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 June, 2013

Arctic Village – Where the June Sun Never Sets

posted: June 23rd, 2013 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  On a June night 22 years ago, Janie and I hiked to the top of a small knoll just outside of Arctic Village, Alaska, and watched as the sun dipped toward the top of the Brooks Range. It was the longest day of the year, and was here dramatized by the fact that we were about 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, that imaginary line that circles the earth and represents the point of longitude where the sun does not set in June or rise in December. That one point of longitude occurs on just one day and is called the summer — or the winter — solstice.

But this far north above that point the sun remained well above the lofty peaks of this magnificent mountain range, meaning, of course, that it never dropped below the horizon.  It fact, it never even came close to touching even the highest of the peaks in the Brooks Range.


LongestDay (1 of 1)

Arctic Village -- where the June sun never sets. Multiple exposure, and note that sun on the far right is actually beginning to rise.

 


From the day we first stepped foot in Arctic Village we were overwhelmed by the work of the people who have managed to carve out a living and by the beauty of the area.  In fact we were so enchanted that we returned year after year – most recently a few years ago to cover the World Eskimo Indian Olympics.

Alaska, and the Arctic, continues to hold a fascination for us and we are right now trying to work out our plans so we can soon return.  Who knows, but this could even become a family wide adventure.  We want to again climb to the top of that small knoll, build a small fire as we did 22 years ago and watch as the midnight sun dips toward the Brooks Range, but never quite touches them.

It was – and is – a sight to behold.

 

———————-

 

AIRSTREAM TRAVELS TWO SUMMERS AGO:

*Entertainment at Bannack, the state’s first capitol

 

MUST HAVE BOOKS FOR EXPLORING GLACIER AND MONTANA

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 »

Raccoon Problem Resolved

posted: June 22nd, 2013 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: In a posting of several weeks ago I detailed our problem with raccoons, stating that I would not shoot the annoying creatures even though they created the potential of wreaking havoc on our bird feeders. Raccoons are actually amazing animals, and I enjoy seeing them, just not at our feeders.  They’re part of the natural history that surrounds us so I’ve worked to find a solution.


Raccoon (2 of 2)

World of the raccoon dramatized with "fish-eye" appearance created with post image manipulation.

 


First I removed the screws that secured the feeder to the stand, and discovered the weight alone was adequate to hold the feeder in place, even against a strong gust of wind.  Most significantly, I’ve been removing the feeder each night and placing it inside.  Takes about two minutes, but what happened after that?

First night the raccoons returned, but realizing there was nothing to eat, soon left, and didn’t return.  Thinking they might have moved on to a new locale, I decided to experiment and leave the feeders up.  Prudently, however, I stayed up to see what would happen, and apparently they were still in the neighborhood.  Just as darkness settle in, somehow the raccoons knew the feeders were back up for they returned.  To me, the seed seems odorless, but I guess that’s not the case, for there they were.  And now they had become even bolder!

Opening the door, I stomped my feet and rattled pots and pans, prompting the two carnivores to casually, almost nonchalantly, claw up the tree to a branch about 10 feet overhead. With looks of complete indifference, they scrutinized me as I removed the feeders.  I then shut the sliding glass door and watched to see what would happen this time.  Within minutes they returned to the site of the feeders, but then realizing their food source was gone, they slowly clawed back down the large Douglass fir tree that stands adjacent to our porch.


GoldFinch (1 of 2)

During the day our feeders attract dozens of different species to now include the gold finch.

 


As well as luring nocturnal visitor, during the day our feeders attract dozens of song birds, and several different species of woodpeckers.  I’m always amazed at how the word seems to get around.  In years past, our feeders have attracted over 30 different species of birds, and their antics always provides us with immense pleasure. I also like knowing that out there somewhere, we’ve still got raccoons.


———————-

 


THIS TIME TWO YEARS AGO:

*Virginia City’s Brewer’s Follies May Not Be For Everyone


BOOKS  YOU SHOULD HAVE TO UNDERSTAND MONTANA, GLACIER AND SHENANDOAH:


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 »

Lincoln, It Was A Privledge

posted: June 17th, 2013 | by:Bert

Lincoln (1 of 6)©Bert Gildart:  It’s been 22 years since Janie and I first taught in a remote Gwich’in Indian village located in Alaska on the south side of the Brooks Range.  Known as Arctic Village, locals, who number about 100, could sometimes be difficult to meet, as Janie learned when she first picked up the mail.  Back in Fairbanks (about 250 miles south), we’d been told before boarding the bush plane, that the postmaster’s name was “Peter,” so that is what she called the stern-appearing man working behind the counter.

“Hello, Peter,” she called out the first couple mornings.  “Came to collect my mail.”

“Peter” would hand Janie the mail, but said nothing.  And so she stepped back to the dirt roads, wondering if the man spoke only Gwich’in.  She was frustrated but determined and, so, devised a plan. Janie made some cookies, inserted them into a clear plastic sandwich bag, and then next morning started out the door of the small teacherage, saying, “I’m going to get Peter to say something!  Anything!”

Fifteen minutes later she entered the compact log structure, asked “Peter” for the mail and handed him a sack of oatmeal/raisin cookies.  This time the man’s reaction was different.

“Thank you,” he responded with a grin.  “But my name is not Peter.  I’m Lincoln; Lincoln Tritt. Peter is my brother, and he is on vacation.”

From that time forward a relationship began to develop, which Janie helped foster.  Janie offered to take Lincoln in the old school truck (second was the only forward gear that worked!) to the dirt runway that served as the village’s tiny airport, and slowly her “mail-collection service” began generating trust.  It was genuine, for we loved village life and returned often, and as the years passed and we became fixtures in the Gwich’in Indian community at large, we developed close friendships with Lincoln and, of course, with others.

Once, following an extensive riverboat trip, we met Lincoln in Old Crow, Yukon Territory.  And when Janie and I completed a one-moth hike through the Arctic Refuge, Lincoln called the Fairbanks radio station saying they should dedicate the hour to us, which they did.

More time, and Lincoln paid us a visit in Montana, living with us for over a month (he forgot his hat and left it on our sofa) – and I believe we came to know Lincoln Tritt well.  He was a talented musician, a gifted speaker (he spoke at colleges such as Tulane!) and, despite his lack of academic education, he was a cross-cultural philosopher with extraordinary insights.  He was also a writer, and he often shared his work with us…

From Lincoln’s writing: My cousin Mary’s cabin is out in front of trail that leads into the village. She has a dog that barks at people from the moment they come into view… The bear is a powerful animal and this power is not limited to physical strength.  As soon as the dog becomes aware of the bear’s presence, it becomes silent.  Once such energy made us aware of things that happen around us, but not much anymore.  Today, we live in a physical world where constant noise and activities prevent us from noticing anything.


Tragically Lincoln died of a heart attack this past October, and sadly we are just now learning about his passing.  When he passed we were on the road, out of touch, as we often are, with much of the world.  As well, Lincoln lived in northeastern Alaska, some 2,500 miles away, and communication with that part of the world is often nonexistent.


Lincoln (6 of 6) Lincoln (3 of 6) Gwich'in Gathering (1 of 1)

 

L to R:  Lincoln inside his small cabin in Arctic Village; Lincoln, in Fairbanks, Alaska; Lincoln is in this picture, present as are all the other Gwich’in in this image at
Old Crow, Yukon Territory, to show
his support for the protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. 


And so we are a bit late in mourning his loss, but for the past few nights we have been obsessed with our recollections of this remarkable man.  And though there is much to recall, let me summarize a bit about what we know, asking that our thoughts be considered as the much needed catharsis for two Lincoln admirers still in shock.  Others, of course, know him in different ways and those ways may be much more profound.  I assemble these thoughts from some of his writings and from our visits with him, both in his cabin in Arctic Village and with him here in Bigfork, Montana.

More from Lincoln’s writings: When a person gets the idea that I am better than others or that I know more than others, then that person no longer listens… and can become “hopelessly lost.”


Lincoln was born in Salmon River (Sheenjik Village), Alaska, and said that according to his mother’s memory he was born October 18, 1946.

“I traveled with my family of four,” he told us, “with dog team from Salmon River Village to Fort Yukon during the record cold winter of 1946-47.” Lincoln said that over the next 13 years he lived with his family in Arctic Village and in Fort Yukon.  Lincoln continued, saying that Ft. Yukon was also his introduction to segregation (at the time Fort Yukon was a remote Army outpost) and to the start of his guarded faith with his fellow human begins.

Lincoln’s writings: When I was growing up there were very few distractions in the village.  This quiet and contentment helped our senses to develop slowly and without fear. This way we are more focused on what we see and hear.  From the sense of awareness came our ability to listen.  Today people listen to words without concentrating on the ideas or meaning that the words are supposed to convey.

As Lincoln grew his parents sent him to boarding school, and he believes they did so to help him develop a sense of all that was going on around him.  When he graduated he joined the Navy because he thought it would keep him out of Vietnam, “but that,” said Lincoln, “is exactly where they sent me.”


Lincoln (2 of 6)

Lincoln enjoyed playing Country and Western, but he loved gospel, and once joined the local church choir in playing Amazing Grace.

 


Lincoln told Janie and me that it was those experiences that prompted him to consult the Gwich’in elders, and to study his grandfather’s journal. In an attempt to synthesize what he was learning he began taking college courses. As well, he worked on his music, and to help, Janie purchased a sophisticated tape player and recorded some of his work.  He had a grand voice (U-TUBE VIDEO) and he loved the country western music to which he was exposed as a youngster.  But he was at his best when he sang gospel music, and we’ll never forget the time when the tiny Episcopal congregation in Arctic Village allowed us to record Amazing Grace, sung in Gwich’in.  Lincoln, of course, was a part of the ensemble.

Lincoln wrote: While learning about things I began to notice two words: want and need.  Then I applied these words to my material possessions.  When I was done with my inventory I realized how little I needed and everything else became junk…  Now I can work on turning myself into a Gwich’in.  I try to live the way my ancestors lived because it gives me peace and freedom.


Lincoln’s life was considerably more complex than what the blog format facilitates, though generalities exist.  Certainly, he was a dreamer (as am I), but he was also a man of superior intelligence who, had he chosen to do so, could have made his mark at any level in the wider society.  Nevertheless, his contributions, though sometimes subtle, were always profound, and will invariably manifest themselves…


ArcticVillage

Arctic Village, where Lincoln now rests, beside the Chandalar River

 


We plan to visit Arctic Village one day soon – and when we do, Janie is going to return Lincoln’s hat.  She says she intends to place it carefully on the final resting spot of this wonderful man…

Lincoln, it was a privilege to have known you.


—————-

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

The Flight of Chief Joseph


A LINK TO BOOKS YOU MUST HAVE IF VISITING MONTANA OR GLACIER NATIONAL PARK

Both, of course, by Bert Gildart.  Click the links below and I believe you’ll agree the photographs all tell stories.  


*GLACIER ICONS


*MONTANA ICONS


Read Comments | 6 Comments »

Critters At Our Feeders

posted: June 13th, 2013 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Seven months ago when we departed for the winter in our Airstream, we put our bird feeders away and didn’t get them back out until just a few days ago.   Remounting them  is an annual ritual, and what amazes me is just how quickly critters begin to return.  Already we’ve got birds during the day but at night there’s a noise telling us that yet another type of critter is  finding sustenance, one we don’t particularly want.



racoon (10 of 1)

This morning on our porch.

 

Two days ago, Janie awakened me 4:30, urging me to get up and see what else had  found our feeder.  Obviously from the images, we’re attracting a rather large raccoon.  Several years ago our feeders attracted a family of coons, but I shooed them off, essentially because I was afraid they’d break the feeder.  But this guy seems fearless and he seems determined, as my initial encounter suggests..

With camera in hand, I opened the sliding door that leads onto the deck and clicked a few images.  Then I stepped toward the rather large carnivore, prompting a hiss.  I took another step  and only then did he begin clawing his back down the tree.  I thought that might be the last of him,  but not so, and last night he was back around midnight.  I knew he was there because of the scraping sounds he made with his claws and the low rumble emanating from its throat.  What to do; what to do?


Racoon (5 of 6) Racoon (1 of 6) Racoon (3 of 6)


Our feeders have provided us with an incredible amount of joy and have attracted over 30 different species of birds, to include hummingbirds, pileated woodpeckers (Is It Hector or Hortense?), and,  once, a bald eagle.  On several occasions they’ve attracted huge turkeys and I think my post on that incident may provide a few chuckles.  Our feeders have also attracted squirrels and once revealed that birds seem to have their own foundation for politics (Birds Are Political Creatures!), and they mirror our own.  But what to do, what to do?

If this raccoon returns again, I fear I will have to remove the feeder – else he’ll probably destroy it.  I’m not a bleeding heart, but I’m not going to shoot it as I enjoy knowing the farm lands that surround us still attract wildlife. In fact, on our little patch of land we have skunks, coyotes, pileated woodpeckers – and once again – a few raccoons.

OTHER SUBJECT:

Highlights for Children just notified me that they be running a story on the Gwich’in Indians originally published about 10 years ago.  Our adventures in the far north  have provide me with stories which I’ve published in dozens of magazines to include Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, National Wildlife, Leap Frog (for children), The Wilderness Society and many others.  But most significantly it has created for us lasting friends, and right now they are much on our minds.

———–

AIRSTREAM TRAVELS ABOUT TWO YEARS AGO:

*Bannock Montana


VISITING GLACIER OR MONTANA?  HERE ARE BOOKS THAT WILL HELP

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 »

Recalling Gwich’in Indian Elder Hamel Frank

posted: June 10th, 2013 | by:Bert

HamelFrank-caribou

Hamel Frank preparing the skull of a caribou for roasting over a fire.

©Bert Gildart: Recently I have seen images on Kenneth Frank’s Facebook page recalling his father, Hamel Frank.  His images also stir strong memories for Janie and me, for our experiences in the Arctic created lasting friends, and one of them was  Kenneth’s father.

Hamel was a great man, and we got to know him over a period of about ten years.  During a portion of that time, we taught school, but then later returned as journalists, which also enabled me to gather information about one of North America’s most remarkable group of people. As well, we hiked the Arctic Refuge and then another summer, spent four months living out of a wall tent as we journeyed along the Yukon and Porcupine Rivers in our johnboat. (I think this epitomizes the ultimate form of freedom.)

The group of people I’m referring to are known  as the Gwich’in, and they live further north than any other group of Indians,  specifically, they live just south of the Brooks Ranger in Alaska.  Hamel Frank was one from that group, and we got to know him through our friends Kenneth and Caroline Frank.  (Kenneth, incidentally, says he was graduated from the college at Gold Camp, which really means he is a student of his environment and has the knowledge to help preserve the ways of his ancestors.)

While I taught school Janie would visit elders such as Hamel and jot down the stories these people related.   One of those stories tells of a hunting experience, but more importantly, it recalls the importance of caribou to this group, many of whom still work as subsistence hunters. From Hamel’s recollections, I provide the following, a recollection which tells of a time of near starvation:


Several days later Hamel recalled that his older brothers, Nathaniel and Elaa, lashed on their snowshoes and sought help at Christian Village, some 30 miles away.  They took with them one blanket and the hind leg of a porcupine. Their timing was just right, and that, according to Hamel, was luck, because in those days people were scattered and could have been out hunting or trapping.  But Jim Christian, Ambrose William and Moses Sam were there, and for Nathaniel and Elaa that was even more good  luck.

During the winter, the three young men had been camping over by Tt’oo tthoo van (Brown Grass Lake), and next day, they returned for some of the food they had cached. They stayed the night and in the morning, they hitched up their dogs, put a little food in their toboggan and returned to Christian Village.  Nathaniel and Elaa then snowshoed back to Ch’at’oonjik (Crow Nest River), taking with them what little food could be spared…

“Now we are better,” said Hamel with a nod. “And now, it’s going on to spring. But the only place there was caribou was over on the Sheenjik.  So now everyone was going over to the Sheenjik and started killing caribou. People from Arctic Village go to the Sheenjik. But not us,” said Hamel.


CaribouHooves HamelFrank


L TO R:  The Gwich’in use everything from the caribou, even the hooves, which they boil  to create
a broth, eaten when times were hard; Hamel Frank with pair of snowshoes which he made.

 

 

Hamel explained that that summer they stayed in Arctic Village. But later that fall they went to Big Rock Mountain [just north of Gold Camp] and with the help of Arctic Village residents, they built a cabin.  Here, they waited for the caribou, which soon began their return from the north.


“Then the caribou were going back south there were so many,” exclaimed Hamel. “At first, we just watched the caribou migrating.

“That was a better year!  That year,” smiled Hamel, “there were lots of caribou trails…”


Janie and I both believe that the opportunity to work with these people has provided us with some of our most memorable experiences, and we hope that the ways of the Gwich’in will always be respected. To learn more about this group you can check out Kenneth Frank’s  Facebook page, and the website of the Gwich’in Steering Committee.  You can also see more of my experiences with Kenneth by following this link which tells of an incredible ice fishing trip.


————————–

 

THIS TIME TWO YEARS AGO:

*In A Field Where Camas Grows (This story tell about Chief Joseph, the famous Nez Perce Indian)

 

BOOKS YOU NEED TO EXPLORE MONTANA, GLACIER AND SHENANDOAH:

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 »

Majestic Mountains Prompt Memories — One Mysterious

posted: June 7th, 2013 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Here are a few more images made June 1 during a 33-mile-ride (16.5 miles each way) along Glacier National Park’s famed Going-to-the-Sun Highway to Logan Pass. These images complement my last posting and all continue to generate memories, one which remains a mystery.


LoganPass (12 of 14)

Going to the Sun Mountain backdrops cyclist at Logan Pass -- a mountain still revered by Native Americans. In 1962 David Wilson climbed this mountain, then he disappeared.

 


My adventures in Glacier began in 1961 when I spent my first summer in this northwestern Montana national park.  Next summer I returned and climbed Heaven’s Peak with David Wilson, a college student and fellow seasonal employee who left a legacy that has subsequently been shrouded in mystery.

One week after climbing Heaven’s Peak, Wilson, probably about 20, made a solo ascent of Going-to-the-Sun, signed the log – and then he disappeared, and has never been heard from since. (Images of the significant mountains are here included.) The park organized a massive search party, but no luck.  Bob Frauson, district ranger at the time in St. Mary and former member of the elite 10th Mountain Division, led the search and later said that he liked to think Wilson had used the climb as a ruse to cover his flight to South America.  (Of course there are other scenarios.) If Frauson were alive today he might liken the disappearance to that of Christopher McCandless, the disenchanted young man featured in book and movie entitled Into the Wild.  Frauson always thought Wilson had family issues which he was trying to evade.


LoganPass (11 of 14) LoganPass (2 of 73) LoganPass (2 of 14)


Majestic mountains prompt memories and include: Mount Clements; Bird Woman Falls nested between Mount Oberlin and Mount Cannon;  and last, Heaven’s Peak, which
backdrops me and which I climbed in 1962 with co-worker David Wilson.  One week later, Wilson climbed Going-to-the-Sun (top image)  and then disappeared. 

 

My image of Going-to-the-Sun Mountain  is also germane to understanding the inherent problems in clearing Going-to-the-Sun-Road of snow, for it approximates the location of the Big Drift, the huge snow bank that is still covering this famous road.  Winds off the Continental Divide blow vast quantities of snow down and onto the road, and, invariably, this is the final challenge for crews working the snow plows.  Most likely Going-to-the-Sun huge banks of snow will continue to plug the road in and around the Big Drift area for another few weeks.

Cycling Going-to-the Sun Road also promotes many other recollections and includes: hikes along the Highline, lilies, Goats at Logan Pass, Global Warming – and Night of the Grizzlies – to mention a few.

And now I’ve got yet another memory, which is cycling to Logan Pass.  In the future, this memory will trigger vast quantities of snow and recall the chance to bask in what may be the most beautiful place in all of creation.  That, of course, is subjective and impressions can’t help but be associated with all the allied memories that crop up each time I return to Glacier. Some of those memories are further included (and professionalized) in Glacier Icons (see below), which contains appealing photographs and much-touted essays based to some extent on the dozens of magazine stories I have written about Glacier.  If you’re visiting this magnificent park and want to understand its features, you need this book!

 

————————————

 

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

Avian Actors

 

BOOKS YOU SHOULD HAVE:

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 »

Mountains of Snow Mantle Glacier’s Logan Pass

posted: June 2nd, 2013 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  As I approached Montana’s Logan Pass this past Saturday, June 1, I was surprised when another cyclist — peddling back down from the summit — suddenly asked my age.   “I’m 74,” he laughed.  The he began committing on our magnificent surroundings, reflecting on our luck for still being  part of it.

Though I never did provide a precise response regarding age, I did remark that, yes,  we were lucky we could still bike to this 6,680 foot high pass. It not an easy ride, but it is the only way  to reach this pass in early June, for although the road is plowed to the summit, it is not yet open to vehicular traffic, and from the pictures included here, you’d be correct in concluding that it won’t be open for yet a few more weeks. You’d also be correct in assuming that for me, at any rate, seeing this spectacular pass before the hordes of humanity mar the uncluttered winter snows was worth every ounce of energy that I expended.  So it must have been for my new friend.


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Lone biker dwarfed on June 1, 2013 by vast amounts of snow.

 


In short  this is good news for cyclist. It means that on the weekends you can enjoy this magical part of the world without having to contend with vehicular traffic.  During the week snow plows are clearing the road of snow and rocks – and even a few trees that have careened downhill, uprooted by the power of  an avalanche.  Maintenance crews are now  preparing the road for the two million summer visitors that will soon start driving this same road, once it is safe and when visitors can access the restrooms, something they can’t do now (see below).

To bike this segment you must park your car at the Avalanche Lake Parking lot, mount your bike and then peddle along this 16 mile-long section of the Going to the Sun Road that climbs almost 4,000 feet.  Saturday, lots did it and though cyclists were mostly “young kids” in their 30s and 40s, a few were more mature.


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L to R:  Set up for self portrait near Logan Pass; snows releasing their vast quantities of water near Haystack Butte; sorry, folks,
but toilets (building in foreground) not yet open.  Visitor Center shown in rear.

 

What I’m saying with these thoughts is that Logan Pass (The Polga family — and grandchildren — will remember this great goat outing) seems to represent a challenge on whatever level you strike out, and perhaps that’s because we know it is a challenge just to open the pass.  Road crews work closely with avalanche specialists who monitor the 34 avalanche paths along the road below Logan Pass. To assist with safety the park hires an avalanche technician who usually hikes above the road to watch snow conditions and warn the crew below if an avalanche is imminent. Tragically, two people died in 1958 when an avalanche hit the plows they were operating.


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Narrow path courses through deep snow at Logan Pass with riders leaving and arriving.

 

It is these very conditions that factor into the opening and closing dates, which usually occurs about the 2nd week of June and then remains open through October.  It is these very difficulties that have also created one of the nation’s most exciting (and yes, challenging) all-day bike rides.  Along the way I saw a black bear and some of the world’s most incredible scenery. I also remember — and vividly so — that as I approached the top my thighs were really starting to burn!

Because I am a “mature” rider I took about four hours riding to the top.  At the summit I then poked around on the pass taking pictures for about an hour.  Riding back was, of course, a piece of cake though again I dawdled, simply enjoying the beauty of June 1, 2013 in Glacier National Park.  It is something we’ll be able to do for yet a few more weeks before the park officially opens, and if my “new friend” and I can do it, then most anyone can. Believe me, it is worth the scorching sensation in leg muscles, for there is also a real sense of accomplishment that only comes when you have experienced  something that is  grand.


 

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THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

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BOOKS THAT WILL HELP YOU ENJOY MONTANA AND GLACIER NATIONAL PARK:

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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