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

Life Around Harper Cabin Brought Alive By Retired Superintendent Mark Jorgensen

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Retired superintendent Mark Jorgensen explains the phenomenal growth spurt of the agave

©Bert Gildart: This past weekend the Anza-Borrego Foundation provided an all-day excursion to Harper Cabin as its “Hike of the Month”. Since we’ve been here I’ve tried to take in as many of the seminars the park offers, but I particularly wanted to take in this one, specifically because retired superintendent Mark Jorgensen was leading the hike.

Without a doubt Mark knows more about the Anza Borrego Desert than anyone. Before accepting the position as superintendent, he worked as one of the park’s rangers. As well, Mark sat on several prestigious bighorn sheep councils, and that is why I sought him out about 12 years ago. At that time Mark helped me with several chapters in my book about Mountain Monarchs, Bighorn Sheep, and so I wanted to renew acquaintance.

SURPRISE START

The gathering started with a surprise. Since arriving in Anza Borrego I’ve been following Bob Baran’s blog, which is about this state park. Months ago we agreed to provide links to one another’s posts, so it was a wonderful surprise to find that Bob was among the 23 hikers. When the group was all assembled at Tamarask Campground, somehow we both recognized one another immediately. His posting about our trip shows some wonderful images, particularly of the cabin and the area in which the Harper Brothers once lived.

From Tamarask Campground we made the short drive to  Pinyon Wash. We then followed a “jeep” trail for about five miles to the trailhead.  Then we began our hike.

Our destination was the cabin built by the Harper brothers about 1920, where they had discovered a large, gently sloping flat that could be used for grazing cattle. Upon reaching the cabin we learned that little remains of their attempts — other than a multi-level dam and their cabin. The brother’s efforts to retain water with the two dams soon met disaster for sand quickly filled them. Then, their cattle contracted anthrax.

Unfortunately, the anthrax may also have affected the area’s bighorn sheep population. Mark said that because water had been so drastically diverted the park recently installed several water tanks to help the sheep. Under the circumstances, installation of the water tanks was justified.

LITTLE REMAINS

Mark led us directly to the cabin and we discovered that little remained of what had once been a one-room 15- x 12-foot home. Originally, the top and front were made from corrugated iron. Agave stalks supported the roof.

Though it was fascinating to relive the struggles of the Harper Brothers, much of my interests concerned the area’s natural history. Along the way we stopped at an agave plant that had just put on a phenomenal spurt of growth. In a period of but two weeks, the stalk of the agave had soared about 12 feet. Soon, blossoms will cap the stalk, representing the end of a long life, which is why agave is also known as the century plant.


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HIKE TO HARPER CANYON THREAD THROUGH NARROW CANYONS; MARK JORGENSEN AND BOB BARAN, THE LATTER OF WHOM I’VE GOTTEN TO KNOW THROUGH THE SHARING OF BLOGS

We also stopped at an ancient Indian village and as we cast around we found morteros, metates and old pottery shards. Mark showed us one of the shards but then returned the tiny piece to the spot from which he had taken it.

HIGHLIGHTS

Though the trip was exceptional, for me the highlight always seems to be the meeting of all the interesting people who invariably sign up for such adventures. All were natural history and history enthusiasts and it was fun to share thoughts.


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HIKE ALSO LEAD TO AN INDIAN VILLAGE WHERE WE EXAMINED MORTAROS; ULTIMATELY THE HIKE LEAD TO THE HARPER BROTHERS CABIN.

 

Once more it was instructive to join Mark. It was fun meeting Bob Baran and sharing  a few thoughts about blogging — all backdropped by the incredible desert provided by Anza Borrego Desert State Park.


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THIS TIME TWO YEARS AGO:

Star Light Star Bright — Night Photography at Organ Pipe


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







One Response to “Life Around Harper Cabin Brought Alive By Retired Superintendent Mark Jorgensen”

  1. Bob Baran Says:

    Hey Bert,
    Awesome post on the Harper Canyon Hike. You make me want to rewrite my account of the day since you describe it a lot better than me. :)
    I did a day trip out yesterday to find the pictographs in Carrizo Gorge. The flowers were incredible in the southern end.
    I posted a couple flower pics and will try to do a quick write-up of my trip down Carrizo Gorge.
    I think this next couple of weeks will be great out there.

    Best,
    Bob

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