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

Illegal Aliens? Our Encounter was Unnerving

©Bert Gildart:  With a look of great concern, Janie suddenly stopped, turned and tried to make hidden pointing gestures.   “There’s a man,” she whispered.    “A Mexican and he’s carrying a backpack.  I think I hear more.  I think we’re in trouble.”

Searching for a parallel experience I don’t believe I’ve seen my wife quite so upset since running into two grizzly bears in Glacier National Park.

AlamoCanyon (1 of 6)

Written in English, Spanish and a local Native American tongue, this is one of many signs alerting visitors to the presence of illegal aliens.


At the moment Janie and I were hiking Alamo Canyon in Organ Pipe National Monument and I had stopped to take a few photographs.  We had completed the goal of our hike which was to follow a one mile long trail to an old homestead used by rancher Birdie Del Miller before creation of the park in 1937.  The old brick structure was about eight miles from the Mexican border and before striking out we had seen a sign near the trailhead (also the Alamo primitive campground) explaining that if we need help we should “push the red button.”  Continuing the sign exclaimed:

“Rescue personnel will arrive shortly to help you. 
Do not leave the area.”

And now I must confess that I too was unnerved, and quickly gathered up my camera gear, joined Janie and began marching out.  Simultaneously we watched the brush along the south side of the wash and again, about 30 yards away we saw the man, as well as the movement of others..  Apparently he didn’t want us to see any more of him, for he began sneaking through the brush.  But we continued to see him, and we saw the constant movement of the brush.  Suddenly, I remembered I’d left my $75 trekking pole, and explained that I needed to run back, quickly  and get it.

“If you do,” said Janie trying to be serious, “I’ll shoot you!”

AlamoCanyon (6 of 6) AlamoCanyon (3 of 6) AlamoCanyon (2 of 6)


L to R:  Three miles on a dirt road to the trailhead into Alamo Canyon; unusual growth of organ pipe along trail; one trail mile to the  old brick home of
Birdie Del Miller, where Janie spotted an illegal Mexican.

An hour later we reported our experience to headquarters, something park officials ask everyone to do when they encounter illegals.  But as we talked with the ranger we began to get the feeling that we were filing a wildlife report, similar, let’s say, to seeing a wolverine in Glacier, which is just a little more than routine.  I also explained that I had left my trekking pole at the rock shelter and said I was going back to get it.

“Your call,” said the ranger – and that set into motion yet another experience about illegals that now has me thinking.

Yes, I retrieved my pole, and when returning to the trailhead I encountered a camper from Nebraska who said that only yesterday he had encountered an illegal Mexican immigrant who was about 20 years old.  Mr. Nebraska said the young man was starving, out of water and needed help.  “That,” said the farmer from Nebraska, “is when we sat him down and fed him.  Then, following his insistence, we pushed the red button, which quickly brought in the Border Patrol.”

And now I’ve got to wonder:  Are we making too much of the danger imposed by these “undocumented immigrants?”  No visitor has ever been hurt.

Most of the illegals must  come from desperate financial situations and are simply looking for a better way of life.  To stop such traffic (and it must be stopped because the park is suffering!)  the solution may be to impose heavy fines on the farmers, ranchers – business people – who hire these illegals – or consider legalizing marijuana, the other reason that illegals risk the hardships of crossing our border.



*The Dry Tortugas



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. Sometimes the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

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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.

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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

2 Responses to “Illegal Aliens? Our Encounter was Unnerving”

  1. Larry Says:

    Thank goodness you are you are safe. Your encounter was terrifying and apparently has led to further personal investigation into the complexities of the park’s problem dealing the drug cartels.

    Recognizing the human side of the undocumented immigrant situration from professionals and testimonies of encounters by American citizens helps to put the need for immigration reform into proper perspective. Once in the USA, these undocumented immigrants become the invisible indentured servants to businesses, and the wealthy, e.g., Meg Whitman, former CEO of E-Bay, Pete Wilson, former San Diego Mayor and California Governor, and Governor Mitt Romney. With time, they have replaced the American white migrant farm workers of the “Depression” as written about in “Grapes of Wrath”, as the later generations of that group became educated and sought a better life.

    While attending community college in the 1960s, where there was no tuition, I met a bright young man who only earned “A”s. His parents were White migrant farm workers. I had read “Grapes of Wrath” and could identify with him and his background and a migrant, as my father, an American of Chinese descent, was a truck driver for a produce company. We were lucky to have the opportunity to get a higher education and therefore better our lives and contribute to the strength and diversity of the USA.

    Your quote from Mark Twain about travels says it all.

    Wishing you safe travels and jolly good time,

  2. Tom & Sandi Palesch Says:

    Bert, you have to stay close to Janie. She is your canary, your bird dog, your companiero who spots trouble ahead for you whether it be scorpions of drug runners. I bet she has done the same for you where grizzlies or gang bangers were involved too. Amongst many other attributes she has great eyes and ears!

    You commentary about illegals are well taken and I am sure spot-on. Since the problem can only solved politically I’m not too hopeful. I think politicians find it easier to punish their constituency be closing portions of national parks than to fine or penalize their contributors or “rain makers.” But then again, I’m a cynic!

    Be careful out there and Keep Janie close at hand.