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 'Montana Photography' Category

Osprey Return to Flathead

posted: May 17th, 2016 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Montana’s Flathead Valley has a huge population of osprey, and right now they are in the process of building nests. Mostly we see them on the top of telephone poles, but every now and then friends tell me of a nest they’ve found. Generally, they’ve discovered a pair nesting in a tree somewhere along Flathead Lake, which was the case with this one shown here.


Osprey5-1


Last year biologists counted 21 osprey nests, but discovered that only 18 were active.  Observations with spotting scopes further revealed there were a total of 33 nestlings, 29 of which successfully fledged.

Usually osprey will remain in the Flathead through late September or early October, at which time they return to wintering areas, which include southern Texas and Mexico.  Osprey are a magnificent species and we’re delighted so many have selected the Flathead as their summer home.


——-


Four Years Ago:  A Most Pleasant Day With Rattlesnakes


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 »

Should We Pardon our Turkeys?

posted: November 27th, 2013 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  Here in our somewhat rural setting in Montana, it would be easy to enjoy a turkey dinner, and I doubt anyone would be the wiser.  It’s tempting; especially when several make their way onto the balcony of our porch, and then blop three feet down onto the floor of our deck.  Can these large and somewhat clumsy birds  fly off before I can bat one?

Silently, I inch open the sliding door that accesses our deck.

Despite the fact Ol’ Ben thought the species an intelligent one, our turkeys don’t have the smarts to flap their wings and rise above the level of the banister.  Instead, as I’ve discovered (and through no malice on my part!), they race back and forth across the small deck, crashing into the railing. They add to the growing pile of evidence that proclaims , “I Tom Turkey have shat upon your porch!”


Turkey2

They number in the dozens and damage our feeders and leave deposits on our porch. Should we pardon them?

 


Given this insult it is so tempting to charge out and whack one in the head, but instead I back off.  I close the door and then watch.  Are they smart enough to overcome their dilemma?

Settled now, they cluck among themselves and then every single one adds yet another rude deposit to our porch.  But there’s hope.  A minute or two later, one bird springs onto the banister, tests its wings and then it lumbers off.  Quickly, the others follow suit.

If turkeys contributed only madness to our small world, tomorrow, we’d be dining on a freshly harvested wild turkey.  But they contribute more.  Along with the other bird species, our 50 to 60 wild turkeys add pleasure to our lives.  They have a distinct social structure.  Below the deck they gather to feed on seeds other birds have dispersed from the feeder above.  Elite turkeys feed first and we’re fascinated by this nuanced social behavior.


Turkeys-1

Their social structure and various antics fascinate them, so we're inclined to forgive their transgressions.

 

Our wild turkeys also put on displays.  Fanning their tails they then elevate them so that the bird becomes an object of considerable beauty.  It’s a display usually associated with territoriality and mating, but beneath our deck it’s a display that defies seasonal propriety.

Apparently, our turkeys are just happy turkeys, and today they should be, for despite the fact they’ve pried off the top of our feeder and insulted  our deck, I am going to defer to presidential restraint.  Today, I’m going allow every single one of these huge avian visitors to continue on with its life.

Today, no matter what they do I’m going to pardon each and every one.


—————————



AIRSTREAM THANKSGIVING  TRAVELS

*Thanksgiving in the Great Smoky Mountains

*Thanksgiving 2008

*Thanksgiving Pardon of 2007




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 »

Buckskin Clothier

posted: November 24th, 2013 | by:Bert

Buckskin purse©Bert Gildart:  Listen up holiday shoppers.  In just slightly over a month it’ll be Christmas, and if you want to make an impression on your significant other check out Buckskin Clothier and you’ll get lots of ideas.  (Contact info is also on the web.) The business is owned by Elaine Snyder who excels in making fashionable works from tanned hides.

Originally I thought the purse shown here would, in fact, be a Christmas gift, but then I reconsidered, concluding that because Janie has endured more than her fair share of health problems this year that I’d give her something a month early to add some extra cheer.

Something really special!

The gift accomplished what I wanted, and so I’m passing on this recommendation.  Believe me, creations from Buckskin Clothier are not fly-by-night productions.

The media has long known of Elaine’s skills — and Gail Jokerst, a local media talent — wrote about Elaine and her business for one of her regional columns, saying that Elaine has transformed hundreds of tanned deer, antelope, elk, moose, and buffalo hides into unique WEARABLE ART.  “Your tanned hides or mine?” queries Elaine. “SEW BE IT!”

AWARDS FOR HER ART

Jokerst’s story goes on to say that in January, 2009 Elaine was inducted into Montana’s Circle of American Masters as a Master Tailor in Buckskin. The Montana Arts Council also chose her in their first round of 11 inductees to the Montana Circle of American Masters in Visual Folk and Traditional Arts in 2009. Elaine was chosen as a buckskin tailor, “in recognition of artistic excellence for a body of work and contribution to the preservation of the state’s cultural heritage.”

Today, lots of her clients are baby boomers that know and appreciate leather craftsmanship, though she sometimes sells to younger rodeo riders. Elaine told me there have been times when she has noticed a gal on television wearing one of her “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” jackets or a guy wearing one of her buckskin vests. Wrote Jokerst, “Like a mother who intimately knows what her own child looks like, Elaine instantly recognizes one of her creations.”

And here I should add that I, too, wear one of her vests. With a string tie I wear it for  formal occasions, and no one ever looks at me askance.


BuckSkinClothier

Check out the antler rosette, beautiful fringe, and the exquisite stitching!


And now a brief note about the purse, which is made from the hide of a deer.  Check out the antler rosette, the beautiful fringe and look at all that  perfect stitching.

Janie says anyone who has a buckskin vest (as she does from a previous purchase) and a purse from Elaine’s Buckskin Clothier is indeed a lucky person.


—————-


AIRSTREAM TRAVELS THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

*Indian Hill


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 »

Huckleberry 100 – Appropriate for All Age Categories

posted: September 15th, 2013 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  Saturday, September 14th, Fresh Life Church sponsored what is most certainly the Flathead Valley’s most successful bicycle ride.  The ride was an un-timed event, and officials said the winner would be “the person who had the most fun.”  The event attracted over 400 participants and they came from all over the country, to include Canada. Though religion was apparent, it was not shoved.   People tell me that Levi Lusko, head pastor at Fresh Life Church in Kalispell, is a cycling fanatic.

Called the Huckleberry 100, the event actually included four different rides to include a 100-, 50- and a 25-mile ride.  It also included a family-length ride, which suggested you go about half as far as you want to go, then turn around.

HuckleberryRide-3

Over 300 cyclists, including me, participated in the Huckleberry 100 or the Huckleberry 50.

 

The most popular ride may have been the 50-mile ride, and it is the one for which I had trained (actually it is a lifestyle I’ve developed. See: Fonts Point, Hermit’s Rest, Logan Pass, Cuyahoga.  For another classic thrill see Impossible Railroad.) All of the events started from Kalispell’s city center and both the 50 and the 100 began by coursing south toward Flathead Lake, then through Bigfork Village, then out toward Foothill Road overshadowed by the beautiful Swan Mountain Range.  Finally, to complete a loop, the route headed back to Kalispell.  Those in the 100-mile ride ate lunch and then proceeded to Whitefish where they completed another loop that ultimately directed them back to Kalispell, so completing the Huckleberry 100.

Participants paid an entry fee but got back far more than they invested.  Fresh Life had solicited volunteers and stationed them at each turn in the course to provide directions.  As well, riders were provided a free lunch and a goody bag that included cycling items, such as wafers to replenish electrolites.

Though not officially timed, you can be sure that everyone took note of the hours and minutes required to complete their particular event.  Time, of course, included stops and breaks at several strategically placed rest stops, one near the beautiful Swan River.


HuckleberryRide-9 HuckleberryRide-5 HuckleberryRide-10


And they’re off (me in yellow); son David and Chelynne, his significant other, ride bikes to sidelines where they join other
well wishers; friends Jan and Dar also in race.


Everyone in the 50 and 100 started about 8 a.m. and I completed the ride well before noon.  I like to say that in my age category I came in first, but concede that I was passed by a few kids in their 50s, and lots more in their 30s.

Math suggests I averaged about 15 miles per hour, something that would have been impossible for me had I not trained hard.  True youngsters in their 20s probably averaged about 22 miles per hour.

But again, no one was keeping score.  What was important for me is that I meet a wonderful group of people whose sole purpose was simply to avail themselves of the healthy and wholesome life style Fresh Life was dramatizing through cycling.  The event was introduced several years ago and has grown in popularity. Many are repeat participants, and  I hope  to be included next year.  It’s appropriate for all ages.


THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

Unique Forces Create Hoodos (about Bryce Canyon)

BOOKS THAT MAY HELP WITH YOUR TRAVELS



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 »

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 »

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 »

Montana Could Be Dangerous to Your Health

posted: May 7th, 2013 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  Now back in the state I cherish above all others, but with some warnings for others.

Montana is the nation’s fourth largest state and it claims a population of about a million.  I started to say “only” but 1 million is a heap, especially when so many are crammed into only a few places.  It makes me think of the philosophy of a former Oregon governor, who said, “Visit then leave!”


MonidaPass (40 of 1)

Crossing into Montana after a seven month absence. Notice the barren highways. How will we cope?

 


The governor’s thoughts were made out of concern that his state might grow beyond its carrying capacity.  My cautionary  thoughts, however, are based on visitor safety, so I must warn readers that Montana winters are punctuated by terrifying temperatures (once -70) and that summers (once 117) are further harshened by hordes of mosquitoes. It is no exaggeration to say that the state has at least three different species, and that each is large enough to stand flat footed and make love to a turkey.  You need to know these things!

All of our insects are huge, and can sometimes create plagues, something to always keep in mind, especially if you are thinking of taking up permanent residence.  If you are, let me also remind readers that we have horse flies. Zillions!

Just remember that with grizzlies, horrifying weather and bugs, Montana can be a dangerous place.   (Note, too, the extreme elevations –above.  And note, too, the posting below on rattlesnakes.)

Another day and we’ll be home after a seven month absence.  The adjustment from road to home may require counseling, or perhaps we’ll simply flout the harshness of some Montana summers and park our Airstream up the Yaak, outside the Dirty Shame Saloon. We’ll reread the great books listed below, which will help us recall all that we used to do.

Cheers… !


—————————-


THIS TIME LAST YEAR: 

*A Most Pleasant Day With Rattlesnakes


—————————

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 | 4 Comments »

Montana Icons – a Book of Western History and Photography

posted: November 15th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  True to its name, Montana is home to miles upon miles of snow-capped mountain peaks, but the lure of this state often begins beside the meandering blue-ribbon trout streams and in the saloons, (yep, we still have ‘em) ghost towns, and hot spring that appear along countless lazy back roads.

The past is well preserved in the dinosaur digs, Western art museums, and generations-old farms and ranches that dot the landscape; and along the many cool, forested trails and the clear, quiet rivers, it just might seem like time has come to a halt.  Montana Icons: Fifty Classic Symbols of the Treasure State illustrates the quintessential symbols that make Montana so fascinating and unique with 50 stories, and 100 photographs.

Bison In Crow Country Sandhill  Cranes Garnet Ghost Town Missouri River



Profiled here are fifty classic symbols of this extraordinary western state, revealing little-known facts, longtime secrets, and historical legends.  From cowboy poetry and Native American powwows to whitewater rafting and breathtaking hikes, here’s the inside story about the very things that give Montana its character.

Did you know that the first cover photo of Life magazine was taken in Montana?  That the only existing physical evidence of the Lewis and Clark Expedition is preserved in a sandstone outcropping along the Yellowstone River?  That the Treasure State has the world’s largest collection of Tyrannosaurus rex fossils? Or that one of Montana’s first territorial governors was an Irish revolutionary who fled his home country to escape a death sentence?  For Montanans and newcomers alike, Montana Icons will be a treasured keepsake of Big Sky Country. Book measures 7×7 and includes 102 pages.


MyHerosJerryJacobs ChiefP-C Young Trick Rider Chief Joseph Battlefield Stars

 

 

The book is illustrated with 50 full-page images and an equal number of smaller “spot” photographs.  The text is written in essay form and the quality has been shaped through the years that Bert has contributed to many of the country’s major magazines, including Field & Stream, Smithsonian and Travel & Leisure. Airstream Life Magazine also uses his work, and one traveler and state aficionado wrote Bert saying:


WHAT READERS ARE SAYING : *I just finished reading your latest book “MONTANA ICONS” yesterday and you outdid yourself. The photos are great (wish there were more) and the stories about the “icons” were wonderful and made us feel we were right there. Tom and Sandi Palesch (Airstream travelers and magazine contributor)


*What a great gift! When I unwrapped our copy of Montana Icons, I knew we were in for a treat – as is always the case with a Gildart book. Every traveler will appreciate the stories and photographs that capture the awesome and unique character of this state and its’ inhabitants. Every turn of the page takes you to a place where you’d rather be! Adam and Sue Maffei


 

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You can buy Montana Icons: Fifty Classic Symbols of the Treasure State right here, from the authors. We’ll send it to you by USPS, and we’ll even autograph it for you with your choice of inscription. We use PayPal to allow us to take credit card orders. You don’t need to have a PayPal account, you can use any credit card, and the merchant (Bert and Janie) never sees your card number. And PayPal is very secure.

  • 102 pages ~ 100 photographs ~ 50 Montana locations
  • Hardcover
  • Get an autographed copy of Montana Icons
  • $16.95 plus $2.50 shipping

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“The Ride From Hell”

posted: September 17th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: One of the best mountain bike rides in the valley proceeds from the base of Big Mountain (the bottom of the chairlift) and proceeds about 8 miles uphill to the summit.  Some people take the chairlift to the top, then zoom back down a trail, returning to the base.

But my son-in-law, Will Friedner, considered ourselves lucky because we didn’t have that choice.


Big Mountain (1 of 5)

Ride to the top of Big Mountain provides inspiring scenery

 


Our timing was perfect, for chairlifts had closed for the summer season just a few days earlier, meaning that if we wanted to take in the spectacular view, we’d have to ride.

HANDICAP NEEDED?

Something that I didn’t share with Will as he began to lag behind is that I have a relatively new mountain bike with exceptionally low gearing.  It’s also lighter.

“But shouldn’t I, Will, be entitled to some kind of age-related handicap?  After all I am almost 40 years your senior.”

That was my mantra, and all day long  I played it like a broken record.

Big Mountain (3 of 5)

Located about midway up our mountain bike trail.

Over the past year I’d also been riding almost every day, hoping to participate in a 100-mile-long ride in Moab, Utah. I wanted to join a group called TNT (Team In Training) that makes endurance rides around the country attempting to raise money for cancer. The cause is exceptional and because I’ve recently worked up to the point where I was making comparable rides here in the Flathead, I was disappointed when work piled up I felt I should withdraw and try another time.

Janie and I were to have rendezvoused with friends (Hi Debbie!) from the Washington D.C. area, and that added to the disappointment.

CONTROVERSIAL STATUE

As we rode, we passed a controversial statue of Jesus.  The statue stands about 12-feet high, and has generated acrimony.  The statue had been erected on public land, and some want it torn down, believing it infringes on the philosophy of the  separation of church and state.  This faction continues, saying that enough is enough; that everywhere you turn in the Flathead  Valley groups have posted Ten Commandment signs.  And that observation is certainly true.

But others say that because the statue was erected by soldiers returning during WWII, that it should be left in place.

The lines are drawn, and as with all issues in this highly charged political season, no one is “turning their check.”


NO DOWNHILL CRAZIES

At any rate, Will and I had an enjoyable day and because there was no chair taking people to the top, we didn’t have to worry about crashing with downhill riders who tend to go hell-bent for leather. Whitefish Lake was gorgeous and I knew Will had enjoyed the outing as he later summarized our 16 mile trip for my daughter, calling it the “Ride From Hell.”


RETURN TO THE DESERT

Today, Janie and I are leaving for an extended trip to the desert.  Previously, we’ve tried to photograph tarantulas migrating across the desert in search of a mate, and we’re told that October could be a good month.

Big Mountain (5 of 5)

Our ride was backdropped by such beautiful features as Whitefish Lake.

 


We’ll be staying in Borrego Springs, and because temperatures are near 100, we will be  checking in to a commercial campground for the electricity needed to run our air conditioner.


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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

*CMR Host Annual Elk Spectacle

YET MORE AIRSTREAM TRAVELS

*This is the anniversary of the battle at Antietam, and several years ago  we were there

ADS FROM AMAZON AND GOOGLE AUGMENT OUR TRAVELS


(You can order our new books (shown below ) from Amazon — or you can order them directly from the Gildarts. Bert will knock a dollar off the list price of $16.95, but he must add the cost of book-rate mailing and the mailer, which are $2.25. The grand total then is $18.20. Please send checks to Bert Gildart at 1676 Riverside Road, Bigfork, MT 59911.)

 

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Goats of Glacier’s Hidden Lake

posted: July 22nd, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  The view from the Hidden Lake Overlook is one of Glacier National Park’s most spectacular, but goats and the chance to show family the spectacles all combined to add another dimension.


GlacierGoats (12 of 1)

One of the many goats which make the Hidden Lake Overlook area its summer home.

 

That said we almost didn’t make it.  We had planned to drive from the park’s West Entrance to Logan Pass, but when we arrived at the entrance station rangers informed us that a mudslide had closed the west side of Going-to-the-Sun-Road.  (A link here to a video of the mudslide.)

Logan Pass, however, was still open, but to visit this high point along the Going-to-the-Sun Road we would have to drive an additional 2-½ hours to the park’s east side, and access the pass from St. Mary.  Of course I said I was unsure (which means no mendacity) about the extra driving time, believing that no one should leave Montana without a visit to the famed pass, so my motives were pure.

We started the 1.5 mile hike from the pass at about 2 p.m. and reached the overlook an hour or so later.  Our group consisted of Janie’s daughter Karen, husband Alun, and the three grandchildren, Cassie, Griff, and Piper.  And, of course, it included Janie and me.


GlacierGoats-7 GlacierGoats-6 GlacierGoats-1


L to R: Karen, Griff, Cassie, Piper and Alun, searching for goats, grizzly bears, Columbian ground squirrels, ptarmigan and hoary marmots, and having some luck. (CLICK ANY IMAGE TO SEE IT ENLARGED.)


The upper portion of the trail was covered with snow which added to the challenge of the hike, but that’s where we saw goats.  Alun and Piper (the youngest) may have seen the first goat, which approached them from a nearby boulder field.  Moments later we saw a nanny and a kid, then an entire group of about seven.

Karen encountered one just as she departed from a grove of trees, and I’m not sure which of the two was the most startled. Except for the small kid, all the other goats were in the process of shedding their fur, and much had accumulated on branches in nearby trees.  At this time of year, adult goats appear to have the mange, but all fur grows back by early fall as the animals  prepare for the onslaught of winter’s snow and cold.


GlacierGoats (13 of 1) GlacierGoats-5 GlacierGoats-10


L to R:  Billy goat overlooking Hidden Lake, Nanny with kid, protective nanny.


Without a question, our most spectacular sighting was that of a lone billy (male) sanding on a rock prominence overlooking Hidden Lake.  Surrounding us were mountains with names such as Heavy Runner, Bear Hat, Clements and Reynolds.  And in the middle, tucked into a glacial cirque, glimmered turquois-colored Hidden Lake, much of which was still covered with winter ice.  Flanking the lake were also thousands of glacial lilies, a flower associated with early spring, and that is precisely what it was in this park of grand and lofty mountains.


GlacierGoats (14 of 1)

Goat approaching Hidden Lake Overlook, GNP

 


More than anything Cassie had wanted to see a hoary marmot and on the way back down, she got her wish. Griff had wanted to see a grizzly bear (in the distance!), and often that happens, just not on our trip.  Though there was a bit of wind, the day really seemed perfect, and I’ll be anxious to see just how this group feels about this long day’s trip, say a month or so down the line.


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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS ONE YEAR AGO:

Montana Sleazy Saloon Tour

 

GILDART BOOKS FOR SALE: 

(You can order our new books (shown below ) from Amazon or you can order them directly from the Gildarts.  Bert will knock a dollar off the list price of $16.95, but he must add the cost of book-rate mailing and the mailer, which are $2.25.  The grand total then is $18.20. Please send checks to Bert Gildart at 1676 Riverside Road, Bigfork, MT  59911.)



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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Avian Actors

posted: June 27th, 2012 | by:Bert

killdeer2©Bert Gildart: Each evening I’ve been riding my road bike (just like in Anza Borrego — Biking Fanatic) along our country road near Bigfork, Montana.  As well as providing just plain good exercise, the ride also keeps me in touch with many of the activities of members from our local avian populations.

Because it seems as though there are more Killdeer this year than what we’ve seen before I’ve become particularly interested in the species. But aside from abundance, Killdeer have a most interesting means of protecting their young, and that makes them particularly fascinating.

During the incubation period and then, later, meaning right now, adult Killdeer attempt to lure those that approach too close to their nest using their broken-wing act. The display indicates they have started building nests or may, in fact, have even laid their eggs. Because the eggs are mottled, they are difficult to see.

FRANTIC DISPLAYS

But Killdeer don’t know that. All they’re hoping is that their frantic displays will lure you away from what they value so highly. Instinct tells them that by faking injury, you and I will be attracted to them, and that we’ll follow wherever they lead, which is, of course, away from their nests.

As you’ll see from the picture, Killdeer eggs blend with the ground so they were difficult to find.  But eventually I found them, and shortly thereafter I set up a blind so as not to disturb the adults.  Almost immediately the nesting pair returned to the job of incubating.


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Killdeer are excellent actors and with bleats and with their broken-wing acts, generally succeed in luring predators away from nests.

 


Soon they’ll hatch and when they do nature has endowed them with the ability to almost immediately take care of themselves. Appropriately, Killdeer are classified as “precocial” and they epitomize the designation, for within days they are capable of flight.  Typically, they’ll soon be gone, and I’ll miss their antics as I ride along our country road.


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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS LAST YEAR:

*Bannack Montana

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Oregon Grape, Beautiful Spring Harbinger That Has Many Practical Uses

posted: May 22nd, 2012 | by:Bert

OregonGrape-2©Bert Gildart: Oregon grape is now growing in profusion in our back yard, just as it is in areas all over the northwest.  It’s a harbinger of spring but also one of my favorite plants, a judgement that began years ago.

In a college botany class each student was required to create a plant collection then select one species from the collection and describe everything about it that might make it interesting.  I selected Majonia repens (Oregon grape) because it was not only beautiful but functional as well.

RECLASSIFICATION

As seen, the plant produces a cluster of small, bright yellow flowers, each of which contains six petals, nine sepals, six stamens.  Not too much prior to my college collection the plant was reclassified.

Previously the plant had been grouped with the genus Berberis, but because that genus also included 500 other plants botanists renamed Oregon grape and designated it Majonia.

Interestingly, come fall the plant produces a grape which is high in Vitamin C and was once used to treat scurvy. Many still collect the berry which is crushed and made into a jelly.  Indians crushed and dried the yellow roots to cure such maladies as heartburn, rheumatism, kidney problems, and some skin conditions.

PHOTO TECHNIQUES

With its yellow flowers the plant is a delight to photograph and to accentuate the vibrant yellow color I decided I wanted a black background.  As a result, I set my tripod mounted camera on manual, then set my two strobes to “slave.”  I went to the camera’s menu, found the appropriate window to designate my on-camera strobe to master, then chose an aperture of f32 to maximize depth of field.


OregonGrape-1

Oregon grape, not only a harbinger of spring but one with an abundant number of uses.

 


Then, to completely overpower existing daylight, I set the shutter to 250th of a second. Because I had no photo assistant I set the camera for a 15 second delayed exposure so I could step away from the camera and hand hold the strobes.  Recently fallen rain increased the plant’s color saturation.

It’s a technique that works well for me.


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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS FOUR YEARS AGO:

*Arctic Grayling Now Spawning


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A Most Pleasant Day With Rattlesnakes

posted: May 18th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Almost the moment we departed our truck parked along Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front, Janie shouted that we should stop.  “Stop,” she said.  “It’s a rattlesnake.”

Actually, that is what we were trying to find, but the observation was much sooner then we expected.  Several years ago our good friends, David and his wife VV, told us about a rattlesnake den they’d found while hiking. David said that subsequent to that time they’d often returned, for in the spring they had seen literally dozens of snakes near the mouth of the den.


Snake-30

Western Prairie Rattlesnake

 

OUT EARLY THIS YEAR

At this time of year, they were intertwined, still sharing the warmth of one another’s bodies.  But this year was different. Warm summer-like weather elevated temperatures and some snakes had apparently already left the den.  Still, we hoped some remained, and we continued our hike, passing a hole into which Janie’s snake had quickly disappeared.  “Snakes,” said David, “are generally defensive.  Given a chance, they’ll always scurry away.

Thirty minutes later we approached a rock-strewn slope.  It was located on the south side of a hill and so was warmed by the winter sun.  And, yes, we saw snakes, almost immediately.  They were the western prairie  rattlesnakes, and almost immediately they began to rattle.

Snake-45 Snake-46 DavidShea-46


L TO R: Rattlesnake country is beautiful country, highlighted by sedimentary rock often covered by colorful lichens; rattlesnake den in center of photo and at bottom; David surveying country from inside an eagle pit, once used by Native Americans for capturing eagles.


They were under rocks and in the crevasses of our sandstone hill.  But as we suspected, many had apparently departed, for last year at this time David had seen literally dozens of snake intertwined like so much spaghetti.

These snakes, however, were not happy about our presence. Simultaneously, one elevated its tail and head and we gave it a wide berth until it settled down.  Then with a long telephoto lens I approached it.  I wanted a close-up shot and because the close focusing distance of my lens was about eight feet I inserted an extension tube and was able to approach within about six feet.  David, who has made a study of snakes said they can’t strike more than about half their body length, and I was well beyond that distance.

PIT VIPERS

Rattlesnakes are classified as pit vipers, and the close-up images shown here reveal these pits just below their eyes.  They serve as heat sensors and when hunting, the pits inform snakes where they should strike their prey.  These pits have an effective range of approximately one foot, but they provide the rattlesnake with a distinct advantage in hunting for warm-blooded creatures at night.

One of the snakes posed nicely beside a translucent sheath and I realized it was a discarded skin, though probably not a recent one.  As snakes grow they shed their skins, and apparently do so several times a year.  Later I found a baby rattlesnake and David said to be careful.  “Before they can rattle,” said David, “they must have two rattles.”  This one had but a “button,” a single rattle.  Though it could shake its tail, there was nothing for the one rattle (the button) to rattle against.


Snake-12 Snake-1 Snake-31



L TO R:  Click pictures one and two for larger image and to easily see “pits” of snake located just below eyes.  Though rattlesnakes are defensive, when approached too close, they will assume aggressive posture, showing head elevated, tongue out and tail up.

Rattlesnakes travel with their rattles held up to protect them from damage, but in spite of this precaution, their day-to-day activities in the wild still cause them to regularly break off end segments. As a result there is no correlation between age and the number of rattles.

GIVE BIRTH TO LIVING YOUNG

Unlike many other snakes, rattlesnakes give birth to living young.  In other words, they are, according to an old college professor of mine, “viviperous.” Depending on size and age, females rattlesnakes produce from 10 to 20 young once every two to three years.  Most young don’t make it past their first year, and are preyed upon by a variety of different birds.

Rattlesnakes are also destroyed by people, and as we returned from our trip, a fellow drove up in a rundown truck and said he was out killing snakes.  “I’ve gotten two already,” said the fellow with a glazed look of one who had just stepped out of a bar. As snake defenders we said that without them the country would be overrun with rodents.  Realizing our opinions differed the man jammed his truck into gear and spun off in a cloud of dust and small rocks.

“So much for jerks,” we said, and recounted our day’s activities discussing the eagle pit (used by Native Americans to capture eagles) we’d seen and the beautiful country through which we hiked.  We were also fascinated by the incredible biology of snakes and concluded we’d had a most successful day.


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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS THREE YEARS AGO:

*Organ Pipe Restrospective

 

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Glacier Icons — Guaranteed to be A Winner

posted: January 9th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Here at Pegleg the New Year was ushered in with barely a peep, but shortly thereafter all sorts of good news begin filtering in.  Based on news from the first week of 2012 this could be a pretty good year for Janie and me.


BW-Falls


First, I’ve just received an advanced copy of my new book, Glacier Icons, and I think (obviously)  it represents high-quality  work.  Though the book consists of about a hundred  images, essentially the book takes 50 large photographs (such as the one above and four  below) and complements them with an essay.  Smaller images round out the stories.

EXCERPTS:

Typically essays are relatively short, but each packs in much information. Here are a few introductory excerpts:


*Throughout North America, many species of wildlife engage in ritualistic contests to determine male order of dominance.  In the animal world, few contests are more vigorous or the ritual more complex than among mountain sheep…

*When one compares the various traits of the grizzly with those of the black, there is one distinct feature that immediately separates the two species. That, of course, is temperament…   There is reason for this behavior which is linked with environmental features that existed long ago…



GNP-11908 w-t-ptarmigan G-bear 52167



* Hard, wind-blown snow comes early to the park’s high peaks.  It drives the elk down into the low country; it covers the boulder-strewn home of the mouse-like pika; and it sends the powerful grizzly bear scurrying to its den for a long winter’s nap.  In fact, the rugged alpine country forces just about every type of creature to leave or hide.  But there always remains a beautiful little one-pound animal, a bird called the ptarmigan…

SHIPMENT ON WAY

In several weeks we’ll have a shipment here at Pegleg of Glacier Icons.  The book will sell for $16.85, and certainly we’re hoping that anyone going to Glacier might  purchase a copy. Of course, you’ll be able to get it in Glacier or from Globe Pequot, but get it from us, and I’ll autograph and provide a personalized note.


There is yet more news.  I am flattered that Bill, a fellow blog writer, singled out some of my photography and made it the focus of one of his postings.  One day I’ll have to reciprocate, as I believe Bill is not only an excellent writer, but a top-notch photographer as well.


OldRag-3

Ascending Old Rag

 


The other good news is that Globe Pequot has just shared with me the cover of a book about Shenandoah that Janie and I spent last summer updating.  This, our fourth edition of Hiking Shenandoah, is much expanded and includes more on natural history.  Additionally, all images are in color. The cover depicts Adam Maffei standing near Dark Hollow Falls.  But the book’s interior  also includes one of him climbing Old Rag, shown here.

There’s more yet to report, but I’ll save that for another posting.  In this posting, more than anything else, I hope you’ll  think, Glacier Icons.


NOTE: From Chris (Where The Bear Walks), I have just learned of the sad passing of Roy Ducat, companion of Julie Helgeson’s in Night of the Grizzly.


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Airstream Travels Three Years Ago:

*The Compulsion of Borrego Badlands


Ads From Amazon and Google Augment our Travels:




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Tamaracks — The Deciduous Conifer That Can Turn Heads

posted: November 7th, 2011 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: As we departed Montana two days ago, driving over Lookout Pass, the tamarack trees glowed in a way one seldom ever sees.  The species holds the distinction of being the only coniferous tree that sheds its needles.  This aspect of their biology creates a beauty shared by no other North American conifer.


Tamaracks-1

For a few weeks each fall tamaracks cover the hill sides with their evanescent light, appearing for awhile like huge golden torches.

 


Properly described, the species is a deciduous conifer and in the fall, generally around November, needles of the tamarack turn to a rich yellow and then stay that way for several weeks.  But as the season progresses, the  gold coloration gives way to rich brown.  Eventually, virtually all the needles are excised from the tree and then they stand barren, waiting for spring when the cycle repeats itself.

But right now few species can claim more beauty.  True, the New England states have maples and birch that punctuate the landscape with their yellows and reds and the south its profusion rich berries, but I maintain that few settings can compare with Montana when tamaracks turn gold and when they in turn are back dropped with a fresh dusting of snow.

That’s the way it was the other day as we passed over Lookout Pass. The beauty of the scene prompted many to pull to the side of the highway for a lingering look, suggesting that some, at least, are still awed by the basic transformations of nature.

 

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THIS TIME THREE YEARS AGO:

*Sheep Wear Biographies on Their Horns

 

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Montana’s Conrad Mansion Rendered with HDR

posted: November 6th, 2011 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: At the moment we are camped in a KOA just outside of Spokane.  We were bound for Sutton RV where we’re scheduled to have a few repairs made to our RV all covered by the warranty that came with our new Airstream.

Those who have followed will recall we had to purchase a new RV because of the extensive filiform corrosion sustained last winter as we traveled over Monida Pass.  From Suttons we will be heading to the warmth of the desert.Just prior to leaving I visited the Conrad Mansion in Kalispell to create images of one of Montana’s wealthiest families, the Conrads.


Mansion2 Conrad Mansion Mansion4

Because flash is not allowed in the mansion, I had visited with friends from Boise who are experts on the use of a technique called HDR, standing for “high dynamic resolution.”

The technique requires the use of a tripod and the bracketing of exposures of the same setting.  Typically, anywhere from three to six or more images are recorded of the same exact setting, then using a program such as Photomatrix, the images are superimposed one on the other – then merged.


Mansion3

HDR tends to create exaggerated colors; the trick is to control that tendency.

 


The theory is that in the course of taking multiple images one will have created the proper exposure for all elements in the scene ranging from the most extreme highlights to the densest shadows. This was my first attempt, but with lots of help from Todd and Jack (my companions on the recent trip to Wildhorse) I think I have made a good first start.  I’ll work on reducing some of the extreme colors, but have included them here because they show colors that might be useful in creating “Photo Art.”


Mansion5

Bedroom once used by Theodore Roosevelt and then by cowboy artist Charles M. Russell.

 


Not so incidentally, the image of the bedroom shows the bed and room in which both Theodore Roosevelt and Charles M. Russell stayed while visiting the Conrads.  Obviously these are Christmas scenes and hopefully my images have captured all the wonderful decorations staff at the mansion have displayed for the Christmas season. They helped me with ideas and with detailed explanations of the mansion’s history, and several of the images will most certainly be used in our book Montana Icons.  Glacier Icons will be in the warehouse of Globe Pequot December 15th and ready at that time for nation-wide distribution.


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THIS TIME TWO YEARS AGO:

*Athabascan Fiddle Festival


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Violence on Montana’s Wildhorse Island

posted: October 28th, 2011 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Throughout North America, many species of wildlife engage in ritualistic contests to determine male order of dominance during the mating season.  In the animal world, few contests are more vigorous nor is the ritual more complex than among mountain sheep.  I have followed sheep throughout much of North America and have always considered it a rare treat when I stumble across action such as I enjoyed with two other photographers a few days ago.


Wildhorse-3

When all else fails, rams resort to violence.

 

We had left Dayton, Montana and then made the 15 minute trip by boat to Wildhorse Island where we beached in a small cove known as Skidoo Bay.  The island is mountainous and we immediately began to climb, looking as we did for wild horses, the island’s namesake.  Instead we saw a few small deer but then, off in the distance, a herd of “bachelor” rams.

RAMS HUDDLE

At this time of year, males are still in groups, where they begin determining a “pecking” order.  They gather in groups known as “huddles” where they curl their lips at one another, poke one another with their hooves, and nudge one another with their horns. A great deal of information is exchanged in such groups, information that often helps determine male order of dominance without having to resort to “violence.”  But when doubt remains, rams sometimes resort to battles, which can sometimes produce injury.


Wildhorse-4 Wildhorse-5 Wildhorse-6


L to R: Todd Campbell, engulfed by the beauty of Wildhorse Island, focuses  on nearby action; Jack Floegel approaches herd of rams near top of Wildhorse; bachelor herd of rams “huddle” to exchange information.


We continued our climb and found several of our bachelor herds, and as we watched we saw several rams that appeared huge.  We also saw several that appeared on the verge of a violent confrontation and we set up our camera gear, waiting to see what might happen.  We were not disappointed.

From a distance of about 50 yards we watched as two rams stalked off to a distance of about 30 feet, turned to face one another. Rising on hind legs they ran forward dropping at the last minute for increased momentum then collided.  In the stillness of the day the sound of their impact sounded like a high power rifle and we struggled to record the drama, which they repeated.  Though the impact must have produced immense headaches, in this case no eyes were poked out, no ribs were broken, though one of the males did appear to emerge as a solid champion, for the other ram stalked off.


Bighorn Sheep, Wildhorse Island Wildhorse-7


Toward day’s end we reluctantly leave behind one of the largest rams any of us have ever seen but find compensation when a group of ” wild” horses find us.


When the sheep tired we began to wander the island, finding more bachelor herds.  We looked as well for the island’s famous mule deer herds, but saw but one or two lone bucks.  And though we never found our wild horses, they found us near one of the old homestead shacks that still remained on the island.  They were a friendly group of about four and apparently had been fed in the past as they poked at our pockets, hoping perhaps for an apple.

Reluctantly, we departed near sunset, believing we had enjoyed a most successful day.


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THIS TIME TWO YEARS AGO:

*Bighorn Sheep Wear Biographies On Their Horns

 

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Bison Kill Site Contender For Designation as World Heritage Site

posted: October 17th, 2011 | by:Bert

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Don Fish explains significance of bison kill site.

©Bert Gildart:  Janie and I have been so extraordinarily busy that I have not had time to post on some of the many other exciting places we have seen this past month; and though we’re now back in  our OTHER home — catching up on other business matters — nevertheless, I want to post a few images of another place we highly recommend.

While in Great Falls we also visited what was known until recently as Ulm Pishkin State Park. Though little has changed, the site, now a contender for status as a World Heritage Site, is  known as First Peoples Buffalo Jump.

LARGEST OF BISON KILL SITES

Bison jumps are located all over Montana, but this is one of the largest of the prehistoric bison kill sites in the United States. A visitor center and interpretive trails tell the story of the people, the animals, and the landscape of the buffalo culture

Trails course throughout the park and Janie and I lucked out.  Don Fish, a Blackfeet Interpreter, was scheduled to lead a group of students, and teachers said they’d be glad to have us join.  As we hiked we learned from Fish that Indians used the area for over six-hundred years and that they would stampede buffalo to the edge of the mile-long cliff.  Though  bison might sense danger, by the time these beasts approached the lip of the cliff it was too late.

Bison rushing up from behind would force the front runners over the cliff, where they’d fall to their deaths.

SQUARE BUTTE ALWAYS INSPIRING

After hiking to the top of the cliff we then walked along the face, enjoying expansive views of not only the Rocky Mountain Front, but also of Square Butte, a setting that provided the famous Cowboy Artist Charles M. Russell as an inspiration for many of his paintings, to include several of Indians hunting buffalo.

 

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Don Fish leads school group to top of mile-long cliff face; bison jump, showing drop of approximately 30 feet; burial site of Native Americans back dropped by Square Butte, a setting that appears in several of famed cowboy artist Charles M. Russell paintings.

 

 

I’ll soon be posting a few other blogs of Montana travel areas which we recently enjoyed, but rRight now we’re scurrying around trying to prepare for a lengthy trip in our Airstream.  We plan to leave before the snows descend much lower (it’s capping the peaks now) in the valley.  We intend to take materials we have gathered about Montana to the desert, where we’ll finish the essays for our book about Montana.

Hopefully we’ll be out of her by the first week of November.  We don’t want to ever again take the chance of a state truck thoughtlessly dumping magnesium chloride in such as way that it will blast our Airstream.  In fact, we don’t want to think about the subject of filiform corrosion, preferring instead to say focused on such incredible subjects as the First Peoples Buffalo Jump.

 

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THIS TIME FIVE YEARS AGO

*Valley Forge


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A View Over Some of the Nation’s Most Varied History

posted: October 12th, 2011 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  So many travelers passed though what is now Montana’s Headwaters State Park that I am tempted to say it is one of the most significant state parks in the nation. Fall is also one of the most ideal times to visit the area.


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Camping at Headwaters State Park

 

Two days ago Janie and I climbed to the top of a relatively low prominence called Fort Rock, but it was high enough to see one of the most significant geographical features in all of North America.  From the top we could look to the west and see the confluence of the Jefferson and Madison Rivers.  We could then turn 180 degrees and just half a mile away, see these two rivers converge with the Gallatin to form the Missouri River.  Several days ago the entire area was absolutely gorgeous.  Huge mountain ranges surround these rivers to include the Bridgers, the Madison and Gallatin ranges, and the Tobacco Root Mountains, all covered with fall’s first dusting of snow.

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Parking lot for accessing Fort Rock, vantage from which one can see the convergence of the Madison and Jefferson Rivers. From here, the Jefferson appears large, the Madison (a little to the left of center) smallish

 


Lewis and Clark traveled this country and when they arrived here, thought all three rivers about equal in prominence believing that none was the Missouri River proper, rather that the three of them together formed this, the longest river in North America.  In his journals Captain Clark wrote “I saw several Antelope common Deer, wolves, beaver, otter, Eagles, hawks, crow, wild gees, both old and young, etc. etc.”

Because of the abundance of water the area was rich in wildlife, and was visited by all the area’s major tribes.  Later, the Three Forks was visited by trappers, and legend has it that it is here that John Colter made his historic run to escape the Blackfeet.  As the story goes, Indians captured Colter, stripped him of his clothes and then told him to run for his life.  A fast runner, Colter eluded all of the runners but one who was closing in with a spear. Before the warrior could thrust the spear, Colter grabbed it and killed the man.  Then he dove into the Missouri and hid from his other pursuers beneath a raft of reeds.

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From Fort Rock one can turn 90 degrees and see the Gallatin. If one turns 180 degrees one can see the actual convergence of this, the Gallatin, with the Jefferson and Madison.

 

Though the campground was officially closed for the season, we found a spot and “parked” for several nights.  Because we support our state parks, we nevertheless paid the $7.50 campground fee.

The Heritage Trail departed from nearby and invites cyclists and hikers.  A sign alerts users that this is also moose country and that bulls are in rut and that hikers should be careful.  Essentially, we had the whole place to ourselves.

For Janie and me, the stop was delightful and we continue to believe that fall can be one of the most enjoyable of times to travel the state.


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THIS TIME FOUR YEARS AGO:

*The Princess of Acadia


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“Cowgirl” Poet Petersen Touches Many with “Cow-boy” Verse and Humor

posted: October 9th, 2011 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: For the past few days Janie and I have been living  free off the fat of our great land, which in this case means parking our Airstream at an empty lot located behind the Grand Hotel in Big Timber, Montana.  Our purpose has been to position ourselves so that we might visit in various settings with one of the nation’s best known “Cowboy” Poets.


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"Campsite" outside the Grand Hotel (background) in Big Timber, Montana

 

We knew about Gwen Petersen from a Cowboy Poet Gathering we had attended several years ago in Lewistown, Montana.  Throughout that short weekend we had laughed with a number of great artists, but were particularly interested in Gwen, because she was a cow-woman poet.  Unlike most of her counterparts, Gwen had to break down barriers, contending with the challenge of “riding a range” most typically traveled by cowboys.

And so we found ourselves several nights ago at a bar in the Grand Hotel in Big Timber, Montana, conversing with Gwen over double shots of brandy-on-the-rocks. Though a widow she remains self assured — bolstered by an infectious sense of humor.

“Now,” she joked,  “I don’t have to cook, clean, or take criticism. I live like a man.”  In a humorous way she punctuated those thoughts with a few choice expletives prompting Janie and me to pull out a book we had used to brush up on Gwen’s background. From the last stanza of her poem A Cussin’ Woman:

…But let me step in fresh cow pie–
I take it as an omen;
So close your eyes and plug your ears–
Cuz I’m a cussin’ woman.

Gwen’s work has been published in over a dozen books to include: How to Shovel Manure and Other Life Lessons for the Country Woman; The Ranch Woman’s Manual; The Greenhorn’s Guide to the Woolly West;  Everything I know about Life I learned From My Horse; The Bachelor From Hell; and, How to be Elderly, among many others.

Because of these books (available on Amazon) and her appearances throughout the nation at anything and everything related to Cowboy Poetry, she has been dubbed “Erma Bombeck with some special problems with temperamental hired men, skunks and other varmints.” Janie thinks she is Phyllis Diller in a straw cowgirl hat.


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Reciting poetry

Though Gwen insists that it is life experiences and not so much a landscape’s features that has shaped her work, she invited us to her ranch so that we might see the Yellowstone River, which flanks her ranch; the horses she tends; the manure she steps around, or in; and the methods she has used to discourage “development” near her ranch.


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Tending horse, displaying “green” cattle skulls to discourage development near her ranch (sign reads “Beware of — Well, Just Beware”), shoveling hay and manure

 

How these aspects have given voice to her work remained unclear initially, but as we walked her ranch we got a feeling for the vastness of space that might shape a person’s  thoughts.  But I also got the impression that Gwen believed problems were best handled with humor — and with participation that did not allow defeat.

Janie and I suspect Gwen Petersen has ridden at full gallop after all her stray cows, and that she has cinched the rope on most.  We know that her Cowgirl Poetry has enriched the life of all those around her and that it has undoubtedly  lifted her own spirits with humor, enveloping a life that has allowed but few regrets and but little remorse.

That, of course, is exactly what cowboy poetry is supposed to do.

 

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THIS TIME FIVE YEARS AGO:

*Mount Katahdin


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