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

Archive for March, 2013

Ocotillo — Not Only Beautiful but Biologically Fascinating

posted: March 28th, 2013 | by:Bert


Bert Gildart:  Spring in the desert can be a glorious time, particularly when the season is associated with fall and winter rains.  When such conditions prevail, spring flowers sometimes carpet the sands.

Though it does not appear Borrego Springs will be lush with flowers this year, nevertheless, cacti of various species are dotting the valley with reds and yellows.  Coyote Canyon, for instance,  is lush with sand verbena and with the red of the ocotillo plant.  Ocotillo is one of my favorite species (and I’ve reported on it before), in part because it has such a fascinating biology.


Cacti-41

Ocotillo

 

Following rains, leaves sprout, and then if the grounds remain damp, red flowers begin to emerge.  Such is the situation now, but if there is a prolonged dry spell the plant will protect itself by shedding its small leaves. Nevertheless the Ocotillo can perform photosynthesis during dry spells.

Hummingbirds pollinate the ocotillo because they like the honey nectar it produces. They feed on the flowers during their travel north from Mexico to the mountains of the Western US.

I took this photograph about three days ago but have noticed that just a few days later parts of this desert are literally alive with the ocotillo.

You’ll note the black background and that was achieved using two electronic flash units and setting the strobes so they would overpower the existing daylight.  Exposure for the strobes were manually set for a shutter speed of 250th of a second and an aperture of f-32.  Exposure without the strobes would have been about 125th of a second with an aperture of about f-11.  If you understand basic lighting you’ll understand light from the strobes was so bright that the sun simply could not compete, hence the black background.

Lots of other flowers will soon be blooming and as they emerge I’ll try and provide some basic information.


———————————————

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

*Vultures at Sunrise


———————————————

 

 

 

 

BOOKS FOR SALE:

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 »

Salton Sea – Not Always a “Crown Jewel”

posted: March 24th, 2013 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Last night Adam, Sue, Janie and I made a 30-minute drive from our campsite in California’s Anza Borrego Desert State Park to the Salton Sea.  It’s now famous because of its low elevation, its high salinity, its vast numbers of birds – and because it was created by a massive environmental mishap.

More on the disaster in a moment, but first I want to say that the conditions creating the disaster occurred over 100 years ago, and because they are here to stay, all of us accepted the situation and began enjoying the features for which it is now famous.


SaltonSea-40

Created by an environmental mishap over 100 years ago, the Salton Sea is now a "Crown Jewel of Avian Diversity." It is shallow and has a exceptionally high salt content.

 


For us, that was the presence of the Sea’s thousands of birds, most notably the white pelicans.

THE LAP OF LUXURY

But there are sophisticated ways to enjoy such natural history luxuries, and we began in a way that is both tried and true.

We began by setting up chairs, pulling out a Coleman Camp table on which we cut cheese and filled our goblets (nothing but the best for we connoisseurs) with wine.  Temperatures were in the mid 80s and the mountains around us were assuming a distinct red glow.

Adam sliced a huge watermelon into edible chunks and we then sat back to watch the sun as it descended into the mountains behind us.  We attempted to count the thousands of birds that dotted the lake.  Here and there numbers were dramatic and flocks of white pelicans must have numbered over 200.  In turn the flocks were surrounded by Ibis, willets and sanderlings, pecking the sand for morsels of food.

A “CROWN JEWEL”

In fact, The Salton Sea has been termed a “crown jewel of avian biodiversity”, hosting over 400 species.  Research later informed me that Salton Sea supports 30% of the remaining population of the American white pelican.  Interestingly white pelicans nest in Montana, and Janie and I wondered if these groups were making their way north.


SaltonSea-41 SaltonSea-42 SaltonSea-43



L to R:  Salton Sea attracts 30 percent of America’s white pelicans.  It also attracts over 300 other avian species.  White pelicans gather
to continue migration north, perhaps even to Montana.



That’s the way it is now, but still, a mishap did occur, and it is one from which lessons can be drawn.

DISASTER

Disaster began back in 1900 when the California Development Company began a series of water diversion projects, intended to funnel water from the Colorado River into the Salton Sink, which at the time was a dry lake bed. The hope was to help farmers, and for a while the project worked. Farmers planted crops and watered them with now-available water.  But then, just two years later, massive amounts of silt began to fill the Imperial Canal.

In 1905, heavy rainfall and snowmelt swelled the Colorado River, and flood waters soon poured down the canal and breached an Imperial Valley dike – because of the silt, which had elevated the waters.  Disaster followed disaster and in yet another two years continuous flood waters eventually carried the entire volume of the Colorado River into the Salton Sink, creating an irredeemable sea.

Today, the Salton Sea — as this de facto lake is now called – is California’s largest lake.  It also has the distinction of occupying the lowest elevations of the Salton Sink, which approach the record low elevations in Death Valley.  Surface waters lie 226 feet below sea level.

HIGH SALINITY

Because of a high rate of evaporation, sediments accumulate rapidly and the Salton Sea measures 44 44 g/L, which is greater than that of the waters of the Pacific Ocean.

All of those facts are interesting and fascinating features surround this sea to include The Slabs and Anza Borrego Desert State Park.  But the lake is an attraction in itself, and because it hosts so many species of birds, it is an attraction that will certainly continue to draw Janie and me – and hopefully Adam and Sue, who are connoisseurs of fine wine and fascinated by natural history.  And Adam certainly knows how to cut cheese and create acceptable portions of watermelon.


———————


THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

*Vista del Malpis


—————–

 

 




BOOKS FOR SALE:

 

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 »

Elephant Knees, Pictographs – and the Ancient Tracks of a Gomphothere

posted: March 20th, 2013 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  Sometime in the past, perhaps one to two million years ago, an elephant like animal (known as a Gomphothere) walked across a mud flat in what is now California’s Anza Borrego Desert State Park. The mud was soft and when the huge animal stepped it left a large, defined print that was soon acted upon by yet more mud, but this time of a different consistency.

Perhaps a flash flood carried this new source of “fill” mud, but however it got to the point at which I was looking, the mud filled the deep print then hardened. And so it remained through the eons.


SplitMountain-2

Park Naturalist (volunteer) Tony Feather showing me a series of ancient pictographs.

 


Slowly, however, the forces of erosion acted on the soft mud around the hard mud and the “case” began to dissolve, waiting for Tony Feather, a volunteer park naturalist and accomplished musician, to show me.  He trusted me not to define the location, though I can say that we traveled for miles up the Split Mountain Road, stopping at last to hike a remote canyon.  The “inverted” print blew my mind because not only did we see ancient prints of the Gomphothere, but also and immediately above the huge elephant track – tracks of an ancient cat.


SplitMountain-6 SplitMountain-5 SplitMountain-1

 

 

L to R:  Cross lighting reveals geological features popularly known as “Elephant knees”;  tracks created millions of years ago by
a Gomphothere and — just above it — by an ancient cat; ghost flower, now blooming in certain washes.

(Click to enlarge)


The day was made yet more interesting when Tony pointed out ancient pictographs and a ghost plant.  The contrast-y lighting also made a feature near Wind Caves (also reached during our drive) stand out, and that was a row of what locals call elephant knees.  The size is the basis for their name.

Anza Borrego Desert State Park continues to amaze and surprise me and I am grateful to Tony Feather for sharing this amazing information.


—————————————-

THIS TIME LAST YEAR

*Exploring Anza Borrego with Life Long Friends (retired ranger David Shea)


———————————–



 

 

 

BOOKS FOR SALE:

 

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 »

San Diego’s World Famous Zoo. Is it the Nation’s Best?

posted: March 18th, 2013 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  Last week Janie and I made a speedy three-day trip to San Diego essentially to see our good friends Don and Nancy, whom we met about six years ago. We left our Airstream parked at our site in Springs at Borrego, drove two hours, checked into a motel at Chula Vista and then drove one more mile to where Don and Nancy were camped in their Airstream.

To look at Don you wouldn’t know he has been fighting cancer for almost a decade.  Don has a full crop of Irish red-blonde  hair and he is in excellent physical shape.  He jogs, hikes, climbs mountains – and most recently, led (along with his wife Nancy) Janie and me on a full, day-long excursion through the world-renowned San Diego Zoo.  And that, folks, is the subject of this posting, not Don’s incredible demeanor and resilience — or his excellent physical shape, despite a chronological age that surely must getting close to mine.  (I’m staying the same!)

MOST GOOD IMAGES IN A SINGLE DAY!

At the outset I want to say that  seldom have I augmented my photo library to the extent I did during our single-day eight-hour visit. And that is because of the incredible displays zoo keepers provide at their 100-acre tract of land.  Here, managers exhibit over 3,700 animals.


SanDiegoZoo-20

San Diego grizzly bear, showing reasons the species is so formidable. This particular bear was transported from Montana where it had been plaguing campers. The choice was to euthanize or move to zoo.



First to attract our attention was the flamingo exhibit, logically as it was located near the zoo’s entrance.   We were charmed by the species’s beautiful orange-red color but also by their behavior antics, which included displacement, aggression and warning gestures, the latter of which were created when the birds  extended their necks. — fully!

Like everyone else, we wanted to see the pandas, and specifically, we wanted to see Xiao Liwu (meaning “little gift”).  Five others have been born in the zoo, several of which were shipped to China to assist in its breeding program.

Xiao Liwu – OR “LITTLE GIFT”

Little Gift was born on July 29th, 2012 and was first let outside for visitors to see on January 9, 2013.  In addition to being able to view this rare animal species, the zoo’s “Giant Panda Discovery Center” has interactive exhibits that let visitors experience just how the animals smell and sound.


SanDiegoZoo-23 SanDiegoZoo-30 SanDiegoZoo-22


L to R: Flamingos exhibiting group behavior; cormorants nesting; more flamingos, again displaying what may be a warning gesture.


Of course photography is dependent on activities at the moment you visit, meaning that you’ll need more than just a single day to document a species’ behavior.  Our challenge was great as we wanted to see everything, meaning as Don said, that you’ll have to come back.  Nevertheless because the zoo has created various types of aviaries we saw dozens of tropical birds and many colorful birds from other habitats including the tinkerbirds and the sociable weaver.  Outside the aviaries we also saw (in addition to the flamingos) cormorants and a bird migratory harlequin, which migrants to Glacier National Park, where we first met Don and Nancy — hiking the Highline.

THE WORLD’S BEST

Energetic as ever, Don insisted we see everything we could squeeze in and before the day was over we had seen various species of bears (I have a personal interest, shamelessly linked here to national coverage — Night of the Grizzly), hiked the monkey trail, seen the polar bear plunge, made the elephant walk, visited the exhibit known as “Absolutely Aps, “visited” the Australian Outback… seen the bonobos.

SanDiegoZoo-40 SanDiegoZoo-32 SanDiegoZoo-1


L to R: Sadly as this naturalist explains, the world’s cats are diminishing.

Middle image is one taken along the “Monkey Walk” and represents my SON-IN-LAW.  Will is a reasonably intelligent man, but he is seen here 
contemplating the  zoo’s repeat message and display that THE WORLD COULD ACTUALLY BE WARMING — and that MAN could be influencing that warming.

Last image: Xiao Liwu – OR, “LITTLE GIFT,” perhaps the zoo’s most popular attraction. 

 

We’d also listened to talks on global warming in which they quote world famous climatologists, noting the world is warming because carbon in the atmosphere is increasing at never-before experienced rates. Their exhibit is convincing – and retired college professor Don Dennis knew we’d enjoy seeing THAT exhibit. I trust my son-in-law (shown just above — Ha!) will too.

Our only disappointment is that we needed more time, but as Don said, “you’ll have to come back.”


SanDiegoZoo-14

Maintaining welfare of zoo animals necessitates skilled professionals. Here, caretaker cleans hooves of an elephant.

 

We hope to do just that, because, yes, we do believe (We’ve seen dozens, to include the National Zoo in D.C.) that the San Diego Zoo may certainly be among the world’s best — if not actually the world’s best.


————————

 

THIS TIME LAST YEAR


*Burrowing Owls & Bizarre Nests Needed to Survive


————————-

 

 

 

BOOKS FOR SALE:

 

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 »

Is Salvation Mountain (And The Slabs!) — A National Treasure?

posted: March 16th, 2013 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Last year Time Magazine described a funky area of southeastern California famously — and infamously –  known as The Slabs.  Writers there  called it “…a squatter’s camp deep in the badlands of California’s poorest county where the road ends and the sun reigns.”  They said [It] “attracts fugitives of all stripes, [who] demand that prospective residents respect their neighbor ‘or stay the hell away’.”


Slabs-12

Salvation Mountain -- and Leonard Knight's old home -- provide an entree to "The Slabs."

 

By implication the story seems to imply that residents are a cloistered group of life’s survivors, but that is not the impression we’ve gotten over the years, and this past weekend was no exception.  True, there are souls inhabiting the area who are not perfectly balanced; but there is also a group who seem willing to pick up the pieces and help everyone move forward.  Consider, as examples, Solar Mike, Radio Mike, Fireman Peter, and Leonard Knight.

OUR FIRST VISIT

About five years ago Janie and I made our first of many trips to The Slabs, an expanse of hard scrabble desert land which takes its name from an abandoned military base featuring concrete slabs on which the Marines mounted artillery  .  Initially, we went there to conduct business with “Solar Mike,” the Guru of solar energy.  We stayed a week and during that time Mike outfitted our Airstream with panels, inverters and batteries so that we could boondock  as long as we might want — anywhere, of course, where there was sun.


Slabs-15 Slabs-14 Slabs-10

 

“Fireman” Peter enters “The Range,” location for Saturday night dances; sign declaring that
you have, in fact, reached “Slab City;” Leonard Knight’s religious art work. (Click images to enlarge.)


But Solar Mike is not the first person you’ll most likely meet on the rutted road to Slab City.  Backtrack about a mile and here is where you’ll satisfy your curiosity about a hill featuring a kaleidoscope of colors.  Known as Salvation Mountain,  Leonard Knight built the hill with his own two hands.

THE MAN HAD A VISION

Most will agree the man had a vision, but of greater significance is that he found purpose to his life and then stuck to his objective.  He built a hill that expresses his transformation from that of  a “sinful man” to one who now inspires others, and he does so in various ways.

Several years ago Knight befriended “Alexander Supertramp” just months before this drifter perished in a remote Alaskan school bus.  “Supertramp’s real name was Christopher McCandless and he was featured in John Krakauer’s book Into the Wild, later made into a movie.

A NATIONAL TREASURE

Knight’s creation is so unique that Senator  Barbara Boxer declared Salvation Mountain a “National Treasure.”  Sadly, age has outpaced Knight’s sturdy frame and the 80-plus year old man is now in a nursing home, but Dan, Samuel and Builder Bill are determined Salvation Mountain will provide an enduring legacy.  The three now head a committee devoted to the preservation of Salvation Mountain, and indeed, they are not shy about getting their own hands dirty.  Preservation Director Dan Westfall (see below) says that Knight is expected to visit this spring following  cataract surgery.


Slabs-6 Slabs-18 Slabs-9


L to R:  Almost to the Slabs; Kim Olson, restoring roof and generally helping to restore
library; Dan Westfall, Samuel Farrell, Builder Bill.
(Click images to enlarge.)


The disheartening news from The Slabs concerns the library, destroyed, as “Fireman Peter” says, by a man who “went mental.”  Translated, the man (whom everyone knows) burned a community creation that was years in the making.  But here enter Kim, Amy, and several others who are now devoting “free time” to restoring this treasured resource – the community library.  Donations are welcome and those can take the form of discarded books.  We met the pair when they were perched on ladders, pounding nails, trying to recreate order from havoc.

A WILL OF STEEL

The last person on my list is Radio Mike, an Airstreamer whom we first meet several years ago in Ohio.  Mike has a will forged from steel, and proved it last summer following a motorcycle accident in which he broke his tibia and fibula and several bones in his foot. Local medical practitioners applied a temporary cast, enabling him to direct a host of helpful friends in the Slabs to safeguard his Airstream and other belongings.


Slabs-19

Michael Depraida, artist at large

 


Three days later he limped aboard a plane and flew to a hospital in New York near his sisters where he underwent reconstructive surgery.  Now recovered, “Radio Mike” is back where he wants to be – in The Slabs, entertaining friends, selling his various art creations as “Tee Shirt Mike,” and operating an FM radio station for community edification.

EAST OF JESUS

Because The Slabs may be an end of the road for some, a transitory community for others, an independent community where many demand a laissez faire life style, it nevertheless remains one where positive efforts generally dominate.  (We’re waiting to see what becomes of an offshoot assemblage now calling their artistic manifestations “East of Jesus.” Some of the graffiti is exceptional! )

Radio Mike at the Slabs

Radio Mike and Chantal, Nitchi, and Karine

 

Locally known as “Radio Mike” and Tee-shirt Mike,” 
fans (Chantal, Nitchi, and Karine — all from Quebec ) are drawn to his Airstream curious to learn just how this man does so well in one of the most obscure parts of America.


In this way The Slabs seem typical of most other American communities in that The Slabs also attracts a majority who have a sense of compassion and drive to make things work – but make them work on their own terms.

Or so it seems that way to Janie and to me.


—————————————–

THIS TIME FOUR YEARS AGO

*Amaragosa Oprera House


—————————————–

 

 

 

 

 

BOOKS FOR SALE:

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 »

Live Each Day to the Fullest

posted: March 12th, 2013 | by:Bert

CarrizoGorge-40

Goat Canyon Trestle, through Carrizo Gorge

©Bert Gildart:  I had hoped to post a more substantial blog but Janie and I are rushing off to see a friend in San Diego who has a few medical issues we hope will soon improve.  Our friend epitomizes bravery in the face of adversity.

We’ll be back this Friday, at which time I’ll be making a substantial post about several recent trips that were absolutely fantastic.


CarrizoGorge-48 CarrizoGorge-47 CarrizoGorge-41

Solar windmills flank the southern part of Anza Borrego Desert State Park; grove of palm trees along route to Goat Canyon Trestle; bikes rest back dropped by freight cars once
used for movie, now in final resting spot.


In the meantime, enjoy these images which were made several days ago on a mountain bike trip through Carizzo Gorge.  They are intended to complement images from my last posting.     The one exception is the image of the solar windmills, which flank the southern part of Anza Borrego Desert State Park.  Everything, of course, is in the eye of the beholder, but to many the windmills are an eyesore.

So where ever you are, get out and enjoy the day – and live it as fully as you can live it.


———————————–



THIS TIME THREE YEARS AGO:

Chiricahua-land-of-standing-up-rocks


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 »

The Impossible Railroad

posted: March 7th, 2013 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  Yesterday, Photographer Ron Niebrugge and I biked about six miles from the Indian Hill Trailhead to a point known as the Goat Canyon Trestle.  We followed a railroad work path that paralleled a set of historic tracks and railroad line. Our route took us through dark tunnels, over lofty trestles and along a path that was sometimes strewn with rocks and railroad ties that we had to  “leap.”

Our destination, Goat Canyon Trestle, was built in 1932 after an earthquake collapsed one of the tunnels of the Carrizo Gorge section of the San Diego and Arizona Railway. At 200 feet tall and 750 feet long, Goat Canyon Trestle remains the longest, tallest curved wooden trestle ever built in the United States.  Impressive as it may be, the route came to be known as the “Impossible Railroad.”


Carrizo Gorge

Longest, tallest curved wooden trestle ever built in the United States. But it is remote!

 

For years the trestle has been a popular destination for both hikers and bikers.  It is popular because movie scenes have been filmed here, meaning Carrizo Gorge has to be spectacular.  Nevertheless, the railroad company has at times imposed travel restrictions, though I’ve had difficulty determining what those might be today.

Prior to our departure I found that in 2008 Railroad Police had posted an internet “trespass notice.” But in the interim the route has been much traveled, so it wasn’t until we reached Goat Canyon that I finally saw a “No Trespass” sign, and it was riddled with bullet holes.

WHY BIKE?

People such as Ron and I bike to such areas for the scenic rewards and for the area’s interesting history.  If indeed the area is closed, it should be opened as it provides access to some of the desert’s most beautiful scenery.


Carrizo Gorge Railroad No Tresspass Sign Wrecked Freight Train Cars Carrizo Gorge Tunnel Carrizo Gorge Trestle


L TO R:  Sign near one of trestles in Carrizo Gorge (Hard to read isn’t it??);  final resting spot for freight cars that “jumped” tracks; biker passing through tunnel; bike rider crossing grating of trestle.


That said, we also concluded the Railroad had reasons they might want to exempt themselves from mishap.

To access the trestle you must pass through magnificent Carrizo Gorge, but in places steep terrain abuts the path, meaning the slightest mis-turn of your handle bars could propel you on a most unpleasant journey.  In such places, I dismounted and found a secure detour by walking the railroad tracks.

TUNNELS AND TRESTLES

As we rode we passed through four tunnels and an equal number of trestles.  Obviously the trestles provided a route for trains but they also provided a route for us.  And here’s another place bikers need to pay attention.  Wire grating flanks the railroad tracks and though the grating measures four feet and is certainly wide enough to accommodate a bike the narrow passage was unnerving to me.

Though Ron pumped ahead, I dismounted several times when the wind blew.  However, on the way back I’d acquired my sea legs and learned to rivet my attention on the grating — and not on the deep gorges over which the grating passed – and on which we rode.

FREIGHT CAR JUMPS TRACK

About midway on our ride we came to a spot where two huge freight cars had “jumped” the tracks, then slid down the embankment.  Obviously the mishap resulted in huge financial losses for a company whose business must be marginal.

In the early years of the train’s history, lines moved passengers by day and freight by night, but as years passed, improved transportation, wars and maintenance problems brought an end to the train’s operations.  More recently these rails have been used for transporting sand and lumber and for the transporting of other goods between the U.S. and Mexico.  But time seems to have taken its toll and we found places where gratings were  held together with rope, and where boards have weathered away.  Little wonder the Impossible Railway seems to be discouraging use.  Trespass signs are a way of exempting themselves from legal entanglements.


Biker riding over Goat Trestle

Biker riding over Goat Trestle

 


Today, it appeared to Ron and me that much of the infrastructure should be repaired, so predicting the future seems difficult.  But, in Montana and in Idaho, I’m familiar with the wonderful mountain bike routes railroads have created from former lines.  Ancillary businesses have evolved making it a win-win proposition for almost everyone.  In the meantime, hiking guides offer challenging routes to Goat Trestle.

Whatever the future may hold for these rails Ron and I both concluded that our ride along the route of the Impossible Railroad will always rank as one of the best mountain bike trips – ever!


NOTE: In my next blog I’ll post a few more images from the “Impossible Railroad.”


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THIS TIME THREE YEARS AGO:

*Tour By Anza Borrego’s Retired Superintendent Mark Jorgensen


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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.

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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.

$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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