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 the 'Anza-Borrego' Category

Ghost Flower

posted: March 8th, 2017 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Yesterday (3-8-17),  photographer friend/Airstream owner Bill D and I hiked Moonlight Canyon Trail searching in part for the elusive Ghost Flower, a species that derives its name from the ghostly translucency of its flowers. Certainly, that’s appropriate, but Bill and I concluded the plant could also be named because it is so ephemeral.  “Here today, gone tomorrow,” is the way Bill expressed the condition, adding, “like a ghost.”  And that seems apt, for over the years Janie and I have visited Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, we’ve only seen but one example of this beautiful white flower.

But Bill and I lucked out, and during our hike we found a number of small clumps, and then, later, as we researched the species, discovered it has some characteristics that make Mohavea confertiflora unique.


GhostFlower (1 of 4)

Bill and I return to Moonlight Canyon, near Aqua Caliente. 
An excellent area in which to see bighorn sheep and to find the elusive Ghost Flower.


NO NECTAR

Mohavea confertiflora flowers March to April, and what is unique to the species is that it does not produce nectar.  Instead, the internet tells us [the species] “has adapted a morphology resembling the flower Mentzelia involucrata, which often grows in the same habitat. Mentzelia involucrata produces nectar to attract female bees of the genus Xeralictus.”

The explanation further says that our ghost flower attracts the same pollinators to its flowers through floral mimicry (an evolved act in which a species derives a benefit by mimicking some feature found in another species):  In this case the Mohavea flowers contain marks that resemble female Xeralictus; these marks operate as a sign stimulus to the male bee, which enters the flower and in doing so pollinates the Mohavea.”

These facts piqued our interest and we worked hard to capture the blood-red marks (located deep in the “bowl”) of the plant.


GhostFlower (4 of 4) GhostFlower (5 of 1) GhostFlower (2 of 4)


Note the blood-red splotch in the bowl
of these ghost flowers, another feature that makes them unique.


FIGWORT FAMILY

Because the species has some unique features that it shares with snapdragons and penstemons, the ghost flower is placed with them in the figwort family (Scrophulariaceae). But its appearance is decidedly different and can be recognized by the long, hairy, light-green leaves that are elliptical to lanceolate.  Plants we saw stood about 4 inches long.

We saw a number of plants on our hike through this beautiful canyon accessed from Agua Caliente, but had spent so much time photographing Ghost Flowers we figured we could dally no further, for Larry and my wife Janie were waiting for us so we could all to sit down beside Bill and Larry’s Airstream and enjoy the scrumptious mid-day dinner Larry had prepared.

 

———————

 

OTHER FLOWER POSTS:

Photographing Cacti — In Macro Mode

Strobes, Great for Photographing Flowers in Windy Weather


THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

Organ Pipe Water Issues


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 | 2 Comments »

Renewed Person?

posted: March 3rd, 2017 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Well, we made it, from Montana to Borrego Springs and to a house we’ve rented for a month. This is the first time in 20 years we’ve traveled without our Airstream, and it was a wise choice. Blizzards followed us from Bigfork and then on into Idaho. But we missed them all, and then had the good luck to run into a short stretch of Route 66, something for the future, when I’m ready to hoist hitches.


Route66 (1 of 1)


I didn’t realize how much strength I’d lost from over 35 days in the hospital where I was mostly bedridden. But I sure found out yesterday when I biked about 10 miles and had to push to complete the trip in less than two hours. Lots of stiff muscles this morning.

Rental (2 of 2)


But I accomplished goal number one and that was to climb back on my bike after a four month hiatus and though I was challenged, I did it — and today hopefully I will do better.

The warmth of the weather is an inducement to get out, and the coziness of our rental makes it a delightful place to recoup. From our rental we look out over Coyote Peak, and just three years ago I had the strength to make the day-long climb, up and down, with good friends Don and Nancy Dennis.


Rental (1 of 2)

We’re going to try and do a little socializing while here, but mostly we’re here so that when we leave, I’ll be a “renewed” person.


—————-

 

Adventures in Anza Borrego, before I had to be renewed:

Climbing Coyote Peak

Challenging Mountain Bike Trip in Borrego Springs


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 | 2 Comments »

Mountain Biking in Anza Borrego Desert Park — A Challenge

posted: January 16th, 2016 | by:Bert


©Bert Gildart: Several days ago a friend and I coerced our significant others to help with logistics for an incredible bicycle ride in Anza Borrego Desert State Park.

Loading bikes in the back of a pickup, we drove up Montezuma Grade, and that’s where we began our biking adventure, riding into Culp Valley over a sand- and rock-covered road. The day before it had snowed, and we were surrounded by peaks that sparkled white. Yes, this was all part of the Sonoran Desert, and we had been lured by the prospect of seeing great beauty and possibly Indian morteros. Once, the Kumeyaay Indians had lived here in concert with the land.

My companion was Gareth Pritchard, a man I met last year while biking the Ajo Mountain Loop Road in Organ Pipe National Monument. Gareth was from Wales, but immigrated to Canada where he worked in the business of hotel management.  We have stayed in touch.


Garrith Pritchard-5

After a three tortuous-mile ascent Gareth and I prepare to descend.  Just turn the bike around.


But it was his volunteer work subsequent to retirement that seemed so rewarding. Gareth joined a group who assemble old bikes. Components are then shipped to Africa, and Gareth said that in some of the impoverished villages bikes elevate the standard of living for many residents. “Bikes,” he says, “are absent in some villages, and they provide mobility.”

We visited about those interests as we rode, but soon settled into the challenge of the ride, which began with a steep climb that continued for about three miles. The ride then plummeted toward Grapevine Canyon.

Gareth and I both enjoy recording our adventures with our respectively-owned Garmins, but Gareth’s Garmin went beyond mine, for he has learned how to create maps of his adventures, which he shared with me. “Look,” he said, “at the snake-like section in the map’s left center. That’s where the route really descends. Wet sand will add to the challenge and is where our fun really begins.”

My image of Gareth back dropped by jeep tracks and rocks is where the hair-raising descent began. But shortly after that the trail leveled, and soon passed Angelina Spring where we found evidence of Native American activity. “To think” said Gareth as we paused at a mortero, “that we can ride bikes in this remote land and pass a place where Indians once pulverized Yucca to make bread.”


Culp Valley to Yaqui Well CS (3) GarrithMortero Garrith Pritchard-1

Map that Gareth downloaded and shared with me; Gareth stopping to inspect
moteros used by Native Americans to pulverize yucca into a substance — later used to make bread, route to summit.


We dismounted and spent about an hour exploring the area, then continued on to our terminus, again checking our Garmins. Data revealed that from Culp Valley to Tamarisk (where Janie picked me up five hours later) we had biked 15.98 miles. Average moving speed was 6.12 miles (we stopped lots) and average temperature was 53.5. The route, according to our devices revealed we had climbed 1,706 feet then plummeted 3,156 feet.

During our entire trip we saw but few others. We encountered a very considerate couple driving a jeep, and off in the distance we saw three other bike riders. Our trip was truly an adventure, and I hope that my post will turn people on to the joys of mountain biking and to the idea that we really need to preserve and protect such magnificent lands.


——————

 

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

Organ Pipe Has Reopened

New Thoughts About Alamo Canyon

 

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 »

Ghost Mountain — An Experiment In Living

posted: January 19th, 2015 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: The trail was steep and rocky, and following a one-hour hike, Jerry and Susan  Weil, Janie and I finally reached Yaquitepec, the site of the eroding ruins of a home Marshall South and his wife Tanya began building in February 1930. Here they remained until September 1946.  (Links to a few of my previous postings on the Souths:  Ghost Mountain, No Clothes, Ghost Mountain or Broke Back Mountain. )

They had removed themselves from civilization hoping their lifestyle of simplicity would complement the flood of writing that both Tanya and Marshall produced. What we found, however, as we poked around the old homestead now being absorbed by the overwhelming wilderness in which they had once worked, were ruins. And some say they were a metaphor for their “experiment.”


M-South (3 of 3)

Trail to Ghost Mountain is rough and rocky.

 

For awhile, all seemed to go well for the Souths. Three children were conceived here, and art work produced. In his years at Yaquitepec Marshall wrote hundreds of magazine stories. “They were popular,” wrote Randall Henderson, editor of Desert Magazine, “because he expressed the dreams which are more or less in the hearts of all imaginative people.” Often complementing those stories was Tanya’s poetry. Marshall also wrote five novels, all popular at the time.

INFLEXIBLE NATURE

But underlying all of these achievements was an inflexible nature, and that, more than anything else, probably contributed to their downfall. Wrote Henderson in a book we had carried in our day-pack to Yaquitepec: “Marshall’s tragedy was that he tried too hard to fulfill his dream. He would not compromise. And that is fatal in a civilization where life is a never-ending compromise between the things we would like to do and the obligations imposed by the society and economic organization of which we are a part…

“He wanted to raise a family–and impose upon his family his own unconventional way of life.”

Though Henderson may well have been correct, the Souths were living in a time when vast changes were occurring. Our nation was at war and the army considered a part of the land on which the South’s were living to be their land, and in 1945, forced them off. Though permitted to return a year later, the South’s way of life had been disrupted, momentum lost, and they had to start all over again.

M-South (1 of 3)_2 of 3)_3 of 3)_tonemapped

Homestead still testifying to Marshal and Tanya South's fascinating Life.

 


By this time, the toll of such Spartan existence was taking its toll on Tanya, and she wanted out.

TRAGIC ENDINGS

One winter day she gathered the children and marched down from Ghost Mountain, eventually settling in San Diego. Though there is much in the records to suggest she often looked back during the next 50 years (she died in 1997 at age 99), there is little in the written record, for she remained aloof–and sometimes friendless.

Lichen (1 of 1) M-South (2 of 3)


L to R:  Lichens are an indicator that air quality is good, and along trail, they were abundant and vibrant.  Jerry and Susan  Weil, Janie and Bert, standing in arch of the South’s old home.


Marshall died in 1948, at the age of 59. He was penniless and so destitute that it remained for Rider, his oldest child, to provide a marker, which he did in 2005. The epitaph read: “Father, Poet, Author, Artist and included as well, one of his poems. Though the poem that follows is not the one on the grave stone, it may well reflect Marshall’s hopes that he did, indeed, leave his mark. The poem is entitled TIME and we begin with his second stanza:

Who owns this land? Beneath the sun,
in blots of indigo and dun,
The shadows of the clouds move by,
beneath the arch of turquoise sky.
Sunlight and shade in patterned change
across the wasteland’s endless range-
Time–on soft feet. And who shall find,
the records we shall leave behind?

Janie and I closed the book about the Souths and continued poking around. Immediately we found the metal frame of the old bed that all five used in the winter for warmth. We could also make out the general layout of their home. We found evidence of the cisterns Marshall constructed to funnel water following the desert’s infrequent rains. But elsewhere agave poked throughout the old structure. So, too, did ocotillo and barrel cacti. Cholla blocked the frame once supporting a door.

EXPERIMENT’S LESSONS?

When Janie and I first learned about the couple, we had cheered for them; hoping to learn of a happy ending. But that was not to be, and we concluded they were lucky to have made it as long as they did, for so much was against them. They contended with war, disruptions to their lifestyle, and a society that at times expressed intolerance. As well, the nation was growing–the population expanding–and their land was coveted by some.

Without funds, they were ill equipped to fight this new battle, a lesson we should not forget. Take heart from the fact that their home-schooled children led very successful lives.

 

————-


THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

Adventure of Ballarat Bert and Panamint Jane

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 | 2 Comments »

Whimsical Travels — to Optmize Photography

posted: March 19th, 2014 | by:Bert


©Bert Gildart:  Seldom have our travels ever been planned travels, and that is certainly true of the past few days.  We had no plans to stay another few days in Borrego Springs, and we certainly had no real plans to wind up where we are now – in Organ Pipe National Monument.  Travels such as these are made on the spur of the moment, and usually they’re made, changed — whatever — because we hear that interesting natural history things are starting to happen.


FanPalms-10

Fan palms as seen during moon rise from our Airstream at Borrego State Park

 

Some of our friends make travel plans over a year in advance. But we seldom know for sure what tomorrow will bring, much less any of the tomorrows contained in 365 days.  We call such travels “Whimsical Travels.”  And that’s the category into which most of our travels must be grouped. For one thing, we think it optimizes photographic opportunities.

We spent several days in Anza Borrego State Park and did so initially because Springs of Borrego was booked solid.  But then when we saw how beautiful each sunrise was turning out to be, and then how beautiful the evening moonrise – in all of its full-moon glory – was turning out to be, we extended by two days.



FanPalms-9 FanPalms-5 FanPalms-2

 

L to R:  Moonrise as seen from our campsite at Borrego Desert State Park.  Airstream at overflow campsite in Springs of Borrego.  Stand of palms reached after several mile hike up Palm Canyon.  Trail is immediately adjacent to state campground.


During that time we got a note from Chuck (one of our Peg Leg friends who had proceeded us by about a week) saying some of the cacti in Organ Pipe, Arizona, were starting to bloom, so now we are now camped next to the Mexican border. And, yes, some of the cacti are blooming, not the masses we’ve seen in previous years, but enough to make the trip worthwhile.


Organ Pipe-7 Ocotillo Organ Pipe-2


L to R: We think the flowers on the left and far right are both staghorn cholla.  If not, then one may be a buckhorn cholla.  The two species are known to hybridize confusing I.D.  The center picture is an ocotillo, and note that it is blooming and that THERE ARE NO LEAVES.  Leaves may accompany flowers but only when an adequate amount of rain has fallen.  Flowers, however, bloom independent of rain and are timed to bloom in April, synchronizing with the return of the hummingbirds, their pollinators.

We’ll be here for a few more days, then, we’ll do as I said we’d do in a previous posting: we’ll follow the Swenson’s Hawk, and like it, we’ll look for “staging areas,” areas where we can regroup and fuel back up. In a way, its travels are a bit whimsical, though we probably set the record.


———————

 

AIRSTREAM TRAVELS THREE YEARS AGO:

*Burrowing Owls and the Bizarre Nest Needed to Survive

 

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 | 2 Comments »

See You

posted: March 14th, 2014 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: It is intended that Janie’s gesture suggest a certain nostalgia as we make ready to leave the Sonoran Desert. While here we’ve camped at Gilbert Ray, Peg Leg, Springs of Borrego and, today, we’re moving for a few nights to the State Park because Springs of Borrego is full.


Janie

Janie bidding a fair adieu to our many Sonoran Desert friends. Note our Airstream toward upper left.


The focus of our stay in each has been to learn more about the Sonoran’s natural history.  A few flowers are starting to pop up and last night we watched from our RV pad as dozens of Swenson’s Hawks circled over our heads.  They’ve wintered in South America, places as distant as Argentina, and they’re returning.  From here they’ll disperse, some settling in Montana, Alberta and other areas in the Northwest.  Each year about 300 Swenson’s move through the area, making this a particularly dramatic event.

CactusWren BarnOwl PrairieFalcon


L to R:  Cactus Wren, Barn Owl, Prairie Falcon

 

Monday we’ll leave the State Park and then we’ll follow the Swenson’s, moving north.  Like these hawks we may find a few “staging areas” along the way where we’ll take time to regroup and enjoy attractions in these new areas.   In the meantime, we say goodbye to the many friends. We’ve biked extreme areas with Ron, shared a glass of early morning wine with Tony and Betty, watched birds with Mike, Randy.  We’ve learned about Chinese history (see below) with Bill and Larry, and  studied the stars with Ted and Carol.  And we’ve climbed Coyote Peak with some very special friends,  Don and Nancy.

Sadly, some may not be back but our memories are so vivid that they’ll always be with us.  So we won’t say goodby, rather we’ll do as native friends in Alaska do, and simply say, “See you.”


—————-

*AIRSTREAM TRAVELS TWO YEARS AGO:

Year of the Dragon

 

 

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 »

Tony Feather Performance Will Benefit Borrego Children

posted: March 5th, 2014 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Our friend Tony Feathers will be playing at the Performing Arts Center in Borrego Springs this Friday night.  Tony and his wife Betty were some of the first people we meet while camped at Peg Leg about five years ago.  He was playing his guitar around a campfire and we asked if we might join.  Since that time we have remained in frequent contact.

TonyFeather-3

Our friend Tony Feather providing Janie and me with fun-filled night -- a "private concert."

 

Back in Tennessee, Tony has his own band known as the Blue Sky Town. He has cut several CDs and placed high in the prestigious Chris Autin Song Writing Competition at the MerlFest.  He has been interviewed by and played on National Public Radio.

About a week ago he and Betty again joined us at Peg Leg where he entertained us as we all sat inside our trailer, and that’s where I took a number of new photos of Tony.  It was a fun evening, and his music reminds us a bit of the genre popularized by John Prine and Lyle Lovette.   Tony says his music is best described as “eclectic Americana,” Songs as reflected by titles that include Old Black Crow, Hop On My Pony and Ride, and Forty Miles From Mexico. Funds raised by the performance are intended to help the children of Borrego Springs.

We’re back in Borrego and camped at the same RV resort at which we stayed last year.  The resort is best known for its “Greens,” and though we’re not golfers we find that many other aren’t either.  They’re here because of its central location to all that Anza Borrego Desert State Park has to offer, and because of the resort’s amenities, such as the hot tubs and the exercise rooms.

Janie’s brother and sister-in-law will be joining us for Tony’s performance.  They’re from L.A. and we’re all looking forward to the Friday night concert.  It appears as though it will be a sellout.

*Cacti and Macro Photography

—————–

 

AIRSTREAM TRAVELS TWO YEARS AGO:

 

 

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 »

Drought Engenders Few Flowers But Attractions Remains

posted: February 22nd, 2014 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Borrego Springs – and much of the Southwest for that matter — is experiencing one of the driest and hottest seasons on record.  What that means for those of us Peg Leg is that the multitude of flowers normally carpeting the desert sands at this time of year is nonexistent.


PalmCanyon-3

Flowers usually dominate landscape in late February, but not this year. Still palms provide attraction

 

As a result we must search for other desert attractions, and thankfully, that’s not too hard to do.  Two days ago, for instance, Janie and I hiked up Palm Canyon.  Along the stream that courses through and past a grove of  palms, we found along the banks a few flowering specimens to include the brittle brush, chuparosa, and one species we believe is an aster.

PalmCanyon-5 PalmCanyon-2 PalmCanyon-1

L to R:  Chuparosa, possible an aster, brittle brush


But that was about it.  Of course we found the palms and they looked as healthy and as lovely as ever.

The hike is but 3 miles total, and includes the very real possibility of seeing sheep, which we have sighted many times on previous excursions.  The three-mile round-trip hike to Palm Canyon is one of Janie’s favorite hikes, and she takes a moment (above) to enjoy a view that is immensely panoramic.


——————

 

Airstream Travels This Time Last Year:

*Sonoran Desert Museum

 

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 »

Campfire Magic and the Compulsion of B.S.

posted: February 20th, 2014 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: And so we spend the evenings sitting around a pine wood fire, spinning stories about our days’ adventures.  Sometimes it’s just Janie and me, but other times it includes a few of our Peg Leg neighbors.  The other night it included (L to R) Rich Charpentier, Randy and his dog Jack; and Mike Gibbs. Janie, of course, is also in the mix.  We’re all knowledgeable about B.S (Borrego Springs, of course!) so our range of tales is spread thickly.  Randy’s story included one about his dog, Jack, and it seems that once when Randy was flying commercially an acquaintance who was bordering hollered out “Hi-Jack.”  Randy says the name “almost got Jack and me thrown off the plane.”


AnzaBorrego-3

Campfire settings

 

But last night it was just Janie and me, and on nights when we’re unaccompanied we use the app on our cell phone to identify stars, constellations and planets.  We’re familiar enough now with this southeastern California sky to instantly identify Jupiter; Taurus the bull; Orion the hunter; Cirrus, brightest star in the sky; and Cassiopeia, a  vain Queen from Egyptian history.

Of course we’re seeing other stars, which we can also I.D., but the above are some of the more familiar heavenly bodies.  We have seen four other planets, and when the skies are really clear we can see the Pleiades.  Borrego Springs prides itself on its dark skies.

And so concludes a brief summary of nights spent ‘round the fire and narrations about B.S.


——————–

 

Airstream Travels One Year Ago:

*Brave New World In A Desert Heartland

 

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 »

Biking Anza Borrego

posted: February 17th, 2014 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  For those who enjoy biking, Anza Borrego Desert Park provides a multitude of opportunities.  Small though the town may be there are at least three outlets that sell new and used equipment.  As well, “Biker Dan” provides repairs, and I’ve relied on him several times.


Biking-5

Biking the soft sands of Coyote Creek in Anza Borrego State Park. Rich Charpentier out in front.

 

Yesterday, I joined up with Rick Charpentier, a fellow Airstreamer and biker, who loves to mountain bike.  Because time was short for Rich, we picked Coyote Canyon, driving first to the trailhead for Alcoholic Pass.  From here, we continued along the dirt road, biking about four miles toward a stream famous for the historic explorations of de Anza, the Mexican explorer who first traveled through the region. He was bound for San Francisco, several hundred miles to the north, but Rich and I decided we would stop a little short.  We peddled through the soft sand but turned around after fording the tiny stream through which de Anza passed on Christmas day.  The stream also recalls the site near which the wife of one of the explorers in his group gave birth.

I worked hard trying to create a picture that would convey our ride and to do so had to rely on a camera chest mount. Photographically, I knew what I wanted, but because I was guessing at framing had to repeat exposures several times before I got what I wanted.  I wanted an image that included my handle bars, “Rider Rich, soft sand and the distant mountains.  The picture here is just as I took it and has provided me with much satisfaction.


—————————-

 

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

*Antsy McClain (Humor and Pathos Unite Everyone)

 

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 »

Road Friends Have Become Great Friends

posted: February 8th, 2014 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  Janie and I have been wandering North America for almost a quarter of a century, and consider ourselves fortunate to have met so many interesting people.  In the last couple of days some of these friends have stopped by.  We value our times together with all good people, benefiting at times from our combined observations.  Here’s a quick rundown.


MarshallSouth2 Morteros-5 DaveMorteros


L to R:  One mile hike leads to the much deteriorated remains of the Marshall South homestead; Dave Veddar examines morteros in images two and three.

David and Pam Vedder have been camped in the desert Southwest for over a month and took time to swing by our camp here in Anza Borrego Desert State Park.   Dave and Pam are from the Seattle area and he is paid to fly round the world in search of the very best areas in which to fish.  Initially we met Dave and Pam through our affiliation with the Outdoor Writer’s Association of America, an organization that consists not only of writers and photographers but the editors who buy our work.

Dave only had one full day (two nights) so I took him to two of the most interesting areas in Anza Borrego –Marshall South’s deteriorating old homestead, and to the morteros.  Both are accessed from the same backcountry road then reached following short hikes. Morteros were created by the Kumeyaay Indians who used these rock hollows to grind a desert plant known as the agave.  Indeed, Dave and I were stepping back in time, benefiting as we regressed from our mutual thoughts on the daily challenges the Kumeyaay faced.


Steve&Linda3

Great good news is that Janie is interested in knowing more about tandem biking. No one can provide more info about the sport than Steve and Linda, who have now logged in 58,000 miles!

 

Dave and Pam left yesterday but shortly after they left Steve and Linda showed up on their tandem bike.  Now here’s an achievement that is almost unbelievable.  In the last 10 years or so Steve and Linda have logged in over 58,000 miles biking all over the country.  Several years ago they went coast to coast.

We met Steve and Linda about five years ago.  They were camped nearby and introductions were easy as we shared biking in common.  Steve and Linda have been more than happy to share their knowledge and we’ve learned much from them.

Steve&Linda2

Steve and Linda depart Peg Leg.

 


Because we don’t see some of our many friends but for short periods of time, we try and keep up with them in other ways, such as social media, and that of course, includes Facebook. By so doing, we know the general location of many and when opportunities arise, we try and and get together, as suggested by our activities of these past few days.

 

—————–

AIRSTREAM TRAVELS LAST YEAR:

*Organ Pipe’s Ajo Mountain Loop

Also

*Exploring Anza Borrego with Life Long Friends

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 »

Return to Pegleg

posted: February 5th, 2014 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  We left Anza Borrego Desert State Park last April, but are back now, exploring the hills but keeping our eyes open for snakes, scorpions and tarantulas.  This “snake” was here last year, but it appears to have gotten even larger.  We found it by simply stepping onto a desert trail that leads from the steps of our Airstream and then following it up for about a mile to a small cove of rocks.

Pegleg-5

"Snake", discovered while hiking trail above Pegleg.



It’s good to be back in the Sonoran.

We got here several days ago, departing Mojave National Preserve.  It was an easy day drive from our campground at Kelso Sand Dunes, but we got a late start and when we saw a sign at Chiriaco Summit along Highway 10 offering “Free Dry Camping” near a display of old Patton Tanks, we decided to overnight.

PattonTanks-1 Pegleg-6 Pegleg-1


L to R: “Free Dry Camping” adjacent to old Patton Tanks at Chiriaco Summit along Interstate 10; Janie heading above Pegleg; Mexican workers loading vegetables onto pallets — working as though choreographed.

Next day we struck out for the remainder of our drive passing a group of Mexicans who seemed to be working hard with coordinated movements loading fresh fruit onto pallets for shipping.  Such labor is, of course, available to Americans of all ethnicity, but the workforce consisted of Latinos only.

An hour later we pulled into Pegleg (Pegleg’s Gold)and since that time have been settling in for what will surely be a stay of at least several weeks.  Our solar panels are up and once again we marvel that we can play music, run computers, watch TV at night, run the heater — charge telephones, Nooks, and camera batteries and never pull the charge in our four 12V batteries much below 12.8.  That means we remain near the “fully charged” indicator at all times.  The sun pops up about 7, and by 9, we are fully, fully charged again.

Pegleg-2 Pegleg-3


L to R: Pegleg campground below Janie, who later finds snake and “adds” to its growth. 

That means we have no worries and can explore to our heart’s content.  Look at the above photos and you’ll see that that is precisely what we have been doing.  Give us a few more days to settle in and our wanderings will take us further afield.  Upcoming trips will have us looking for sheep and Indian morteros, and, most likely, see us returning to old Marshall South Homestead.  South was a noted magazine and book author, who choose a life style that was absolutely isolated.

You’ll want to stay tuned for upcoming posts.

—————-

 

Airstream Travels Two Years Ago:

*Rock Art

 

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 | 3 Comments »

Views and Feelings From Vista Del Malpais

posted: March 12th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  My father’s words rang in my ear as we parked our vehicles at Vista del Malpais and then stepped out into a windy evening.  “Stick with your objectives,”  he always said, and ours was to enjoy the incredible vista of badlands offered from THE VISTA as we munched on a locker full of cheese and snacks and then wash it all down with several fat bottles of red wine.  All this, of course, set up the conditions for much philosophical discourse.


Dragon-3 Dragon-1


Forgive me Betty for including an image that makes your checks look swollen, but you’d  just munched a slab of cheese and the other photos were blurred because of the wind.  Image on Right: our “fort” against the wind.


The setting was absolutely incredible but the wind was creating a challenge, making it hard to even sip wine, but Tony Feathers was inventive. “Let’s do like we did when we were kids and make a fort.”

So that’s what we did. We positioned our vehicles beneath several ocotillo bushes now touched with their fiery torches of red, opened the doors, sat in the lee of the wind and watched the sun slice the badlands into a myriad of tiny entities — and downed our bottles of wine.  Then we discussed our place in the universe.

Dad, we were sticking to our objectives.


Dragon-2

View from Vista del Malpais

 


We sat there until dark, then returned along the four-wheel drive road to the state road.  We bid Tony and Betty a sad farewell (“Stay in touch – see you next year.”), and then we drove to one more place I wanted to photograph. I wanted to capture THE DRAGON beneath one of the famous Borrego “dark sky nights.”


Dragon-4

THE DRAGON, beneath one of Borrego's famous "dark sky nights."

 


By now the wind had died down and my long time exposure complemented the feelings of immense space and a timeless universe that badlands, wine and clear skies can create.


——————————————————————————-


AIRSTREAM TRAVELS FOUR YEARS AGO:


Night Photography in Organ Pipe



ADS FROM AMAZON AND GOOGLE AUGMENT OUR TRAVELS:

(One of our new books, below)



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Goodbye Pegleg

posted: March 11th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: My how the time flies!  Several days ago we spent one of our last nights at Pegleg trying to create a campfire scene with Lou and Larry Woodruff, another Airstream couple with whom we’ve shared fun times.  We wanted an image that would highlight all the time  we’ve spent in and around Pegleg.


Campfire-Lou&Larry

One of our last setting at Pegleg

 


The image is one of the last taken this year at Pegleg, for we’ve now moved to a commercial campground.  We’ll be staying at “Springs At Borrego” long enough to thoroughly wash our truck and clean the camper after almost four months of boondocking.  On Tuesday we’ll be leaving Anza Borrego heading to an Airstream rally near Apache Junction, Arizona.

It has been a good winter and I’ve accomplished my major goal, which was to complete another book manuscript for Globe Pequot, and do so in a warm climate where at day’s end we could step out the door and hike to our heart’s content.  An extreme example is my climb up Coyote Peak.


CoyoteMountain-1

Just by stepping our our backdoor we've been able to hike and climb to our heart's content, such as climbs up Coyote Mountain.

 


But we also wanted to maintain contact with friends we’ve made here in this sprawling California park.  Many have come from distant areas, and because so many things can happen in the course of a year, we’re not  sure just who will make it back.  But we’re hoping the power of campfire settings, the beauty of the night skies, the exhilarating card games and the charm of the desert will lure them all back.

It’s been a good winter and we leave with regret.


———————————————————————————–

 

AIRSTREAM TRAVELS FOUR YEARS AGO:

*Amargosa Opera House

 

ADS FROM AMAZON AND GOOGLE FACILITATE OUR TRAVELS:



 

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Exploring Anza Borrego With Life Long Friends

posted: March 10th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: About a week ago life-long friends Dave and V.V. Shea flew down from Montana and have been exploring parts of Anza Borrego Desert State Park with us. I think they are beginning to understand why we’ve become desert rats, and why we’ve been making winter visits each year to this part of the Sonoran.



Dave&VV-5

Trail through Indian morteros and pictographs concludes at incredible overlook of Smugglers Canyon.


 

I met David in Glacier National Park (This link is about my new Glacier book, mentioned below. Lots of pictures.) back in 1966, where we both served as rangers.  We both were involved in the park’s first fatal grizzly bear maulings.  David was at Granite Park Chalet where I was at Trout Lake, and each of us shot the grizzly bears that were thought to have killed the two girls that one night in August of 1967.  David married V.V. 30 years ago and then he and his bride packed into Belly River Ranger Station.  The historic station is the park’s most remote station, which is according to David and me, another word for “the best.”


Dave&VV-4 Dave&VV Dave&VV-12

 

L to R:  Trail to Smugglers Canyon Overlook provides opportunities to study ancient Kumeyaay Indian pictographs and morteros.  Another outing took us through Split Mountain to a trailhead that lea to caves sculptured  by wind, called therefore, “Wind Cave.”


Both David and I say that it was in part because of our experiences in Glacier that our interest in natural history mushroomed, and appropriately, David eventually worked as a permanent botanist for the Forest Service.  He is also a first-class writer and editor and has published a book on Glacier’s Chief Mountain.  As well, he reviewed the manuscript on my new book Glacier Icons, so for a host of reasons we were delighted they wanted us to share Anza Borrego with us.

David and V.V. both enjoyed our camp at Pegleg in part because the nights are so clear and the stars so vivid.  One evening we saw five planets: Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars and Saturn.  Seems as though David knew every single one of the 88 constellations, and he says his interest in astronomy began when he was in high school.

During the day the four of us made a number of hikes several to old Indian ruins, the others to see desert vegetation and the park’s incredible geology.  While here, the four of us hiked to an overlook that peered down onto Smuggler’s Cave, to several Indian morteros, to a panel of Indian rock art, and to an area known as Wind Caves.  We also made the drive to Sonny Bono to see owls, the subject of my last posting.

So far our only disappointment is that we have not found bighorn sheep, but that’s OK, for people should always leave a place wanting more.


AND NOW A NOTE: David, you should be here now as huge flocks of Swainson’s Hawks are flying north from Argentina. We saw them last night flying over our campsite.


AND YET ANOTHER NOTE TO OUR READERS: Finally our book Glacier Icons has hit the Amazon books shelves, and is described as follows:


From the mountain goats who linger by the visitor’s center on Logan Pass to the crystal-clear glacier-fed lakes, from the magnificent views from the Many Glacier Hotel to the old-growth forest landscapes, visitors will find much to ponder and enjoy within these pages. In 1903 writer, editor, and naturalist George Bird Grinnell expressed his thoughts in Century Magazine about this land he had come to love, calling the area the “Crown of the Continent.” His image of and descriptive story about the magnificent glacier-carved landscape in the far reaches of Montana brought about the creation of Glacier National Park in 1910. Grinnell’s description is apt, but it is just one of the collective descriptions that evokes iconic images of Glacier, also called the “Land of Shining Mountains” and known by many millions of visitors for their own personal stories and connections to its magnificent vistas and small wonders.

Glacier Icons contains fifty chapters filled with thousands of facts and hundreds of full-color photographs of iconic people, places, events, foods, animals, traditions, and more from all parts of this great national park.


————————————————————————————–

 

 

THIS TIME FOUR YEARS AGO:

*Exploring Glacier’s Highline

 

 

ADS FROM AMAZON AND GOOGLE AUGMENT OUR TRAVELS


 



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Burrowing Owls and The Bizarre Nests Needed To Survive

posted: March 7th, 2012 | by:Bert


©Bert Gildart: Three years ago I visited the Sonny Bono Wildlife refuge, which is located about an hour drive from Borrego Springs in Anza Borrego Desert State Park.  At the time, which was March first, I’d gone there specifically to see the burrowing owls, and yesterday, that was again my purpose.


BurrowingOwl1

Even near a wildlife refuge Burrowing Owls can not find natural nesting sites.

 



Essentially, I wanted to see if nesting conditions had changed, and to quickly summarize, little has changed, meaning that burrowing owls — at and around this refuge — survive only because of some help, and because the species is so incredibly tolerant.  Put in other words, nest sites are about as unusual as you can find.

Under natural conditions, burrowing owls select burrows created by ground nesting mammals such as prairie dogs and various ground squirrels.  But farmers have eliminated all species of mammals that create burrows, and as a result, burrowing owls  have to rely on something else.

Three years ago a nesting pair was making use of a discarded Goodyear tractor tire, and I was absolutely astounded to see that an owl was making use of it this year.  Only one owl, however, occupied the “nest” so I’m not sure if young had already fledged.  Perhaps they had.


BurrowingOwl2

Farmers have eliminated ground nesting mammals -- and consequently the burrows once used by burrowing owls. To help, mangers have substituted PVC pipes, which owls have accepted.

 


Though wildlife managers had set out PVC pipe several years ago, at that time I didn’t see any owls, but this year we saw dozens of pairs at these artificial nests, so help seems to be working.  Apparently there are a few owls that are nesting in the old fashion way, i.e. using burrows created by the various ground squirrels.

Burrowing owls are one of the smallest species of owls, standing but nine inches-tall. It has a short tail, very long legs, and weighs but 4 oz.  When the owl sees something approaching its home, it bobs up and down a few times, and then dives into its burrow. Here, the owls breed in late winter, and the females lay around 6-8 eggs. Eggs take one month to hatch, and young owls remain in the nest for about 42 days before leaving.


————————————

 

THIS TIME FOUR YEARS AGO:

*Organ Pipe, Struggling to Keep Stories Alive



ADS FROM AMAZON AND GOOGLE AUGMENT OUR TRAVELS:




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Rattlesnake Mountain Provides Perspectives on Spring Flowers

posted: February 23rd, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: It’s been well over a week since last posting, but that should not imply a lack of activity on our part here in Anza Borrego State Park.  Fact of the matter I’ve been finalizing a manuscript due at my publisher March 1, so I’ve been under the gun, leaving little time for blog writing.



20120217-DSC_5474 20120217-DSC_5506 20120217-DSC_5488


CLICK TO VIEW AS LARGER IMAGE.  L to R:  Barrel cactus, Dry Clark Lake,  desert vegetation to include new agave stalk back dropped by Dry Clark Lake.



But we just mailed the manuscript, and although I now have magazine stories to complete, I assume I’ll be able to squeeze in several blocks of uninterrupted time.  With that hope in mind, I’m also going to take time to post few images of the activities we’ve been enjoying the last ten days.

DRY CLARK LAKE

About five days ago, friends and I made the short drive to a trail that ascends Rattlesnake Mountain. Our goal was not to climb the mountain, simply to ascend far enough to see what vegetation we might see in bloom, and to get a perspective of Dry Clark Lake.


20120217-DSC_5470

Close up of barrel cactus as seen five days ago while climbing Rattlesnake Mountain. Many other of its kind also in bloom.

 


Dry Clark Lake is appropriately named for once the valley was full of water.  Since coming here it has provided me with photo opportunities, particularly following sustained rain, for then the fairy shrimp emerge, and by using specialized strobe techniques, I’ve been able to obtain frame-filling shots.  At any rate, several thousand years ago the valley’s geomorphology held water when the skies opened creating a lake.  But now it is dry.

POOR FLOWER YEAR

In fact it is so dry that this year naturalists say it won’t be much of a flower year, and though that does seem to be the case, nevertheless many of the barrel cactus stands were in bloom. Combine that with the views our climb offered of the old dried up lake and I must say that our day on the Rattlesnake was most enjoyable.


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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS THREE YEARS AGO:

 

*Desert Five Spot and the Function of Beauty

 

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Are Volunteers In Anza Borrego the Nation’s Most Talented?

posted: February 13th, 2012 | by:Bert

TonyFeather-4-1©Bert Gildart: Anza Borrego has the largest volunteer program in California, something that may not be too surprising when one realizes that it is the nation’s largest contiguous state park.  The key word is contiguous as Adirondacks State Park in New York contains more land, but the segments are scattered.

The point, however, is not size, but the number of people willing to volunteer their time to ensure quality.  Last count has the number at 100, and these good people clean campgrounds, learn about the area’s natural history, contribute to research, and then often share that knowledge as leaders of hikes and as auditorium speakers.

But what kind of people would contribute all their time and effort and get so little in return? From my random sampling of one, I’ve concluded all these people bring exceptional talent to the setting and do so for the sole reason that they want to help improve what is certainly one of the nation’s premier desert settings.  (Note, click here to see the power of music. Why it can even charm in kangaroo rats)

RANDOM SAMPLING

Several years ago, Janie and I had the good fortune to be camped next to Tony Feathers, a man who is fanatic about enhancing appreciation for this 600,000 acres park.

His talent is music and in a previous life he frequently sang his songs and strummed his guitar on Public Radio and at coffee houses in his home state of Tennessee.


Our invitation to him and to his wife Betty is a standing one, and we feel fortunate that the couple have found  enjoyment at our campfire. (You can link here to Tony’s music.)

Recently, Tony received a third place for his song writing at an Appalachian Song Writer Contest, and that’s significant as it was a national competition.  He shares this talent with visitors and with the school children of Borrego Springs.  The remarkable thing is that everything he contributes is offered as a volunteer.


As I say, if my random campfire sampling of one has even a modicum of validity then Anza Borrego is not just the nation’s largest state park, but may also be staffed by one of the nation’s best group of volunteers.


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Tony Feathers provided a random sampling of one, suggesting all Anza Borrego volunteers are tops



They’re here because they love the park and believe in its benefits to the human race.


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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS THREE YEARS AGO:

*Gray Whales and Super Dolphin Pods

 

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What Happened? This Brobdingnagian Landscape May Blow Your Mind

posted: February 8th, 2012 | by:Bert


©Bert Gildart:  If there is a boulder field in Joshua Tree or one of the other national parks that has a greater “wow” factor  than does this one,  I can’t recall it.

We saw this immense scattering or rocks while hiking in Anza Borrego Desert State Park’s Indian Hill country.  This field of rock stretched for half a mile, and if you look closely at the associated photograph, you’ll see some of the rocks are rounded while others assume a more elongated configuration.

What happened?

I am not a geologist but after seeing this pile of rocks, this “Brobdingnagian landscape” as one author called it — referring to Gulliver’s travels (by Jonathan Swift) through the land of giants – I had to buy several books and try to recall college courses.


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Boulder field in Anza Borrego that may blow your mind.

 

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE AND TO BETTER SENSE THE MAGNITUDE

 

Synthesizing information from a geology book authored by Park Ranger Paul Remeika, my understanding is that about 100 million years ago various forces pushed a molten mass to the earth’s surface and into the overlying sedimentary rock.  Depositions of these sediments preceded this molten mass by millions of years and were laid down from materials transported by inland seas.

As the granite connected with the pre-existing sedimentary rock it solidified and then crystalized, which tends to set up areas of weakness.  These areas take the form of “joints,” or horizontal and vertical fracture lines.  With time the process of erosion further weakens the joints and they fragment into huge granitic rock masses.  Wind, rain, freezing and thawing further modify their appearance whereupon elongated rocks become smaller and more rounded.

Similar processes have occurred in other areas of the park such as at Culp Valley.  Particularly impressive were the fields of boulders I saw several weeks ago off the trail and above Alcoholic Pass.

But nothing I’ve ever seen seems to match the Brobdingnagian landscape near Indian Hill, which simply blew my mind.


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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS THREE YEARS AGO:


*Desert Five Spot


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Mysterious Rock Art of Anza Borrego

posted: February 6th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Anza Borrego contains some of the nation’s best preserved evidence that a group of people once led extremely productive lives by living entirely off the land.  They hunted sheep, made their own flower for bread, hauled water using pottery they created, and they revered the afterlife.

Over the years of visiting this park I have attended a number of naturalist walks, during which time I learned about the morteros Natives once used and about certain sites where the Kumeyaay left their rock art.

There is, however, one of these sites to which naturalist seem reluctant to take groups of people.

LONGEST OCCUPANCY

In very general terms naturalists will say that the Indian Hill area has served as the longest most singly occupied area in the park.  Early pre-historic Indians worked the area but were then followed by the Kumeyaay who remained for several thousand years, and it was members of this tribe that apparently created some of the park’s most dramatic rock art.


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L TO R:  Chuck, right, detailing long occupancy of the Kumeyaay in area.

Though they will provide general information to the site, they certainly will not provide maps or GPS readings to the site.  Though laws now protect these sensitive areas with large fines for defacing and touching the rock art, there remain some who either out of ignorance or out of spite care not for the concept of historic preservation.  In other words, there is no poetry in their lives.

Several days ago Don, Nancy, Janie and I accompanied Chuck, a man who has been visiting Anza Borrego for over 20 years.  In the course of his wanderings he found the site I have also searched for, but which has always ended unfulfilled.  Chuck was also hesitant to share the site’s location, but when he realized I wanted to celebrate the rock art and not herald their location, his enthusiasm for spending the day hiking with us increased.  “Yes,” he would show us the site – and now, after having been there I understand both his reticence but also his enthusiasm.

EVIDENCE OF OCCUPANCY

In very general terms our adventure took us up Mortero Wash, then along a 4-wheel drive to a parking lot, then on a roundtrip hike of about 7 miles.  Our adventure took us into one of the most remarkable boulder fields I have ever seen, and it was here, among the fields of huge granite boulders that the Kumeyaay dwelled for such a long period of time.


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Pictographs created in caves of Indian Hill made of pigments, as opposed to petroglyphs, which have been chipped into rock.


The evidence is there, for we found a few morteros (grinding pads) and an abundance of agave, the plant from which they made their bread. Then, finally, and after some casting around, Chuck finally re-found the several caves in which this group of Native Americans created their rock art.

WHAT THEY REPRESENT

Though no one can say for sure what the symbols represent or which members of the tribe created them, from other sites I know many experts believe the sun was a common motif and that a “Shaman,” or spiritual leader, might have created them.  Likely some of the pictographs here represented the sun.

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Rock Art Panel



What, however, I can say with certainty, is that as we sat in this cave used by the ancients, allowing as we did the huge granite boulders to create a frame of the world, we felt an immense separation from all that was secular and mundane.  Here, the sun would shine forever, and all would remain bright and good.


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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS FOUR YEARS AGO:

*Death Valley, Where an Entire River Disappears

 

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