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

Lewis & Clark Caverns, Montana’s First State Park

©Bert Gildart: Almost the moment we stepped onto a stone stairway that would take us deeper into the Lewis and Clark Caverns, the lights went out.  Few had head lamps, so our descent was spooky. Janie and I both grabbed hard to the railing, and tried to maintain our balance as we descended the slippery stairs.

Laurie Koepplin, our tour guide and an employee for the Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks, joked, explaining we were experiencing conditions similar to two ranchers who saw the caverns in 1892.  “Imagine,” she suggested, “that all you had was candlelight.”


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Deep in Lewis and Clark Caverns

 


Though most found the conditions intriguing, the slippery rock and tight space concerned one individual who elected to turn around. Coincidentally, we had reached “Decision Rock,” a point at which guides customarily  ask visitors if they’re apprehensive.  “Everyone OK?” queried Koepplin.  “Nothing to be ashamed of. You’ll get a full refund if you need to go back.” Despite the darkness only one person turned back.

ADVENTURE IN THE DARK

Our adventure in the dark was short lived, and soon power was restored.  Picking up from her introduction, which included information about the Townsend Big Eared Bats flying overhead, Laurie explained that though Lewis and Clark passed nearby, they never mentioned the caverns in their journals.  “Most likely,” she said, “it’s because they never saw them.”


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Though Indians knew of the caverns, the two ranchers became aware of them during a November hunting trip.  Cold air had flushed out the warm air, creating a funnel of steam that stirred the men’s curiosity.  No such funnel occurred in the summer when Lewis and Clark passed through the area.  What’s more the “discovery tunnel” is small and is located at a relatively high elevation, making the caverns unique.  “Most caverns,” said Koepplin, “are down lower and tend to run more horizontally than do these.”

MONTANA’S FIRST STATE PARK

Eventually entrepreneurs began offering tours into the caverns, but in 1908, the federal government assumed management, and then, in 1935, the caverns became Montana’s first state park.  As a state park, sophisticated tours developed — similar to the one we joined yesterday.


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Darci and Rob Smith of Kansas ascend into a main cavern

 

Our tour was several hours long and as we continued our descent, the formations seemed to become more and more spectacular.  As we progressed, Koepplin pointed out stalactites and stalagmites — those pointed columns of rock that either ascend or descend vertically.  We saw ponds of water refracting colors that appeared brilliant in the artificial lighting, and we saw formations that appeared like popcorn, flowstone and “cave bacon.”

Though the caverns are the main attraction of the park, other features exist, and we have signed up for several nights of camping. We want to hike the park’s trails, and watch as lighting dramatizes the beautiful Jefferson River, up which Lewis and Clark traveled so many years ago.


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THIS TIME THREE YEARS AGO:

*Global Warming

 

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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