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

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




Read Comments | Post a Comment »

Mountain Biking in Anza Borrego Desert Park — A Challenge

posted: January 16th, 2016 | by:Bert


©Bert Gildart: Several days ago a friend and I coerced our significant others to help with logistics for an incredible bicycle ride in Anza Borrego Desert State Park.

Loading bikes in the back of a pickup, we drove up Montezuma Grade, and that’s where we began our biking adventure, riding into Culp Valley over a sand- and rock-covered road. The day before it had snowed, and we were surrounded by peaks that sparkled white. Yes, this was all part of the Sonoran Desert, and we had been lured by the prospect of seeing great beauty and possibly Indian morteros. Once, the Kumeyaay Indians had lived here in concert with the land.

My companion was Gareth Pritchard, a man I met last year while biking the Ajo Mountain Loop Road in Organ Pipe National Monument. Gareth was from Wales, but immigrated to Canada where he worked in the business of hotel management.  We have stayed in touch.


Garrith Pritchard-5

After a three tortuous-mile ascent Gareth and I prepare to descend.  Just turn the bike around.


But it was his volunteer work subsequent to retirement that seemed so rewarding. Gareth joined a group who assemble old bikes. Components are then shipped to Africa, and Gareth said that in some of the impoverished villages bikes elevate the standard of living for many residents. “Bikes,” he says, “are absent in some villages, and they provide mobility.”

We visited about those interests as we rode, but soon settled into the challenge of the ride, which began with a steep climb that continued for about three miles. The ride then plummeted toward Grapevine Canyon.

Gareth and I both enjoy recording our adventures with our respectively-owned Garmins, but Gareth’s Garmin went beyond mine, for he has learned how to create maps of his adventures, which he shared with me. “Look,” he said, “at the snake-like section in the map’s left center. That’s where the route really descends. Wet sand will add to the challenge and is where our fun really begins.”

My image of Gareth back dropped by jeep tracks and rocks is where the hair-raising descent began. But shortly after that the trail leveled, and soon passed Angelina Spring where we found evidence of Native American activity. “To think” said Gareth as we paused at a mortero, “that we can ride bikes in this remote land and pass a place where Indians once pulverized Yucca to make bread.”


Culp Valley to Yaqui Well CS (3) GarrithMortero Garrith Pritchard-1

Map that Gareth downloaded and shared with me; Gareth stopping to inspect
moteros used by Native Americans to pulverize yucca into a substance — later used to make bread, route to summit.


We dismounted and spent about an hour exploring the area, then continued on to our terminus, again checking our Garmins. Data revealed that from Culp Valley to Tamarisk (where Janie picked me up five hours later) we had biked 15.98 miles. Average moving speed was 6.12 miles (we stopped lots) and average temperature was 53.5. The route, according to our devices revealed we had climbed 1,706 feet then plummeted 3,156 feet.

During our entire trip we saw but few others. We encountered a very considerate couple driving a jeep, and off in the distance we saw three other bike riders. Our trip was truly an adventure, and I hope that my post will turn people on to the joys of mountain biking and to the idea that we really need to preserve and protect such magnificent lands.


——————

 

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

Organ Pipe Has Reopened

New Thoughts About Alamo Canyon

 

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 »

Favorite Images From 2015

posted: January 5th, 2016 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: As a photographer, the year 2015 has been a productive one, and I want to share 15 of my favorite photos in MY NEXT TWO posts. The selection was a difficult one, as it involved an editing progress that drew from over 10,000 exposures.


BurrowingOwls-20 BlackBear-5 DeerB-Meadow-20


L to R:  Burrowing owls must be resourceful to find nesting sites, even adjacent to the
Sonny Bono National WL Refuge; black bears
in Shenandoah may now boast highest N. American density; once deer in Shenandoah suffered near if not complete extinction, but not so any longer.


Essentially, selection was based on the story-telling quality of the image. In other cases the choice was simplified as it was the picture editor who chose the illustration to illustrate a story or section in one of my books, and that influence my choice.



AndreKeitt Boquillos (6 of 20) HairCut-1

L To R:  Talented actor Andre Keitt performs at Old Sturbridge Village, recalling ancestor’s heritage;
children in Boquillas respond to visitors who accessed the village from Big Bend NP; clipping wife’s hair, prompting many women
to believe Janie was perhaps the bravest of all travelers.


Use here on my blog and on Facebook  is more relaxed, and one of the images that made my favorite list was selected because so many readers responded. That’s the one of me shearing Janie’s locks, and, as you might guess, many respondents were “horrified” women.  When the two posting are complete you’ll see images of national parks, wildlife, night skies, and travel. You’ll note that often I try to include people interacting with the setting. (For additional images click on Shenandoah, Lake Meade, Sturbridge, Boquillas, and Big Bend.)


LakeMeadeShoreline (1 of 1)


November 2015 Photo of Lake Meade dramatizing with a panoramic image the 100-plus feet of vertical depth the reservoir has lost. 
Who knows what the future holds, but this loss reflects the result of a 15 year drought — and perhaps an overuse by the nearby city of Las Vegas.


I hope these images stir you and create appreciation for our great land.  As well I hope they instill compassion for the critters that depend on this land and for a few of the inhabitants who have become special to Janie and me. Obviously there are are many more, but we couldn’t include  (or photograph) them all.

Happy New Year.

——

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

 

Adventures of Ballarat Bert and Panamint Jane

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 »

Pearl Harbor Survivor

posted: December 9th, 2015 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Seventy-four years ago I was at Pearl Harbor, and though I was but a few months old – I believe circumstances of the day make me a Pearl Harbor Survivor? At least that’s what I always told Mom and Dad as the event grew in my mind, and when we were all in a jovial and reflective mood.

At the time my dad was a captain, stationed in Hawaii at Schofield Barracks. It was a Sunday morning and my mom asked my dad, “Why all the noise?” My dad (and I’ve heard the story often) told Mom not to worry, that the Air Force was probably conducting some tests at nearby Hickam Field. Nevertheless, he looked outside and much to his surprise saw a plane flying toward our civilian quarters, and doing so at a low level.

Suddenly the pilot opened up with machine gun fire, forcing my dad to look up where he quickly noticed an emblem of the rising sun on the underneath side of the wing. “Stay inside,” Dad hollered at Mom. “We’re at war!” Then he ran to where I was sleeping in the yard in a bassinet and grabbed me. In later years, I would joke, and say, “Why were the Japs trying to kill me?”

Immediately, the military was mobilized, and Dad and his command were directed to a beachhead with orders to thwart a possible invasion of Japanese from the ocean. Dependents, such as my mom, were directed to take children into the nearby sugarcane plantations and seek cover.

The date, of course, was December 7, 1941 and Japanese were hoping to destroy the Pacific fleet, but luckily most were at sea. However, the Japanese did destroy the Arizona and killed several thousand military service men.

In the aftermath, most service dependents were ordered to return stateside, unless they were locally employed. At the time, Mom was working as a secretary and was told her position was significant and that she could remain on Oahu, which she did until Dad was subsequently ordered to Guadalcanal. In 1943, Mom and I returned to the states, where my first memories of Dad were of him deplaning in Washington D.C… From a small balcony Mom and I looked out over a small runway and saw Dad waving at us vigorously.

Thinking back, that was my very first memory, but as the years went by and stories from Dad, Mom and their friends piled up, I came to believe that I could hear the bombs breaking and the sound of a Japanese pilot strafing our home with machine gun fire.


———

Ancillary Post:

West Point, Where Our Parents Are Buried


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 »

Veteran’s Day Commemoration — A Personal Note

posted: November 11th, 2015 | by:Bert

30 YEARS OF SERVICE: Today, I’m remembering American service men and that certainly includes my dad, whose military career was eventful. During his 30 years of service he witnessed the bombing of Pearl Harbor and then, years later, served in Korea as a general. Other stations included command of the Army’s first Redstone Missile Unit, responsible for helping place America’s first satellite into orbit.

His honors were many and included the Army Commendation Medal; the Bronze Star Medal with “V” for valor, the Legion of Merit. Finally, he received The Distinguished Service Medal, the highest award given during Peace Time. Wrote then-Secretary of the Army in a warm letter to Dad, “I do not believe it within our capability to give the full recognition due a man who has devoted his life to hard work, high responsibility and the performance of duty…” Today, a small section of the West Point library is dedicated to my dad.


Dad400

Note, the image included here depicts my dad at West Point, which seemed to have defined him. He was active until he was 90, at which time he needed a wheel chair following a bad fall. It was, however, only temporary.

 



Partly because of him, Janie and I make periodic contribution to the Wounded Warriors Project. All of these outstanding men deserve the accolades of a nation.


ABOUT This Time Last Year:

West Point’s Historic Cemetery — Where Our Parents Now Reside


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 »

Fiddle Festival Starts Today

posted: November 6th, 2015 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  Fixed forever in my mind is the image of Trimble Gilbert, a Gwich’in Indian, sitting proud, feet beating up and down in a rhythmic manner, drawing his bow across the strings of his fiddle, creating a sweet, sweet sound that only a handful of skilled musicians can yet produce…


12151

At Christmas, Trimble Gilbert of Arctic Village has written this author asking,
“Bert, have you learned yet to jig?”   The answer is:  “I’m still trying.”


FESTIVAL STARTS TODAY:

For me, these memories remain as exhilarating as helping my friend Kenneth Frank of Arctic Village, extract dozens of arctic grayling, cod and lake trout from a fishnet in –33°F.  The difference is that fiddle playing is intended to offset—perhaps even celebrate—the rigors of life in the “bush.” (My opening paragraphs as appeared in Native Peoples Magazine.)

Today, I am reminded of these experiences because 10 years ago Janie and I covered the Athabascan Fiddle Festival in Fairbanks – and the annual four-day event BEGINS TODAY.

Images here are mostly from the Fiddle Festival as used in Native People Magazine.  One, however (three young ladies) is from National Wildlife magazine and was used to illustrate my story “Hunting For Their Future.”  The purpose of that story was to call attention to the dependency of the Gwich’in Indians on the Porcupine Caribou herd – and to the herds dependency on the Arctic Refuge.


10349 90965 12348


L to R Image of three chldren has appeared widely;  Trimble Gilbert and sons widely admired for musical skills; Kenneth Frank ice fishing at
Old John Lake, about 20 miles by snowmobile from Arctic in brutal -30 temperatures.

 

Initially, we meet this wonderful group of people through four years of summer school teaching.  We’ve remained in contact with many through Facebook and occasional telephone calls.  Gwich’in villages number about a dozen and most are small number but several hundred inhabitants.  They flank the Yukon and tributaries of the Yukon.

The pictures also remind us that we are overdue for another visit to the Arctic.  We’re hoping that everyone there is still hale and hearty.


————


OTHER GWICH’IN POSTS:

Alaskan Boating Adventure

Gwich’in and the Arctic Refuge

Power of One


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 »

Dark Skies and Chief Joseph

posted: November 3rd, 2015 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Yesterday, for the month of November, the Northwest Outdoor Writer’s Association newsletter included my image of the Chief Joseph Battlefield.  In the past, the image has been used in a number of publications to include my book, MONTANA ICONS.

I think the image addresses several issues. With the North Star positioned at the top of the teepee poles (for other stars to circle around it), I hope the image suggests that after Chief Joseph’s desperate and near-successful struggle to escape the confinement of reservation life, the spirit of this famous Indian chief remains free.


Night-1

Tragically, this is the only place he might be free, for the U.S. government did not live up to any promises they made to him.

Joseph outmaneuvered the Army for several thousand miles, and though their numbers were few and the opposing forces many, Joseph proved himself to be a superior general.  Sadly, he was stopped just short of Canada, his destination, where he was hoping to join Chief Sitting Bull.  But the telegraph defeated him, bringing in General Miles at the Bear Paw Mountains. Sitting Bull, of course, had just defeated Custer, a man who graduated at the very bottom of his class at West Point.

The image also tells a story of Night Skies and asks a question, tacit though it may be.  How many places are left in the world where light pollution allows such clarity?

The answer is:  Few, very few!


—————–


LAST YEAR AT THIS TIME:

West Point, Where Our Parents Now Rest


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 »

HALLOWEEN HORRORS – ANTICIPATING THE MORROW

posted: October 30th, 2015 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  HALLOWEEN HORRORS – ANTICIPATING THE MORROW

Children, children don’t be troubled,
We aren’t here to burst your bubble.
But listen first to the tale we make,
Before you eat your Halloween cake…

Picture now these words that follow during the walk you are just dying to make! We’ll be there to help make you merry throughout a night that you will forever take.

Listen now — and picture the images these words comport to make.


HolloweenHorrors-1


Hee, hee, hee.


In a cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog;
Wool of bat and tongue of dog.
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting
Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;

And now, hee, hee, hee… the refrain:

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble…

Gildart Ghouls, but FLESHED out with just a little help from William Shakespeare and his Macbeth.

We know what we are, but know not what we may be. Hee, hee, hee.


—————–


THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

Celebrating the Macabre


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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Unusual Birds At Our Feeders

posted: October 23rd, 2015 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: If I had to list the single most pleasure of being home I think I would have to say it’s our bird feeders. Throughout the years our two caged chunks of suet have attracted everything from pileated woodpeckers to small chickadees. Meanwhile our large columned feeders have attracted various types of song birds and several times, it has attracted turkeys. Once a bald eagle plopped in.

Right now the combination of feeders is attracted two birds we don’t see often: the Blue Jay and the Steller’s jay. Neighbors say the blue jay (eastern) is rare here and attribute their expanding population to changing climate.


BlueJay-1 StellersJay-2

L to R:  Eastern Blue Jay and Steller’s Jay, two birds that rarely visit our feeder — photographed yesterday within 15 minutes of one another.


In the past our feeders have also attracted raccoons (Raccoon Problem Resolved), and when that happens I use a portable drill, detach the screws and bring the feeder in. Takes about a minute.

Though we have heard reports of bears several miles from us, if we ever thought our feeders were attracting bears, again, we’d take them all down. We ascribe to the philosophy that a fed bear is a dead bear, and recently, a sad episode dramatized that fact. One hundred miles south of us in Missoula, an elderly woman was trying to “help” bears out by feeding them. Soon, one of the fed bears began to associate the lady with food. When no one was around, the bear broke into her house and attacked and fatally wounded the woman. That happened just a few weeks ago.

We learn much from our feeders and from the interaction of the different species at our feeders. From the way in which the various species interact, we’ve drawn some parallels between the species – and politics. So… if you want to know which species might represent the various political parties, click on my link (Are Birds Political Creatures? You bet).  Click as well on Raccoons At Our Bird Feeder.

Hope it brings a smile to your face.



—————


THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

West Point’s Historic Cemetery, Where Our Parents Now Rest


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





Ho

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Jimmy Driftwood Remembered

posted: October 14th, 2015 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Though now deceased, the man pictured here was once famous as a musician, though he began his career in a different field.  The image was in my files and was included about 25 years ago in a story I wrote about Mountain View, Arkansas.

Any idea who the man might be?

The man began his career in education, where he served as a teacher and a principal.  During that time, he wrote hundreds of songs to help his students learn about history.  He wrote a story about a battle that occurred in New Orleans.  He wrote a story about wandering the Southland on his Tennessee Stud.

Ultimately, a friend encouraged him to take his songs to Nashville, and I love the way the man told his story.  “I left over 50 songs,” said this very modest man, “with one of the top producers.  They told me to return in a few days for an evaluation.”



JimmyDriftwood2


Several days later the man returned and as he told the story to me he bowed his head slightly, duplicating, I suspect, a moment from the past.

“Did you like any of my songs?” he asked the producer?”

The producer responded.  “We’ll take every single one of them.”

The man’s name, of course, was Jimmy Driftwood, and in his life so many of his songs were recorded by top performers of the day.  Eddie Arnold recorded Tennessee Stud, and John Horton performed his “Battle of New Orleans.”  Driftwood also released an album that included his songs “Billy Yank and Johnny Reb.”

During the next few years, Driftwood, performed at Carnegie Hall, the Grand Ole Opry, and at major folk festivals. On March 31, 1962, Driftwood was elevated from a regular guest to starring member of the Grand Ole Opry. He also returned to the educational profession in 1962, teaching folklore at the University of Southern California in Idyllwild.  He was also an advisor to National Geographic on Ozark Folk Ways.

I must have met the man about 1985 and at the time I was a Contributing Editor for magazines produced by the Affinity Group, to include Trailer Life and Motorhome.  Though I offered to take Driftwood to lunch, he insisted that he and his wife pay.  He was one of the kindest people I have met, and I rank my time with him as one of my most memorable experiences.  To think a man of his talent would spend the day with me!

Driftwood died in 1998, but I suspect that in his life he made lots of  people happy.

————-

 

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

Sandy Hook National Seashore


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 »

Bear Spray Works!

posted: October 3rd, 2015 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Four days ago (September 29, 2015) a 65-year-old man hiking alone in the Many Glacier Valley of Glacier National Park surprised a sow grizzly, which attacked him. The sow had two cubs and shee responded to instinct, which had conditioned her to protect her offspring by charging.

The grizzly bear grabbed the man apparently by the lower part of his leg and shook him. Struggling for his can of bear spray the man successfully deployed the spray causing the bear to release the hiker and leave the area.

Though the man had puncture wounds on both his hand and his leg he managed to walk about a mile to his car and then drive himself 30 miles to an emergency center in Cut Bank, Montana. Doctors treated the man then released him where he continued on with his itinerary.


gb-12818 BearSpray5 StupidPhotographers

 

Hikers frequently encounter grizzly bears in the Many Glacier Valley, and should always be prepared to respond with bear spray. 
Some hikers invite trouble, as these two hikers who cut me off from the safety afforded by traveling further down the Ice Berg Lake Trail.


Though bears in the Many Glacier area often encounter hikers, still most bears try to avoid contact with humans, in part because of good bear management in Glacier National Park. People who ignore the rules are generally ticketed, and had a ranger been in proximity to the people who cut me off several years ago as they tried to get the “perfect” bear picture, they would have been ticketed. As it was this image appeared on the front page of the Daily Interlake where I had hoped for an embarrassment factor.

But the events of just two day ago were different. The man was doing nothing wrong although the park strongly suggests that visitors not hike alone. It’s assumed that several people hiking together have less risk of surprising a bear. Simply put: more people make more noise.

Nevertheless, the man was alone — but did exactly what he should have done. He was carrying bear spray and he managed to keep his head and deploy the spray, a gaseous substance laced with oleoresin capsicum, a very harsh form of red pepper.

Conclusion? Bear Spray works!


————-


THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

West Point’s Historic Cemetery — Where our Parents now Rest


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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Blood Moon

posted: September 28th, 2015 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Last night the sun, the Earth and the moon lined up in a row creating a celestial performance that is for most a once in a lifetime event.

It was the first such display since the year 1982, and we’re told it won’t occur again until 2033. It’s unique for most because you must have appropriate conditions to experience – and to enjoy – the event, and last night in Bigfork, Montana, we had those conditions. There was no lingering smoke from fires, and the skies were completely cloudless. Moreover, it seemed as though there was little human activity, suggesting that many were absorbed by the cosmos. It was also cool, and the combination of conditions added to the clarity of the major players.

BloodMoon-2 BloodMoon-4 BloodMoon-3


Images from Bigfork, Montana of last night’s celestial phenomena:  the Blood Moon.


From the vantage of our porch, the moon appeared huge and there was a reason, for the moon was closer to the earth than in any other time in its orbit. We also knew from reading that as the eclipse intensified the moon would assume a rusty-red-orange generating the name “blood moon.” The colors existed because the shadow wasn’t perfect and because “faint sunbeams sneak around Earth’s edges on all sides [assuming] the color of a sunset.”

But those are explanations you can pull from the internet as well as all the predictions associated with this grand celestial occurrence, such as a decline in the stock market, thoughts that we’ll all go crazy, and end of the world prognostications.

But Janie and I are still here and this morning are marveling that we were able to witness this rare phenomena — created by three spheres separated by millions of miles.



———


THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

Organ Act of the NPS


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 »