©Bert Gildart: I’ve had extra time on my hands these past two months and have been using it to sort through old transparencies, deciding which ones to toss and which ones to save and scan. Organizational efforts have helped recall many interesting events, and I’d like to share several images associated with two particularly memorable adventures.
One story results from a time in 1991 when Janie and I worked in Arctic Village, Alaska, as summer school teachers. It was an adventure in part because of all the national attention focused on possible oil explorations; and it was dramatized one July day that summer when Max Baucus, our state senator, bush-planed in – wanting to learn more about the subsistence life style of the Gwich’in Indians who inhabited Arctic Village. At the time Baucus served on a committee that had questions about drilling in the Arctic Refuge. The village was contiguous – immediately so – with the refuge and Baucus wanted to learn how drilling in the refuge would affect this most northern of all Indian tribes. (Eskimos live further north.)
I knew Baucus from a climb he and I had made in 1981 to the top of Triple Divide Peak in Glacier National Park. The mountain was famous because waters from the top flow in three directions: to the Atlantic, Pacific and Hudson Bay. In those years I had worked the valley for several summers as a park ranger and because I had mapped out the route I was the logical guide.
Likewise as teachers in Arctic Village I knew village leaders and Janie and I were honored to make introductions (we still stay in touch with Trimble Gilbert). Baucus departed enchanted with this remote way of life and has forever remained supportive of efforts to preserve the refuge (ANWR). Baucus is currently in the news as he has decided to retire.
The other event, which might make you wonder just how qualified I was to lead Baucus up Triple Divide Peak occurred in 1988, 26 years ago now to the month. The mishap resulted when four of us, to include my good friend David Bristol, with whom I later climbed Mount Rainer, and I got stranded on Chief Mountain, also in Glacier Park.
David and I had checked out several weather sources prior to departing, and as we reached the top, blue skies engulfed the peak. Halleluiah, and so we lingered, but as we started back down, a freak weather system began to emerge. Harsh winds blew in accompanied by dark clouds. Before long we were shrouded by so much fog that visibility was reduced to zero – certainly a dangerous situation. Prudently we stopped and huddled that night around a small fire, trying to keep dry and warm as rain and snow beat down.
Next morning skies miraculously cleared and we descended. When we were about 100 yards from our car we were surprised to encounter a rescue team. Later, a park official reported to our local newspaper that the team had discovered us in a near hypothermic state – and that it had saved us.
Our pride was damaged and we wrote to several newspapers saying that we were not “disoriented,” and that the team had not “led us back to our car.” I concluded my remarks saying that we were grateful to the park for their efforts but that we modern day men of the mountains have our pride – then emphasized (as did my friends) that “We had not been saved.”
In addition to stumbling across old memories I’ve used the past two months to prepare for a bicycle riding event, called the Huckleberry 100. The event offers riders three courses, a 25-mile route, a 50-mile route and a 100-mile route. I’ve chosen the 50 mile route, and I must emphasize that this event is not a race. For me it will be a victory simply to complete the course. The event is this Saturday and Janie will be taking pictures.
THIS TIME LAST YEAR:
BOOKS TO ENHANCE YOUR ADVENTURES IN GLACIER, MONTANA AND SHENANDOAH NP.
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.
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