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

Jerry DeSanto, Glacier Park Ranger Extraordinaire

April 2018, and I thought I had published this shortly after his memorial service held September 2017.  Sorry!  Apparently I published it only on Facebook.  Again, sorry.  I prefer this format to the much more difficult to access one on Facebook.

DEDICATION: “To men such as Jerry DeSanto, who offer the hope of preserving outdoor skills still needed by contemporary rangers.” From my book “Montana’s Early-Day Rangers” published in 1985 by Montana Magazine.

This past Sunday (September 17, 2017) a group that must have numbered over 150 gathered at the home of Karen Feather to celebrate the remarkable life of Jerry DeSanto, Karen’s “significant other.”

Jerry was one of the most remarkable outdoorsmen I have ever had the privilege of knowing.  I first met him at a Wilderness Association meeting in Great Falls, Montana, and I was flattered when he invited me to join him on a cross-country ski trip.  And so, several months later, I found myself   x-country skiing from the East Glacier Ranger Station across Lower Two Medicine Lake to the snow-shrouded ranger station now remembered as Two Medicine Ranger Station.  Gathering wood from the stack of firewood outside we kindled a fire in the station’s old wood stove, and I knew I had made a friend when he pulled a flask of wine from his backpack also intended to “warm” us.


As the years went by we made a number of hikes into several other historic ranger stations, with him narrating the structure’s history.  As a man who’d withdrawn from a doctor’s degree program in history, his interests were obvious.  Of course most of Jerry’s hikes were solitary, but there were yet other events which recall his fun-loving nature.  Most memorable of all was the time my daughter got married along the banks of the North Fork River not far from Polebridge where Jerry was stationed for much of his career.

It was November14, 1997, and the wedding evolved into a wild night.  I had provided Angie and Will with a “Shot-gun Wedding,” and here’s where Jerry came in.  Right after the wedding we proceeded the short distance to Karen’s Northern Lights Restaurant/ Saloon.  Karen had prepared meals for the entire wedding party, but first, of course, we needed a bartender.  Jerry was there and he served as one of the best ever, making sure our glasses remained full.

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Sadly, several months following Angie and Will’s wedding Jerry was patrolling the backcountry when he fell ill, later to be diagnosed with herpes zoster. Tragically, the disease progressively reduced this vigorous man until he had to be placed in a nursing home, but during the entire time Karen remained by his side on an almost daily basis.  And so it continued for almost 15 years, until this past August, when he finally passed away at age 88.  Appropriately, Karen announced a memorial which attracted people from all over the country.

In attendance was former Glacier superintendent Bob Haraden (now in his 90s). Of course there were many other former Glacier employees, most of whom I know and now call good friends.  Included here are a representative of a few of those individuals whom I was able to photograph.  They include, Bob Haradan, Chris McEwan, Dan O’Brian, Jack Potter, Bill Hutchinson, and Rich Thompson playing guitar with David Stanley.  I wish I had been able to find Fritz Royer and Karen when I had my camera ready.  Also included in this rather lengthy post is an image of old Two Medicine Ranger Station (torn down), and an image provided by David Shae of Jerry with a pack horse.

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This group was a remarkable one and as we sat around we remembered many events from Jerry’s life, but the one that got the most attention was the one recalling a mauling Jerry suffered by a sow grizzly while on patrol between Kintla and Upper Kintla lakes.

As the old newspaper report posted next to Jerry’s hat recalled, Jerry was the only ranger ever attacked and injured by a grizzly bear.  At the time (August of 1986) Jerry was 55 year old when the small grizzly pulled him from a tree. While the bear was on top of him, DeSanto tried to fend her off with his left arm.  He then cussed her and hit the bear in the face with his pack.  The grizzly ran away.

Though injured Jerry was back one month later where he continued with his life’s work.  As a devoted outdoorsman he helped preserve hundreds of acres in the North Fork as wilderness.  For all these reasons I maintain that Jerry DeSanto embodied the passion – and those many, many outdoor skills  — still needed by contemporary rangers.


Ten Years Ago At This Time:


4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

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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

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