  Phacellia, Forget-Me-Not (Cryptantha), Phacelia sp.


By examining the “middens” – contents, which are preserved by urine that hardens to such an extent that it almost appears they have ossified – scientist have been able to peer into the past. For instance, biologists know from the presence of identifiable seeds that certain types of phacelia, Forget-me-Nots, and Primrose existed in the Mojave 10,000 years ago. Subsequent to that time, however, these plants disappeared but then, about 3,000 years ago, somewhat similar seeds reappeared in the nests of pack rats, i.e,. their middens.

Janice E. Bowers, in an extraordinarily erudite paper (written for a botany journal), suggests two possibilities. She says the climate may have changed and then changed back, or, she says, members of the genus Cryptantha, Camissonia, Phacelia, and others, might have evolved features to cope with today’s conditions. In other words, my examples posted here could be relatively new species.


BoothsPrimrose

Booth’s Primrose


If so, then, these plants are products of the late Pleistocene, an epoch characterized by glaciers and with subsequent glacial lakes that created relatively mild conditions. Those conditions, then, account for the reappearance of seeds from the three genera (Cryptantha, Camissonia, Phacelia) I’ve included here. Common names are listed above, but again, they include Phacelia, Forget-me-Nots, and Primrose.

I’m fascinated by the ways in which nature has learned to adapt to specific challenges, and hope you enjoy this sharing of enthusiasm. Of course, by providing this information I also have an excuse to post images. One image shows the plant at midday, the other at the approach of dawn.


==    ==  ==

 

 

SO WHAT WERE WE DOING BACK IN APRIL OF 2008?

V-Bar-V

4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy




Read Comments | 1 Comment »

Joe Medicine Crow, Last Surviving War Chief, Passes

posted: April 4th, 2016 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Joe Medicine Crow, the last surviving war chief of the plains Indians tribe died April 3, 2016. He was 102. He grew up and lived most of his life at Lodge Grass, Montana.

As a child he listened to stories about Little Big Horn, told by a relative who served as a scout for Custer. He earned the title of war chief after stealing enemy horses and other exploits as a U.S. soldier during WWII. In 2009, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


Joe Medicine Crow

Joe Medicine Crow


I came to know Medicine Crow while working for Native Peoples Magazine on two different occasions. The first time he was participating in the renaming of a national park-managed-area. Initially, it had been named after the field general who lost the Battle of the Little Bighorn, essentially because of arrogance. That was about 20 years ago and the renaming ceremony changed the name from Custer Battlefield to Little Bighorn Battlefield. At the time Medicine Crow led several dances and later, he graciously agreed to an interview. Also attending the name change were Gerard Baker, who helped bring about the controversial name change, and Secretary of Interior Gail Norton.

Medicine Crow was a historian and author of the Crow Nation of Native Americans. His writings on Native American history and reservation culture are considered seminal works, but he is best known for his writings and lectures concerning the Battle of the Little Bighorn.


JoeMedicineCrow 30046 LBH3

L to R:  Joe Medicine Crow leads dance commemorating historic name change;
new Indian Memorial; Gail Norton and Little Bighorn Superintendent Gerard Baker.


Because of his work he received an honorary doctorate from Rocky Mountain College in 1999. He received an honorary doctorate at the University of Southern California in 2003 and an honorary doctorate at Bacone College in 2010, an educational institution where he had been an ambassador and commencement speaker for over 50 years.  My last meeting with Medicine Crow was at an annual event that celebrated the life of Chief Plenty Coups. The celebration was held at Plenty Coups State Park in Montana.

Joe Medicine Crow was a man much in demand and I always appreciated the fact that he set aside time to visit with me. He was truly a great man and will certainly join the pantheon of Montana Native Americans who have made a difference not only to his native culture but to the standards of life in American.


————————-


THIS TIME LAST YEAREarth Mother

4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy




Read Comments | Post a Comment »

One Thousand Different Species

posted: March 19th, 2016 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Between wind-swept Dante’s View and the torrid salt flats dramatized by the Devil’s Golf course – located thousands of feet below — Death Valley supports over 1000 species of plants. Realizing that the area in between consists of materials such as iron, aluminum, titanium, hematite and some green chlorite, the tally really should be impressive.


 

Dante'sView


Badwater, as seen from Dante’s View. 
In between these two extreme landscapes, the terrain hosts about 1,000 different species of plants.


What’s more, weather is not always conducive to plant growth, a condition that can overlap, for several days ago we struggled for balance as I created the two panoramic images included here. Wind was howling at the Devil’s Golf Course, and a storm was already blowing hard. Off in the distance, Janie and I could see huge clouds of sand swirling about 30 miles in the distance near Stove Pipe Wells. It did not seem like a good day for flowers, nevertheless, right now you cannot travel far in this desert park without seeing huge fields of flowers, and their radiance and breadth draws gasps!


 

DevilsGolfCourse2

That’s not snow, it’s salt…  And it represents the harsh conditions in which Death Valley plants have evolved. 
Look closely and you’ll see our truck, here a blue dot.  Panoramas create much altered perspectives as in this case. 
Actually, I’m about 50 feet away from the truck, but then this is a 180 degree sweep.


Because my two panoramas  cover a 180 degree expanse, our truck may be overlooked, but examine the image closely and you’ll see a blue speck. Actually the truck was only 30 feet from the point at which I’m standing. I was trying to PAN with the camera in my cell phone while balanced atop a chuck of salt. Meanwhile, the winds huffed and they puffed requiring that I make several attempts to satisfactorily cover the entire sweep of salt. Though plants don’t grow in this, the Badwater area, they do survive along the edges. Amazing!


Booth'sPrimRose2 DesertChicory ArtistPalette-60


L to R:  Booth’s Primrose; Desert Chicory; Artist’s Palette.

Over the next few days we’re hoping to find a few plants with interesting histories, such as the Desert-Lavender. According to one of our flower books, data from fossilized pack rat middens provides evidence this species advance into what is now Death Valley during a warming trend. And that trend is ancient, dating back 10,000, which is recognized by geologists as the Holocene.

As you can see we’ve had  having fun learning about adaptations some of Death Valley’s one-thousand plants have made.


== == == ==

 

NOTE: I’m posting this blog three days after departing Death Valley.  To create the few entries I made back in Death Valley, it was necessary to get up at 2 a.m. when pressure on the internet was not so great.  However, all that I’ve written above is still applicable.  Flowers are still blooming, and it is expected they will continue to do so for at least a few more weeks.  Essentially, seeds from flowers higher up and a bit further north are the ones now producing flowers.  If you have time, it’s worth the effort, and the bonus is that visitation should be slacking off.

 

===

THIS TIME ABOUT TEN YEARS AGO:

The Park That Made A President

 

4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy




Read Comments | Post a Comment »

What Happens to the Amargosa?

posted: March 18th, 2016 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:   Included here are several images, and two of them show a river flowing near Shoshone, Nevada, just outside of Death Valley. Before reading any further, try and imagine what happens — eventually — to this, the Amargosa River?

I think the fate of the river is amazing, and have tried on numerous occasions to photograph it, but it has either been traveling below ground or there simply hasn’t been enough water to reveal it as a river. But two days ago, such was not the case.


AmaragosaDrive-4 AmaragosaDrive-3


The Amargosa River flows
almost 200 miles then enters Death Valley National Park.  What Happens to it Then?


In short the Amargosa begins northwest of Las Vegas, where it flows generally south for about 185 miles sometimes above ground sometimes below. It passes through Beatty, and Tecopa California, continues flowing in a near parallel course adjacent to Route 127. It flows by the Dumont Dunes then shortly thereafter turns west and enters Death Valley where it turns northwest and flows to Badwater which is 282 feet below level. Here, some of the river disappears into the ground, feeding an aquifer that is the remnant of prehistoric Lake Manly.

But not all: much of the Amargosa River simply evaporates, leaving behind the huge mineralized body of white.

Wonder what all those crystals consist of? Kneel down, touch the white stuff and then give it the taste test. It’s salt, and virtually all came from the Amargosa River, a river that can at times flood and create chaos in small settlements.


43728 43722


In Death Valley, at Badwater,
which is 282 feet below sea level, the river disappears.  Just another of the bizarre aspect of this incredible national park.


The phenomena of the Amargosa has always intrigued me and when I first learned these facts, I was blown away. What do you think?

I think the Amargosa is another of the crazy features that makes the valley just as interesting as the amazing flower bloom Death Valley has recently enjoyed.

 

=  === ====


THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

El Pinacate — The Place Of All Creation


4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy




Read Comments | Post a Comment »

Barking Dogs Not Compatible with Organ Pipe’s Sounds of Silence

posted: March 11th, 2016 | by:Bert

organ pipe cactus

Organ Pipe Cactus frame the Moon

©Bert Gildart: Despite the wonderful time Janie and I had in Organ Pipe, we departed following an ugly event that was accompanied by several F bombs being levied at me.

The event was precipitated by a confrontation I had with two sets of campers parked adjacent to us who had barking dogs. Barking was not confined to just a yip, rather it was sustained, and it occurred randomly throughout the day and into the evening. Finally, after almost two weeks of being awakened in the morning and having several dogs owned by our campground neighbors drowning out the desert’s “SOUNDS OF SILENCE” (see accompanying photo), I went outside and asked the neighbors to please get their dogs quiet. Moments later the campground host and hostess walked up and we discussed barking dogs. They’d heard the commotion and agreed with my thoughts about uncontrolled dogs, for that afternoon, two rangers confronted the people in the sites adjacent to us. I have no idea what transpired, but whatever they said seemed to help – for a while.

EVIL LADY

Two mornings later their dogs commenced barking – again awakening me. I was fed up and went outside and asked them to PLEASE get their dogs quiet. About that time, another campground hostess showed up and I detailed just how exasperated I was. Then I returned to my camper. Later, we noticed that the people with one set of dogs had moved to another site, far away. But the “evil” lady (her husband did not join her) in site 135 marched over and launched into me using every imaginable word she could muster up. She said her dog didn’t bark and that I was a so-and-so liar. I told her to leave and when she turned I told her to have a good day. She turned around and again started dropping her F bombs. Then she stomped off yelling that I was a F—— Nazi.

Because of the lady’s hostility I felt I should file a complaint, which I did on one of the park’s comment form. I suggest that when people enter the campground, Kiosk rangers should ask if they have pets. If so, they should be provided a hand out explaining that dogs must be under control and if not, owners will be fined – or asked to leave. They should be told that dogs must be on leashes at all times (not so for my neighbors ), and that non-stop dog barking will not be tolerated. They should be told that campers should be limited to two dogs, and not to FOUR as another group of campers recently had.

WONDERFUL KOA

I wrote more in my report, but I think this expresses my feelings for my blog readers. Right now we’re heading to Death Valley, and we’re over-nighting in a KOA, a campground. But, still, I have just got say that I have suddenly started to revere the KOA here in Needles, California. They say in their Rule and Regulations that all dogs must be on leashes and that barking dogs will not be tolerated. If your dogs continue to bark, says the KOA handout, owners will be “asked to leave” and money “will not be refunded.” I absolutely love this campground.

In summary, I should note that for a number of years Janie and I traveled with a Malmut, which we trained not to bark, so it can be done! I should also note that about 50% of campers at Organ Pipe were traveling with dogs, but they, too, had apparently trained their dogs, for most pets did not engage in that horrible nonstop yip, yip, yip.

OK, that’s now in the past. Today, we hope to make it to Death Valley and enjoy the “Super Bloom.”


== == == ==

 

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

Magnificence of Birds In Flight

 

4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy




Read Comments | 5 Comments »

Ripe Mexican Marijuana Crop Now A Concern at Organ Pipe

posted: March 5th, 2016 | by:Bert


©Bert Gildart: Several days ago Janie and I attended a presentation in Organ Pipe provided by two U.S. Border Patrol agents.  It was an excellent talk, and we took away much information.   One thought, however, that sticks with us is that the marijuana crop is now ripe and drug dealers are now attempting to smuggle tons of it across the border that Organ Pipe shares with Mexico.

One of the agents said if we see people with huge backpacks most likely they’re smugglers and they may well be carrying guns.  “Leave the area immediately,” he urged, “and notify us.”  The agent went on to say smugglers don’t want to see visitors any more than we want to see them.  He said smugglers have scouts posted on hills with commanding views, and when they see Border Patrol agents they have signals that warn “the mules” to scurry back to Mexico.”  The two men also spoke about the skills members of their unit possess to track smugglers.



Dos Lomitas-5 BlackBottles SenitaLoop-6

Jane Gildart, who says that here she could jump across the border.  (The waist-high fence is for stopping cars.)
Dave Vedder with pair of black water bottles.  Black is used by most undocumented immigrants
because they don’t reflect sunlight; three hikers, which the landscape can easily swallow.

 

Securing the American border has a long history that can best be appreciated by hiking some of the park’s trails.  About a week ago friends from Tucson (Rich, Emma and Eleanor Luhr) joined us and we hiked to the Milton Mine.  The mine was named after Jefferson David Milton who was of the first people to patrol the area, doing so in 1887.  Davis rode horseback between Yuma and Tucson.

As we explored the area once patrolled by this now historic man, we found a few discarded water bottles and several worn out shoes.  We found carpet material, used by smugglers.  When placed over their boots fibers in the carpet obscure tracks.  One of the presenters noted, however, that some of their trackers have become so talented they can follow fibers through the brush.  Indeed, Janie and I were impressed by the described capabilities of men and women now attempting to protect the wonderful resources so unique to Organ Pipe.  For one month, now, Janie and I have been enjoying those resources.  Sadly, we may soon have to get on to other business.


HouseFinch CactusWren (1 of 1) GhostFlower


An infinitesimal representation of the plethora of life to be found in Organ Pipe, an International Biosphere Preserve. 
L to R: House finch helping to pollinate ocotillo, cactus wren, hibiscus.

 

While visiting this 330,688 acre preserve, we’ve ridden bikes and hiked trails.  We’ve enjoyed evening presentation and the clear night skies, and we have taken advantage of park shuttles, one of which took us to the Milton Mine trailhead.  Here, while hiking to the mine, sharp-eyed Emma (now 15) spotted a Cristata at the tip of an Organ Pipe.  Previously I thought the strange growth was confined to the saguaro.

As well, we’ve marveled at the various species of birds that have adapted to a life in thorns, most notably the cactus wren.


A-Mt-Bike2 EmaRichElanor AjoMtDrive-15


Organ Pipe provides magnificent biking opportunities; a day of hiking to both Milton and Baker Mine
where we observed artifacts discarded by illegal intruders;
Valentine Day celebrated with drive of the beautiful Ajo Mountain Drive.

Certainly the monument enjoys these natural resource features in part because over 90 percent of Organ Pipe has been designated wilderness.  Obviously that presents an immense management dilemma, especially now because the marijuana crop has matured necessitating an increase in surveillance.  Some of the patrol work is conducted on horse, but often, to insure visitor safety, they must respond urgently, and that means they must also use 4-wheelers.

“What do you prefer,” they ask pointedly, “thousands of illegals denuding the landscape, or us trying to ensure visitor safety and reduce environmental impact?”  The answer should be obvious for last year Organ Pipe was able to reopen the 60% of lands that had been closed.  But there is still work to be done.  Last year agents seized 100,000 pounds of pot, while in 2005, they seized but 17,000 pounds.  But hopefully these losses to smugglers will continue to benefit the successful program the Park Service has been implementing.


= == == ==

 

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

(Over the years I’ve written a number of magazine stories about OP and posted about a dozen blogs. 
Here are five examples.)

Organ Pipe1, Organ Pipe 2,
Star Light– Star Bright,

Natural History of Organ Pipe,

Airstream Camper Tips from Organ Pipe

OUR RECENT BOOKS

4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy





Read Comments | Post a Comment »

Airstream Photo Blind Relaxes Birds

posted: March 2nd, 2016 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: IMPROVISED BLIND: With the help of an improvised photo blind I’ve managed to capture images of the cactus wren from the camping space alloted to us here in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. We’ve been here now for almost three weeks and in the course of our stay have biked, hiked  and taken advantage of the van trips provided by the park. I’ll report on those later because right now I’m excited about the images I made yesterday.



Photography-1 CactusWren (1 of 1) CactusWren-5


My “photo blind” consists of my Zip Dee awning, backdropped by Rich Luhr’s Airstream.  With it I’ve also managed to capture an image of a house finch pollinating an ocotillo.


HouseFinch CactusWren-4 CactusWren-3


I’m always amazed by the coordinated flight maneuvers birds have developed to avoid cactus spines…


Heat is building and we may start heading north, hoping Death Valley is not so overwhelmed with visitors that the pleasure of viewing is spoiled.


==  ==  ==  ==

 

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

El Pinacata — The Place of All Creation

 

OUR RECENT BOOKS

4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy




Read Comments | Post a Comment »

Allocating Water in Organ Pipe NM

posted: February 13th, 2016 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: In the Sonoran desert, characterized in part by Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, everything seems to revolve around water, and generally, from the scarcity of it.

For the past few days as we’ve been hiking and biking the area, that fact has been driven home. Several days ago, we hiked to Red Tanks Tinaja, a formation that is configured to collect water, something it apparently does well, for the damp sands were stippled with the tracks of ungulates, perhaps peccaries or the endangered Sonoran antelope.

But more prominently it was impossible to escape the struggling beauty of saguaros embraced as they were by the limbs of the verdant palo verde. At the trailhead to the Red Tanks Tinaja, Park Service interpretive panels explained that saguaros have been here for almost 10,000 years. To survive, the panel explains that the seeds creating these trees thrive only when they chance to fall in the presence of a nurse plant such as the palo verde. In their embrace saguaros generally survive, for the thick-leaved plant can offer much-needed shade and sometimes, too, shelter from harsh rains. As well, the palo verde can hide its then-tiny charge from being seen and then eaten.”


compassionateTanks-3


Compassionate Water Tanks, to assist struggling life In Organ Pipe


Lastly, it has been impossible to forget my chance sighting last year of four compassionate water tanks located while biking one of the park’s more remote areas. As I’ve learned from reading the absolutely incredible book entitled The Devil’s Highway, many undocumented immigrants have perished while trying to steal through this park – hoping to find a better life in the States.

The tanks are still there, but this year it appeared as though they were seldom used. Nevertheless, in combination with the more natural features just described, they are all reminders that heat is a killer, resolved in part by the presence of water.


RedTanksTinaja-3 RedTanksTinaja-6


Red Tanks Tinaja helps collect water; palo verde shelters organ pipe seeds that have chanced to fall in its area of purview


Lesson? Carry lots when you explore, particularly now as the Sonoran winter gives way to an unexpectedly warm spring. Today, on this February the 13th, here at noon, it is according to our Airstream thermometer 97ºF – outside.

We have no hookups.


———————

 

4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy




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