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

Glacier National Park is 100! Its Existence Has Impacted Many

©Bert Gildart: One hundred years ago, today, 1.1 million acres in the northwest part of Montana was set aside as the nation’s 10th national park. Like all young college people, many features combine to influence my life, but none had more of an impact on me than this wild country we now call Glacier National Park.


Mountain Goat at Gunsight Pass back dropped by Lake Ellen Wilson


For me it all began in 1961 in Washington, D.C., where I waved good bye to my aunt and uncle — who literally and figuratively pointed the way — and boarded a Greyhound bus. Three long days and nights later I arrived in Great Falls, Montana,  where I found a run-down hotel adjacent to a raucous bar. I was impressed but exhausted, and without the movement of the huge bus fell asleep before I could muster the energy to investigate the mysteries behind dark curtains and neon lights.


Next day, I boarded a local bus and was overwhelmed as it ascended from the trough channeling the Missouri River to the top of a steep butte — where I soon sat stunned by my first real view of the Rocky Mountains, still clad in winter snow. Behind me sat two elderly Indian men, speaking in their native language. They were bound for the nearby Blackfeet Indian Reservation and the combination of Indians and rugged mountains seemed to posses the  potential for raw adventure — and that is what I craved.

Five hours later the bus pulled into West Glacier and so began what has become a life-long passion for this land born out of the chaos of great tectonic forces.


FOR LARGER RENDITION, CLICK ON EACH IMAGE. L To R: Going to Sun Mountain, David Gildart hiking by mountain goats, Granite Park Chalet, Chief Earl Old Person renaming Trick Falls as Running Eagle Falls.

For a number of years I worked in the park on the eradication of white pine blister rust. As well, new friends and I hiked many of the back country trails and here is where my experiences began to mount. In fact, the experiences were so influential that I returned to college after a prolonged hiatus, enrolling at Montana State University. However, I always continued with my summer work in Glacier National Park.

During these first few summers, I made marathon hikes and recall that during my first summer I got lost. Another summer I climbed Chief Mountain and, then, just weeks later, climbed another prominent one known as Heaven’s Peak. I did so with Ken Price (now a high school principle in Helena, Montana) and David Wilson, and if Wilson is still alive, his life may have been altered more than any other person to work in  Glacier.


Essentially, David was a loner, and the very next weekend he climbed Going-to-the-Sun Mountain (just above on left) alone, but after that, he was never heard from again. We know Wilson reached the top as he signed the register, but then, nothing! The park conducted a thorough search organized and lead by Bob Frauson, a former 10th Mountain Ranger. At the time of the search Bob had become a district ranger in Glacier and I remember that he spaced us out in a way that enabled us to scour the woodlands. Again, nothing. And then an expert mountain-climbing group combed the entire climbable  route (and fringe route too) but again, nothing.

Later, Bob researched David’s background and expressed thoughts that there was much about his makeup that might have prompted him to stage a grand disappearance, something friends who know him also thought plausible. If that is the case, I liken him to Christopher McCandeless (AKA as Alexander Supertramp) who rejected his family by going “Into The Wild.” But unlike Supertramp who died in a school bus in Alaska, hope exists that David’s life did not end tragically. Perhaps, he’s somewhere in South America. At any rate, no trace has ever been found of David Wilson.


As the years went by I applied for seasonal work in Glacier as a ranger and continued with my love of exploring the park’s wilderness trails. As part of my work I fought fire, worked on bear management, gave tickets, endured the historic flood of 1964, introduced my children to the park’s backcountry, and continued my explorations of this incredible park. The adventures mounted and subsequently paved the way for a life in newspaper and magazine work as an outdoor writer and photographer. Later, my interest in Glacier evolved to the point where I became interested in all of America’s national parks, which Janie and I now explore at length.


FOR LARGER VERSION CLICK ON EACH IMAGE.  L to R: Mountain goat kids at Logan Pass, Chief Mountain, hiking to Grinnell Glacier, grizzly bear on trail to Iceberg Lake.

Others, I know, can also tell  stories of life-altering changes, but  what many of us share in common is that it all began with Glacier. That’s something many may be recalling today. Possibly they’ll be doing so throughout the country, but for sure at park headquarters in the conference center. Day’s events will began with opening comments by Superintendent Charles Cartwright and will run through the afternoon. I’ll be attending, and perhaps I’ll run into some of my own buddies and learn more about what changes this magnificent park have wrought.




*National Bison Range Celebrates 100 Years


2 Responses to “Glacier National Park is 100! Its Existence Has Impacted Many”

  1. Rich Charpentier Says:

    Happy 100! I’ve been to Glacier twice in my life. I hope to visit a few more times.

    Bert, you live in an amazing place. Of course, Arizona isn’t too bad either. I’ll be in White Pocket in a week and a half in case you feel like coming along! :)

  2. History Safari Express » Blog Archive » Bert Gildart’s art Says:

    [...] got it down to a science, and it comes out as iconic art.  Former back-country ranger in Glacier National Park, writer/outdoor photographer/Airstreamer Bert Gildart has been providing spectacular photos and [...]