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 'View Point' Category

Park’s Immense Visitation Creating “Habituated” Bears

posted: August 16th, 2017 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Fifty years ago from yesterday (August 15, 1967), Leonard Landa and I shot the grizzly bear that killed Michele Koons, the fatally mauled young lady at Trout Lake, whom we had found three days earlier.  This then marks the end of the events that have conspired to create so much publicity for those of us involved in the episode now known as “Night of the Grizzlies.”  Approximately 10 different publications have related the story and used images for illustrations. I was particularly flattered two Sunday’s ago when the Great Falls Tribune featured an image of mine that ran horizontally across the entire  front page of the Sunday edition.  The Tribune is one of the state’s largest papers, and the accompanying story filled almost two full pages so extending my 15 minutes of fame to 17.



Most likely the Tribute selected this grizzly bear image as it tells the story not only of the animal’s magnificence but also
of its lethal capabilities. 
I photographed it about three years ago, and it quickly scurried on, as did I.


But now, speaking for myself, I hope this publicity soon winds down, but not before remarking that some good came from the two tragic maulings.  Most specifically David Shea, one of the rangers assigned to shoot the garbage-conditioned bears at Granite Park Chalet, says that prior to 1967 the park had been lax about separating people and bears.  “But not afterward,” emphasizes Shea.  Shea says those events precipitated a new Bear Management policy, and believes that for the most part “the plan has been working.”


Bear&Leonard

Leonard Landa examines the bear that he and
I shot and that proved to be the bear responsible for the fatal mauling of Michele Koons


But Shea is now concerned because hordes of people are descending on Glacier subsequent to last year’s National Park Centennial, and the unprecedented advertisement associated with that event.  “The park,” says Shea, “was not set up to contend with a million visitors each of the park’s four summer months.”  Shea notes that back in 1967 the park averaged about 100,000 visitors throughout the entire year.

Proximity of bears and humans then is the immense problem with which the park must now contend, and if they don’t, the “conditioning” that results from the close proximity of bears and people could very well create two more “killer” bears.

Neither Leonard nor I want to hear that two young rangers have found a young mangled girl whom they must then roll into a body bag.  That’s an indelible memory Leonard and I share; but along with it we wonder that the parents have survived as well as reported.  We both think their grief has been pushed into the background.

 

———-


Night of the Grizzly, from a post I created about 10 years ago

 

 

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In Glacier Bikes Should Prevail

posted: June 27th, 2017 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  Saturday, June 26th, I rode my bike through what is some of the world’s most spectacular country, and I did it on a day when it is safe to do so. Each year, the Glacier National Park road crew must plow the Going to the Sun Road (GTSR) before vehicular traffic can pass through. At a certain point park managers allow bikers to use the road but prohibit vehicles, and it is this period that so many of us look forward to. In fact, many of us wish the park would follow the lead of Grand Canyon and Zion. In those parks summer traffic had gotten so dense that they implemented shuttle service while simultaneously permitting bikers. I like the idea because summers in Glacier have become an absolute madhouse. Finding parking at the many pull overs and, too, at Logan Pass is an impossibility for traffic to Logan Pass is always bumper to bumper.


GNP-Bike-12

One of the best years for Weeping Wall, a Glacier Icon


I arrived at the Avalanche Creek parking lot — the spot along the (GTSR) where drivers must now stop — about 8 Saturday morning, and already that lot was getting full. But I quickly left that scene behind and began my 15 mile ascent to Logan Pass. Yes, there were lots of others riders but the distance between us increased as we began ascending the road. Most everyone passed me, and I told several who joked that, yes, I was ashamed to be left behind — because I probably had 50 years more experience than most other riders. But not all, and there were a number of oldermen and older women who were pumping right along.


Biking-15 LoganPass1

Heavens Peak Overlook back dropped by its namesake,
a mountain I climbed many years ago; approaching Logan Pass


I stopped often to take photographs and sometimes, simply to marvel. Waterfalls were running hard and heavy and when I reach Weeping Wall I stopped and plopped down on the cement retaining wall and ate lunch, realizing that in several weeks such quiet pleasure would be impossible. Mounting my bike again I soon began encountering some of the huge snow banks created by this past winter’s heavy storms.


MapOfRideToLP

On Saturday, June 24, the most distant point a person can drive is Avalanche Lake parking lot,
shown in green arrow. From here one must ride, and what a pleasure it was to be free of
the mountain of summer traffic, which will follow in about a week.


I reached Logan Pass about four hours after departing Avalanche and was amazed by the amount of snow still remaining. Hard packed banks partially covered the Visitor Center, but even more impressive — except for two cars probably used by members of the road crew — the parking lot was completely empty.

I wandered about for well over an hour, then started the 15 mile return ride. I gripped the breaks hard to keep my speed down to about 30. Here, again, many zipped by me, and some were not using much sense. As I approached the Heaven’s Peak Overlook I saw an ambulance and several ranger cars surrounding a biker who was prostrate. I suspect his speed had gotten out of control and he had crashed.

BikeLP-7 BikeLP-8 BikeLP-6

All photos made at Logan Pass, laden with snow on June 24th, 2017


I continued riding and soon returned to Avalanche Campground dense now with people trying to find a space. Many were shouting and screaming and I thanked my lucky stars that there are still a few ways people can find sanity. All together I’d ridden about 31 miles, ascended over 3,000 feet and both my forearms and legs felt used. But it was joy to experience Glacier as I had once known it, and am absolutely convinced that if the Park Service wants to retain the spiritual quality of lands they administer they must find some way of controlling visitation. Biking would be a good fit.

—————————-

 

This Time Three Years Ago:

Logan Pass in June 2013

 

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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Biking to Logan Pass

posted: June 12th, 2017 | by:Bert

Biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road before it opens to vehicular traffic is an excellent way to see Glacier National Park.  But better make the ride just as soon as you can after the plows reach the pass (check the Internet), and that will be soon. A week or so after clearing the snow, the road will then be open for vehicular traffic transforming the area from a place of serenity to one that is so congested that impatient people will be blaring their horns — and parking at Logan Pass will quickly become a virtual impossibility.

Grand Canyon and Zion national parks have each made closures on a few roads, stipulating that during peak season only bikers and shuttle buses can enter.  Something like that may one day be necessary in Glacier to protect the resource.

Tunnel-300x225 8057538860_9c224c6988 GNP-Bike-8

LtoR: Riding through a tunnel just before approaching the West Side Loop;
Access to Hermit’s Rest in the Grand Canyon is by shuttle and bike only; 
Logan Pass shortly after pass opened last year.


WRITE YOUR REPRESENTATIVE:

Make the ride and then write your representative asking that the middle portions of the Going-to-the-Sun Road be closed permanently to cars. Propose that Glacier follow the example of Zion and the Grand Canyon, which allow access to certain areas only by shuttle — and by bike. Last summer by 10 in the morning all parking had been taken at Logan Pass. Closure to vehicles might also eliminate visitors with shitty attitudes. The aged can still drive in these restricted areas, and so can the handicapped if they have a driver.

Here’s a repeat of a posting I made on Facebook serveral years ago that highlights the pleasure of BIKING TO LOGAN PASS. There could not have been a more perfect day for my daughter and son-in-law to make the 32-mile round-trip bike ride from the parking lot at Avalanche Campground to Logan Pass, an elevation gain of over 3,000 feet. At this time of year, the road is open for bicycle riders and emergency vehicles only.

GNP-Bike-13

In June waters cascade down the most
appropriately named “Weeping Wall.”

Though it was cool when we departed we quickly shed our windbreakers, then progressed along McDonald Creek. Almost immediately the Going-to-the-Sun Road began to climb, passing first through a tunnel, then to the West Side Loop where we took a few photos back dropped by majestic Heaven’s Peak, which I once climbed.

From the Loop our ride passed dozens of water falls and the climb was demanding. We stopped at Bird Woman Overlook where we had lunch, then rested, we continued up to Weeping Falls, which at this time of year was absolutely gushing with snowmelt.

An hour later I rode into the snow-cleared parking lot at Logan Pass. Leaning my bike against a towering snow bank I spent an hour or more photographing the incredible fields of snow still remaining. The Logan Pass Visitor Center was literally covered with snow and was certainly not yet ready to greet the summer hordes.


GNP-Bike-2 Biking-GTS-8

Angie and Will Friedner pause en-route to Logan Pass, backdropped by
Bird Woman Falls;
Return form Logan Pass for a total of abut 32 miles,
which makes for a day of fun and health-filled activities

 

Though it took me several hours to ascend to Logan Pass, from there it was all downhill, which I enjoyed — coasting along at about 30 mph. That seemed like a sane speed, but apparently not everyone agreed. On the way up we’d almost collided with some downhill riders who must have been cruising at dangerous speeds, perhaps 45mph.

And that may account for the day’s sad experience.  As Will and Angie approached the West Side Loop they encountered a small group gathered around a lady who had either crashed or been hit by as an out-of-control rider. Blood covered the road where she was laying and she was immobile.  Park ranger responded quickly. An emergency helicopter soon flew in and took her to the hospital. We have no idea what the outcome might have been.

BEST WAY TO EXPERIENCE THE PARK:

Certainly that was a very unfortunate incident, but other than that our day was glorious, and later, WE AGREED THAT BIKING IS THE BEST WAY TO EXPERIENCE THE PARK. By July, hordes of visitors have massed, and when that happens, numbers are so OVERWHELMING that in recent years parking spaces at Logan Pass are completely taken.  That’s when competition for parking gets mighty nasty.


———————————–


OTHER BIKING EXPERIENCES ON NATIONAL AND STATE LANDS:

Anza Borrego

Learning from Biking

 

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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WHAT I LEARN FROM BIKING

posted: May 14th, 2017 | by:Bert

BikeRiverside-26

NOT ALWAYS, BUT QUITE OFTEN, I ride my bike to assess the personality of the valley in which I live (near Bigfork, Montana). Sometimes I find that I am disturbed, but, generally, I find that I am cheered by valley beauty and the response of people who are also using my road. I wave at everyone, and most everyone waves back. Their waves, however, are probably more genuine then mine for I wave to remind them that we do share the road and that it would inconvenience them greatly were they to hit me. So far positive experiences out number negative experiences, allowing me to focus on riding techniques and, sometimes, on self-evaluations.

Map-RiddingData

Map created by Garmin mounted on my handle bars,
showing length of ride, time, temperature,
average moving speed and other interesting aspects of a route.


At times I like to compare the timing of my rides with those of top professionals finding that there is no way I could compete. That really surprises me as I have about 50 years more experience than do most riders I see along the way.

The most famous cycling race of course is the Tour de France, and the fastest time (forget drugs, most everyone was on them) was recorded by Lance Armstrong in 1999, whose average speed was 25 mph. That’s a speed I can barely hold for even a few minutes, though several days ago I did manage to reach 32mph during a 27-mile ride. However, I’d be lying by omission if I didn’t admit a stubborn wind was helping me along.


ArrowleafBalsamRoot RobQuist Stream

Several days ago my focus was on natural history and on the unsavory way
in which competing neighbors deal with one another.


Up until a year or so ago I was able to average 17 mph, but only for about an hour; then I’d slow down and try to maintain an average of 15 mph, which I can sometimes do for several hours. But that’s nothing. In 1986 Peter Penseyres rode 3107 miles and during the eight-plus-day ride, averaged 15.40 mph.

And how about the fastest biker ever? It scares me just to think about it but in 2009 Sam Whittingham of British Columbia reached a speed of 82.3-miles per hour. He was riding over a level road and his bike was top of the line, consisting of a carbon fiber frame wrapped with Kevlar bodywork.

That irks me as my bike features some of the same components. Guess I’ll just have to try harder, but the fact of the matter is that I’m generally riding to better understand the surroundings in which I live. In other words my times might improve if I didn’t stop so often to take pictures, which I did two days ago, May 5th. Spring flowers, such as the arrow leaf balsamroot, are now informing me that spring is neigh. And so are the many small creeks now roaring through age-old gullies.

Human habitation also interests me and throughout my ride political signs screamed out that despite our beautiful environment some neighbors must absolutely despise one another. Property owned by politician Rob Quist abuts a neighbor who must glorify Greg Gianforte, Quist’s Republican opponent for The House of Representatives.


BikeRiverside1-1

Spur road that links with my traditional route.

Several days ago I rode by these properties and noticed that Quist’s neighbor had mounted an overwhelming sign that glowered over Quist’s driveway. And then just the other day, when I rode by, I realized that Quist’s diminutive sign had been yanked out and probably trashed. Suddenly I peddled vigorously, determined now to vote for Quist, not because of the bullying, but more because he provides good evidence that he is for the preservation of public lands.

Biking helps me with many observations, often allowing me to feel things I might have missed: messages from signs – but more often the obscure expressions of the beauty provided by nature. I hope I can bike forever and that some of you can join me – and share your thoughts.


——

 

THIS TIME THREE YEARS AGO:

Glacier and the Absolute Joy of Early Season Biking


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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TOM ULRICH 1948 TO FEBRUARY 10, 2017

posted: February 12th, 2017 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Tragically, Tom Ulrich, a nationally renowned photographer, profoundly individualistic man, and genuinely good person, passed away early Friday morning. His demise has created a void for his many friends, and Janie and I know that includes us.

Tom and I have been buddies since the mid-70s when we shared the aspiration of becoming photographers, a difficult profession to break into.  Initially, Tom worked as a teacher, but he found the classroom too confining and decided to move to Montana where he lived out of his van until he built his own cabin several years down the road.  But in the 1970s he needed to balance his income, and to do so he tapped into unique situations.


TomU Buddy (2 of 2)

Tom Ulrich was a highly creative photographer.  His dog “Buddy” knew how to pose, at least for Tom.

 

At the time, thousands upon thousands of salmon would migrate each fall from Flathead Lake to the upper reaches of rivers and streams near Glacier National Park.  Their numbers would attract anglers interested in snagging the spawning fish, but in the course of doing so they would lose thousands of relatively expensive triple hooks. Here’s where Tom came in.

OLYMPIC TRY OUT: Once Tom had been an Olympic swimming tryout, and he took those skills to the river. Donning scuba diving tanks and appropriate garb, he would swim along river bottoms retrieving lost hooks. He’d then bundle them up and resell them at various outlets he had established. Pricing the lures at eight for a dollar, returns were significant, because of the high volume.

Before long Tom’s photo business began to boom but he never got so busy he couldn’t help friends, and often that included Janie and me.  To supplement our income Janie and I had rentals, and once, when we returned from a trip we found one in a complete mess.  Shortly thereafter Tom called and invited us for dinner but we declined because we felt we had to get the mess cleaned up.  Tom didn’t say a thing, but about an hour later he showed up and spent the rest of the day helping us clean the mess, and that included painting a wall. That night we dined.


From Mountain MonarchsBook (1 of 1)


MOST PHOTOGRAPHED  DOG?

As the years went by Tom was becoming well known, but I didn’t realize the extent until one day in Denali National Park.  Initially, other Alaska photographers informed us they’d seen Tom that winter in some far off place.  But here’s what blew my mind.  To visit Wonder Lake in Denali, visitors have to take the bus, and it was crowded, forcing Janie and me to sit apart. My seatmate was congenial and wanted to know where we were from.  When I said Montana, he said he had just been at a photographer’s log cabin near West Glacier.  “You can’t mean Tom Ulrich,” I almost shouted.  “Yes, he said, and he was taking care of a dog called Sinopah.”

Well that was our dog and then we started visiting about his dog Buddy, whom we’d care for when Tom was on the road.  It was a reciprocal thing but this anecdote is really about Buddy and Tom, and recalling all the prizes Tom won dressing Buddy (his beautiful golden retriever) up in so many various ways.  Sometimes Buddy was a skier adorned with goggles, other times an old man or woman, dressed with the proper hat… even a snorkeler. Janie and I also remember the birthday parties Tom had for Buddy.

To reduce the cost of travel Tom and I sometimes teamed up, and whether it was the competitive edge or simply the fact that Tom’s enthusiasm set the standard I don’t know.  But it is hard to beat the image Tom made of three bighorns in Jasper, which Northword Press used for the centerpiece of my book on Mountain Monarchs.  Why hadn’t I seen that drama unfolding? But at Bosque Del Apache, we pushed each other, and at the crack of dawn we both clicked as thousands of snow geese rose from the waters.  I’ll always associate my image with Tom, remembering his penchant for hard work, which drove him relentlessly.

 

Snow Geese

Tom’s enthusiasm for trying to capture the very best
image was contagious and had us both up at the crack of dawn at Bosque Del Apache.


And that may have been the key to his success, for he certainly achieved the objectives he and I had talked about so long ago.  He published in hundreds of different periodicals; created books; lectured widely; led photo tours around the world, but often focused on Africa and South America; and has made friends everywhere, as Linda Martin (Tom’s significant other) and her Facebook page so testifies. In the past few days, hundreds have posted comments about this highly motivated individual.

But more significantly, his photographs leave the world a better place.  You know the man loved nature, and because of the way he reveals it you are inspired to do so as well.



—————


A Few Blogs Which Included Tom:

Arctic Grayling

Tom Ulrich & Photography


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 »

Donald Trump’s Wall

posted: January 28th, 2017 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: For the past few days Donald Trump has been discussing “The Wall,” and he’s finding it may not be as easy to separate the U.S. from Mexico with a huge, huge barrier as he had promised.  Yes, some places may need a means of excluding Mexicans from entering the U.S. and that was certainly true in Arizona’s Organ Pipe National Monument. Here, parts of the terrain are ideally suited to stealth, and monitoring revealed that at the height close to 1,000 illegals were stealing across the 30-mile long border on a NIGHTLY basis.  Many were drug runners, and some threatened visitors, and sometimes tragedies occurred.  In 2002 Ranger Kris Eggle was killed by a drug runner.

Dozens of “People trails” were being established and the trampling from thousands of footfalls quickly eroded the critical habitat required for the endangered desert antelope.


Dos Lomitas-6 Dos Lomitas-4 DosLomatis (1 of 7)


Here’s the way a five-mile section of road in Organ Pipe appears.  Some of the fencing is obviously
cheap but one section, perhaps a mile long, was expensive and is used in other sections of the park.
As best I can determine, cost per mile is $2-3M. 
When used in conjunction with other forms of detection, it has worked.


You can’t have this type of impact on a park designated as an International Heritage Park so here, in this specific part of the U.S., a wall was needed.  Americans paid for it and the cost as best as I can determine for the high metal barrier section was $2-$3M PER MILE.


BullPasture-3 OrganPipe1 Dos Lomitas-5 - Copy


It is now safe again to hike remote sections of Organ Pipe, thanks in part to fencing.
It’s also made it safer for law enforcement rangers.

But the border fence didn’t completely solve the problem and to accomplish the goal of eliminating drug runners and, yes, sometimes undocumented aliens simply looking for work, officials had to do lots more, and here are a few of the extra measures that were required: They increased the border patrol from 50 to 500, installed huge monitors and night cameras, and periodically they make helicopter patrols. The combination has worked, and the park, which closed subsequent to the murder of Ranger Eggle, reopened two years ago.  Now there are fences separating the border but some are more effective than others.  The fences shown here separate a five mile segment of the U.S. from Mexico.


43849

Building a wall worked in Organ Pipe and now the beauty of this incredible desert park
can be safely explored, here along the Ajo Mountain Loop Road.



Do we need a wall in other parts of the USA?  Do Americans need the kind of protection Organ Pipe required?

Those are questions I can’t answer, but if we do, I doubt seriously if DT will be able to live up to his campaign promise. What I can say and want to emphasize is that if we do need a wall, it’s not because I agree with “OUR PRESIDENT’S” hyperbole that [Mexicans are] “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists…”

But to give the devil his due he concluded by saying “…some are good people.”


—————–

 

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

Mountain Biking in Anza Borrego

 

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 »

Tragic Results After Biker Collides with Bear

posted: July 5th, 2016 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: On June 29 two men riding mountain bikes just south of West Glacier, Montana, rounded a bend and surprised what officials now believe was a grizzly bear.  To make matters worse, Brad Treat, actually collided with the bear, and the alarmed bruin knocked Treat from his bike and then attacked. According to one report, Treat was going so fast he couldn’t stop. Tragically, the bear killed the 38-year-old man who was employed as a law enforcement officer by the Flathead National Forest. Treat was a former Glacier Park ranger. The other man, escaped attack and scurried for help.


GNP7038 GNP7026


L to R:  Search for the bear that mauled Treat has not been successful, and officials have called off the search. 
Glacier has about 500 grizzly bears and though we probably hike by many, we generally don’t know they’re watching us.


Immediately after the mauling, authorities initiated a search for the bear, but, now, after a week, the search has ended. Again, cautionary bear statements abound and some are recalling that the event had been predicted, most notably by Dr. Stephen Herrero, a professor at the University of Alberta. Herrero, who is recognized as one of the world’s most renowned bear experts cautioned years ago that mountain bikes could be dangerous.

BIKES CAN BE DANGEROUS

“Mountain bikes,” said Dr. Herrero, “are potentially very dangerous. They approach quietly and fast, and bears don’t like surprises.” Herrero, who is also a mountain bike rider, emphasized that riders should carry bear spray and make noise.”

Bear6 41189G-Bear StupidPhotographers


L to R:  Invariably, the old cliche holds:  A fed bear is a dead bear.  If a grizzly bear exhibits signs of aggression, back away slowly. 
These photographers intentionally intercepted the chosen route of this grizzly, forcing it onto the trail to Iceberg Lake in Glacier.  The situation could have become dangerous.


That message strikes home and in the future I’ll do just that. When rounding a bend I’ll shout. As well, I’ll focus more on the trail rather than on the beauty which generally surrounds me. And I’ll slow down, realizing now that I might collide with a family as well as a bear. Yes, in the past I’ve been guilty.

FATAL MAULINGS DATE TO 1967

I’m not certain whether Treat’s death will be included in the tally of Glacier Park bear maulings, but to date the park says there have been 10 fatal maulings within its boundaries. The first of these occurred in 1967 when two different bears killed two people in different parts of the park in the course of a single night. Those attacks became the subject of a 1969 book by Jack Olsen titled “Night of the Grizzlies,” and later a documentary by the same name. Those attacks can be linked directly to garbage, as I emphasized in a story I later wrote for Smithsonian magazine.

In addition, I have written many other bear stories and am providing links to postings about bear behavior — and about some of the tragedies.

(Note: all these bear images were made with an 800mm lens. I don’t search for bears, but am prepared to photograph bears using a tripod-mounted camera setup.)


———————-

More  Bear Postings:

Night of the Grizzlies

Bears Now Ready to Hibernate

Is It a Black Bear or a Grizzly Bear?


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 »

NRA Aggression

posted: June 27th, 2016 | by:Bert

.22 calibre pistol which we recently purchased to serve as a form of psychologial comfort.

.22 calibre pistol which we recently purchased to serve as a form of psychologial comfort.

©Bert Gildart: Two weeks ago I traded in a very sophisticated semi-automatic pistol for the simple-to-operate revolver shown here.  Since making the purchase I’ve received two telephone calls — as revealed by my caller I.D. —  to be from the NRA.  Unfortunately, I was slow in climbing our stairs and was not able to answer before the contact was broken, but this may have been for the best.  Now, should they call again, I’ll not be caught off guard.  Read on if you want to learn how I might respond.

For years I was a member of the NRA but denounced membership back in 2003.  At the time, I was in Spokane, Washington, attending a convention of the Outdoor Writer’s Association of America, which is supported by many national organizations such as the NRA, the Sierra Club – and by virtually all the major producers of outdoor products. Unfortunately, a spokesman for the NRA had a major disagreement with the Sierra Club, which at the time was attempting to persuade members that habitat had to been considered as a major factor in setting hunting guidelines.  The NRA disagreed and in so many words, representative Kayne Robinson said at the organization’s sponsored luncheon that it was their way or the highway.  Shortly thereafter I dropped my membership.

That was 12 years ago, and perhaps the NRA has changed its mind on habitat management, but new issues have materialized to include the issues of assault weapons, gun registration and the No Fly/No Buy suggestion regulation.  So… if the NRA calls again, I do know what I’ll tell them.

I’ll tell them that I remain a gun enthusiasts, but that my three hunting rifles are bolt action guns and that each holds half-a-dozen bullets or so.  Each time I fire, I must yank the bolt back and then, to chamber a bullet, I must slide the bolt forward.  I can only do that about a six times before reloading, and each time I slide the bolt backward and forward I have to take my eye off the target.  Not true, however, of the AR-15 semiautomatic assault weapon, which can accept magazines holding up to 100 bullets.  But that disparity is not a problem for me, as my target is deer and elk, not people in a night club or children in a school.

As stated at the outset of this opinion piece I recently purchased the .22 magnum caliber pistol for the very rare occasion when Janie and I feel threatened.  More than anything it provides psychological security, and our first line of defense would be bear spray — and I have had to use it while riding my bike, confronting dogs, so know it works.


Guns-BearSpray-2 Bear-spray-works BearSpray5-199x300

 

L to R:  Bear spray as mounted on my bicycle; Bill Hutchison demonstrates use of bear spray, our first line of defense for unpleasant situations.


Purchasing the pistol took about 15 minutes, and if it had been necessary to wait a day or two for a background check to determine whether I was mentally competent to own a gun, or to insure I was not on a No-Fly/No Buy list (hopefully to be implemented), that would not have bothered me.  Certainly these “inconveniences” will save at least one life, and if it does then it’s worth it to me.  I don’t believe my 2nd amendment right are being compromised.  Several countries such as Britain and Australia have limited private ownership of assault weapons and time has shown that in some countries, some restrictions work.

And, so, that’s what I’ll tell the NRA should they call, and if they do, I hope I won’t slam the door shut on future deliberations – as did the NRA spokesman.  However, it will take a lot to get me to re-up membership status.


———————


Associated Blog:

Knife River … And Keep Guns Out of National Parks


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 »

Memorial Day — On a Personal Note

posted: May 29th, 2016 | by:Bert

Korean War Memorial

Korean War Memorial

©Bert Gildart: MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND and Arlington National Cemetery is much on my mind as we honor our war heroes. I think about Washington D.C. and  Arlington because it is where several of my relatives are now buried.

Such memories become more significant as I get a little older and history takes on a new meaning; hence three years ago I attempted to locate (again) the grave of a family member buried in Arlington. At the time I was on a business trip, intending to learn more about our nation’s Capital Parks, and Arlington was one of them.

NIGHT CREATES AURA OF ETERNAL VIGILANCE

The newest of the memorials is the World War II Memorial, which honors the 16 million who served in the armed forces of the U.S., and the 400,000-plus who died in that war. It is the only 20th Century event commemorated on the “central axis” of the National Mall, and President Clinton dedicated the memorial site on Veterans Day 1995.

Night is a particularly good time to visit the WW II Memorial, for night lights and refracting ponds create an aura of eternal vigilance. Take a tripod if you want night photos, but you’ll need more if you want to walk within range of the Capitol building.

Because heightened security since 9/11 looks askance at long pointed objects, you’ll need a special permit, but if you ask a park policeman he or she will tell you how and where to obtain one.

 

Arlington must be visited during the day and finding my grandfather’s grave amidst the 290,000 servicemen (7,000 new graves each year) could have been a daunting task had it not been for the easily accessible computerized records. To locate a relative, all that’s required is a stop at the desk immediately to your right as you enter the Visitor Center. Then, they’ll want a little information.

FINDING A RELATIVE AT ARLINGTON

They’ll want to know your relative’s legal name and his or her date of death. Such information also entitles you to a special pass with a “numbered” address that will allow you to drive to your relative’s grave.


13570 13547 13551


Many of our Capitol Parks are dedicated to the memory our military heroes.

Though my grandfather’s site was more than a mile away I chose to walk, passing as I did by the grave of John F. Kennedy with its massive memorial and its eternal flame. I passed, too, the grave of Audie Murphy, our most decorated WWII soldier, and a man who later became a movie icon of the ‘50s and ‘60s.

I stopped by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where the changing of the guard was in progress. The precision of their moves spoke of strength, coordination and infinite practice.

Two hours later, I arrived at my grandfather’s grave, who died in France shortly after Germany surrendered. He had survived the war only to die in 1919 from the pandemic flu, leaving behind two sons, age four and one. Though they were young, his death so impacted them that both chose military careers. In turn their lives affected me, and though I never followed my dad’s path, I remain in tune with much that is military.


Dad400

Dad approaching his 90th year wheeled himself to Trophy Point, West Point.  Both Janie’s parents and
my parents are buried at West Point.
A small portion of the library at the academy was dedicated to my father.

You and I may or may not agree with the policies of our administration, but that has little to do with the appreciation we should demonstrate for the sacrifices our brave soldiers made in the past and are making today. On a personal note, my father was at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed and he later fought at Guadalcanal. Little wonder, I suppose, Military Parks hold such fascination for me, and little wonder I suppose that I respect all Memorial Day has come to represent. My father and mother are buried at West Point, and so are Janie’s.

Today, if I were in D.C., I’d make another pilgrimage to Arlington Cemetery and lay flowers on my grandfather’s grave. But since I’m not, Janie and I will do as we do most Memorial Days: we’ll post a small flag and allow it to remind us of the 2,757,196 men and woman who have given their lives for America.


NOTE:  BEFORE CLOSING here are a few other links that pay homage to our veterans:  Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Memorial Day.


—————————-

 

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

Shenandoah’s Deer & Bears

 

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 »

Honorary Doctorate Awarded Resident of Remote Alaskan Village:

posted: May 10th, 2016 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: This past Sunday (May 3, 2016), Trimble Gilbert of Arctic Village, Alaska, was presented an honorary Doctor Degree in Law for helping to advance the people of his village and for his efforts in helping to preserve the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

As well Trimble has served in his village as an Episcopal minister and a traditional chief. Not so incidentally he is one of the very best fiddle players in the entire Arctic region. Janie and I both feel privileged to know this man, and were once honored by Reverend Gilbert when he led his congregation in prayer intended to ensure our safe travels during a month-long hike through the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.


Trimble-1 Trimble-2 TrimbleMary-1


L to R:  Trimble Gilbert has worn many hat during his life in Arctic Village, to include Episcopal minister and traditional chief; David Salmon presents
Trimble Gilbert with eagle feather and a Gwich’in Indian name to replace Anglo Saxon one; Trimble and Mary Gilbert in Arctic Village cabin.


Monday, April 9, the Fairbanks News Miner published an article which Gilbert had written, and I am excerpting portions of it here. Trimble is a most articulate man, and his views on education and on protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge are meaningful.

———–

WROTE DR. GILBERT IN the MAY 9 EDITION OF THE FAIRBANKS NEWSPAPER : As a boy growing up in Arctic Village, I learned by listening to my elders and taught myself to write by copying words from bags of sugar and flour. I never dreamed that one day I would receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from a university. But I never quit learning, and have spent my life encouraging young people to earn their degrees and make Alaska and the world a better place.

Education is the key to protecting Gwich’in culture, our way of life and the place where we live. For thousands of years, my people have called the Arctic home, subsisting on species such as fish from the Yukon River and caribou from what is now called the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Clean water and the wild landscape are essential to our survival.

For decades, I have fought to protect the Arctic refuge from oil and gas development because, to the Gwich’in Nation, wilderness is necessary for the survival of our people and our culture, and much of our food comes from the refuge. Preserving the refuge is a matter of human rights.


Trimble-7 Arcticflora Trimble-5


L to R:  Tiny segment of Porcupine caribou herd stampede across Kongakut River; 
the Arctic is not a BARREN wasteland as some politicians have proclaimed;
Johnathan Solomon, Trimble Gilbert share thoughts on refuge with Senator Max Baucus.


President Obama’s administration has recommended that Congress designate the coastal plain and other areas of the refuge as wilderness to ensure that the land will remain wild forever. We support this recommendation, because if drilling hurts the Porcupine caribou herd, the Gwich’in would likely disappear…

“Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit” is what we call the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge. This means “The sacred place where life begins.” The caribou come here every summer to birth their calves and nurse them until they are ready to migrate…

If drilling happened and affected the Porcupine herd — about 180,000 animals — its future would be threatened. And so would the Gwich’in people and our villages. If the caribou lose land, we will lose caribou. Without them, we cannot feed our families or teach our young people the traditional subsistence way of life. Our children will move to cities, and our community — and our culture — will cease to exist…

20237 CaribouCottonGrass Trimble-3


L to R:  Hiking through Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with friend Burns Ellison; caribou
stand amidst field of Arctic Cotton; winter view from small plane of Arctic Village
.


We are grateful to President Obama for recommending that 12.28 million acres of the Arctic refuge be declared wilderness and protected forever. This way we know all of the important land for the Porcupine caribou will be protected and the herd will not go the way of the great bison herds.


Trimble-4


Trimble Gilbert with sons Gregory and Bobby, all excellent musicians.


The 19.5 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge are a treasure for all Americans…

—————

Janie and I have spent a number of years in the Arctic and believe that everything Trimble wrote in the paper is completely accurate. We’ll go one step further and say that the Arctic Refuge may well be the last self-regulating ecosystem in the world. The Gwich’in are the northern-most tribe of Indians in North America, living as they do at the base of the Arctic Refuge, located almost 200 miles north of Fairbanks.


————————–

 

 

 

HERE ARE A FEW OTHER POSTS ABOUT THE GWICH’IN INDIANS

 

Gwich’in Page

Alaska Boating Adventure

 

Extreme Ice Fishing

 

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 »

Silver Anniversary, Starting from the World Trade Center

posted: May 4th, 2016 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  Twenty-five years ago – that’s May 4th, 1991 — Janie and I were married, and for the past few days we’re been recalling some of the highlights of our lives as a couple. At the time we were surrounded by family and friends and were married in New York by Methodist minister Tom Vancus, who had once hiked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail.

That afternoon we drove to New York City and spent the first night of marriage in the World Trade Center. We dined in a revolving restaurant that looked out over the city and then attended CATS, a Broadway musical. Tragically, we cannot repeat our stay at the World Trade Center.


13128 30062 31220

L to R:  Celebrating sun rise at Apostle Islands, Porcupine River, Dry Tortugas


We departed NY several days later, then drove to our permanent home in Montana, then on to Alaska. Back then I had a contract to teach in a summer school program at a remote Gwich’in Indian village known as Arctic Village. The superintendent, an old friend, was trying to bring in people with different backgrounds.

My expertise was photojournalism, and for three more summers, Janie and I worked in several different Gwich’in Indian villages, to include Fort Yukon, Beaver, Rampart, Venetie and Arctic Village. At the end of our first summer we created a multimedia slide presentation, later made into a video and used by the Alaska Department of Education to acquaint prospective teachers with life in remote villages.

Originally, we’d planned to stay but one summer, but we became so enamored with their subsistence culture of caribou and fish, we continued to return, even doing so one winter. As well, we took up their cause to preserve the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, “birth place of the Porcupine Caribou herd,” writing stories for many major publications. We continue to support their various causes and remain friends with a number of the Gwich’in.


91527 N-LightsCabin 13124


L to R:  Jasper National Park, norther lights in Venetie, AK 
streaming over our first home together; Janie kayaking sea caves in the Apostles.

Now, 25 years later, we’re still fulfilling assignments with various publications, most of which we cover from the comforts of our Airstream. The easiest way to summarize some of our experiences is simply to post pictures.



AS-2710

Toasting one of our anniversaries from the road.


Accordingly I’ve included a small sampling of images from various spots in North America. Included are images of northern lights streaking over our cabin in the Arctic; an image of a four-month trip along the Yukon and Porcupine rivers; toasting one another near the Mojave National Preserve; and using a  wheelbarrow to transport our camping gear to a site in the Dry Tortugas.  Finally, I’ve included images of the  Apostle Islands, and of an elk and our Airstream in Jasper, Alberta. You can see write-ups on some of the areas by following links to blogs which I’ve included below.

It’s been a great life for Janie and me, and we hope to keep exploring North America for years to come, celebrating anniversaries where ever we might be.


—————————

 

World Trade Center:

Dry Tortugas:

Kayaking Bay of Fundy


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 »

Passing of Country Icon Merle Haggard

posted: April 7th, 2016 | by:Bert

MerleHaggard

©Bert Gildart: Anyone interested in learning more about the legendary country performer Merle Haggard, who died yesterday, should read: The Running Kind.

The book was written by David Cantwell and published by the University of Texas Press.  I read it last year and have it with me on my Nook.

Cantwell takes about 20 of Haggard’s most famous songs and details chapter by chapter the life experiences that led to the creation of each of these songs.  Remember: “Mama Tried,” “Sing Me Back Home,” Silver Wings,” or “Okie from Muskogee”?

Want to know what led to the creation of each song?  Cantwell explains.

As a young man Haggard and his family were challenged by immense poverty, which created a difficult environment for a young Haggard. Most likely rebellion led to flirtation with crime and that subsequently led to several years of imprisonment at San Quinton.  To overcome these challenges Haggard had to have been driven – but he also had to be blessed with immense talent; which he was.  And it was widely recognized.  Not only was Haggard included in the Country Music Hall of Fame, but he was recognized by many presidents for his talents.

His demise at age 79 represents the end of a musical era.


Perhaps not surprising, I have virtually every song he ever wrote – and sang.  Obviously on some level, I believe I can empathize with the words and melody, but for Haggard to have been so popular, many must also believe that they can too.

If you’re a Merle Haggard fan I highly recommend The Running Kind.

 

————-

 

ABOUT THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

Music Is Barometer of A Person’s Soul

Grand Ole’ Opry

 

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 »

Joe Medicine Crow, Last Surviving War Chief, Passes

posted: April 4th, 2016 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Joe Medicine Crow, the last surviving war chief of the plains Indians tribe died April 3, 2016. He was 102. He grew up and lived most of his life at Lodge Grass, Montana.

As a child he listened to stories about Little Big Horn, told by a relative who served as a scout for Custer. He earned the title of war chief after stealing enemy horses and other exploits as a U.S. soldier during WWII. In 2009, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


Joe Medicine Crow

Joe Medicine Crow


I came to know Medicine Crow while working for Native Peoples Magazine on two different occasions. The first time he was participating in the renaming of a national park-managed-area. Initially, it had been named after the field general who lost the Battle of the Little Bighorn, essentially because of arrogance. That was about 20 years ago and the renaming ceremony changed the name from Custer Battlefield to Little Bighorn Battlefield. At the time Medicine Crow led several dances and later, he graciously agreed to an interview. Also attending the name change were Gerard Baker, who helped bring about the controversial name change, and Secretary of Interior Gail Norton.

Medicine Crow was a historian and author of the Crow Nation of Native Americans. His writings on Native American history and reservation culture are considered seminal works, but he is best known for his writings and lectures concerning the Battle of the Little Bighorn.


JoeMedicineCrow 30046 LBH3

L to R:  Joe Medicine Crow leads dance commemorating historic name change;
new Indian Memorial; Gail Norton and Little Bighorn Superintendent Gerard Baker.


Because of his work he received an honorary doctorate from Rocky Mountain College in 1999. He received an honorary doctorate at the University of Southern California in 2003 and an honorary doctorate at Bacone College in 2010, an educational institution where he had been an ambassador and commencement speaker for over 50 years.  My last meeting with Medicine Crow was at an annual event that celebrated the life of Chief Plenty Coups. The celebration was held at Plenty Coups State Park in Montana.

Joe Medicine Crow was a man much in demand and I always appreciated the fact that he set aside time to visit with me. He was truly a great man and will certainly join the pantheon of Montana Native Americans who have made a difference not only to his native culture but to the standards of life in American.


————————-


THIS TIME LAST YEAREarth Mother

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 »

Barking Dogs Not Compatible with Organ Pipe’s Sounds of Silence

posted: March 11th, 2016 | by:Bert

organ pipe cactus

Organ Pipe Cactus frame the Moon

©Bert Gildart: Despite the wonderful time Janie and I had in Organ Pipe, we departed following an ugly event that was accompanied by several F bombs being levied at me.

The event was precipitated by a confrontation I had with two sets of campers parked adjacent to us who had barking dogs. Barking was not confined to just a yip, rather it was sustained, and it occurred randomly throughout the day and into the evening. Finally, after almost two weeks of being awakened in the morning and having several dogs owned by our campground neighbors drowning out the desert’s “SOUNDS OF SILENCE” (see accompanying photo), I went outside and asked the neighbors to please get their dogs quiet. Moments later the campground host and hostess walked up and we discussed barking dogs. They’d heard the commotion and agreed with my thoughts about uncontrolled dogs, for that afternoon, two rangers confronted the people in the sites adjacent to us. I have no idea what transpired, but whatever they said seemed to help – for a while.

EVIL LADY

Two mornings later their dogs commenced barking – again awakening me. I was fed up and went outside and asked them to PLEASE get their dogs quiet. About that time, another campground hostess showed up and I detailed just how exasperated I was. Then I returned to my camper. Later, we noticed that the people with one set of dogs had moved to another site, far away. But the “evil” lady (her husband did not join her) in site 135 marched over and launched into me using every imaginable word she could muster up. She said her dog didn’t bark and that I was a so-and-so liar. I told her to leave and when she turned I told her to have a good day. She turned around and again started dropping her F bombs. Then she stomped off yelling that I was a F—— Nazi.

Because of the lady’s hostility I felt I should file a complaint, which I did on one of the park’s comment form. I suggest that when people enter the campground, Kiosk rangers should ask if they have pets. If so, they should be provided a hand out explaining that dogs must be under control and if not, owners will be fined – or asked to leave. They should be told that dogs must be on leashes at all times (not so for my neighbors ), and that non-stop dog barking will not be tolerated. They should be told that campers should be limited to two dogs, and not to FOUR as another group of campers recently had.

WONDERFUL KOA

I wrote more in my report, but I think this expresses my feelings for my blog readers. Right now we’re heading to Death Valley, and we’re over-nighting in a KOA, a campground. But, still, I have just got say that I have suddenly started to revere the KOA here in Needles, California. They say in their Rule and Regulations that all dogs must be on leashes and that barking dogs will not be tolerated. If your dogs continue to bark, says the KOA handout, owners will be “asked to leave” and money “will not be refunded.” I absolutely love this campground.

In summary, I should note that for a number of years Janie and I traveled with a Malmut, which we trained not to bark, so it can be done! I should also note that about 50% of campers at Organ Pipe were traveling with dogs, but they, too, had apparently trained their dogs, for most pets did not engage in that horrible nonstop yip, yip, yip.

OK, that’s now in the past. Today, we hope to make it to Death Valley and enjoy the “Super Bloom.”


== == == ==

 

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

Magnificence of Birds In Flight

 

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 | 5 Comments »

Ripe Mexican Marijuana Crop Now A Concern at Organ Pipe

posted: March 5th, 2016 | by:Bert


©Bert Gildart: Several days ago Janie and I attended a presentation in Organ Pipe provided by two U.S. Border Patrol agents.  It was an excellent talk, and we took away much information.   One thought, however, that sticks with us is that the marijuana crop is now ripe and drug dealers are now attempting to smuggle tons of it across the border that Organ Pipe shares with Mexico.

One of the agents said if we see people with huge backpacks most likely they’re smugglers and they may well be carrying guns.  “Leave the area immediately,” he urged, “and notify us.”  The agent went on to say smugglers don’t want to see visitors any more than we want to see them.  He said smugglers have scouts posted on hills with commanding views, and when they see Border Patrol agents they have signals that warn “the mules” to scurry back to Mexico.”  The two men also spoke about the skills members of their unit possess to track smugglers.



Dos Lomitas-5 BlackBottles SenitaLoop-6

Jane Gildart, who says that here she could jump across the border.  (The waist-high fence is for stopping cars.)
Dave Vedder with pair of black water bottles.  Black is used by most undocumented immigrants
because they don’t reflect sunlight; three hikers, which the landscape can easily swallow.

 

Securing the American border has a long history that can best be appreciated by hiking some of the park’s trails.  About a week ago friends from Tucson (Rich, Emma and Eleanor Luhr) joined us and we hiked to the Milton Mine.  The mine was named after Jefferson David Milton who was of the first people to patrol the area, doing so in 1887.  Davis rode horseback between Yuma and Tucson.

As we explored the area once patrolled by this now historic man, we found a few discarded water bottles and several worn out shoes.  We found carpet material, used by smugglers.  When placed over their boots fibers in the carpet obscure tracks.  One of the presenters noted, however, that some of their trackers have become so talented they can follow fibers through the brush.  Indeed, Janie and I were impressed by the described capabilities of men and women now attempting to protect the wonderful resources so unique to Organ Pipe.  For one month, now, Janie and I have been enjoying those resources.  Sadly, we may soon have to get on to other business.


HouseFinch CactusWren (1 of 1) GhostFlower


An infinitesimal representation of the plethora of life to be found in Organ Pipe, an International Biosphere Preserve. 
L to R: House finch helping to pollinate ocotillo, cactus wren, hibiscus.

 

While visiting this 330,688 acre preserve, we’ve ridden bikes and hiked trails.  We’ve enjoyed evening presentation and the clear night skies, and we have taken advantage of park shuttles, one of which took us to the Milton Mine trailhead.  Here, while hiking to the mine, sharp-eyed Emma (now 15) spotted a Cristata at the tip of an Organ Pipe.  Previously I thought the strange growth was confined to the saguaro.

As well, we’ve marveled at the various species of birds that have adapted to a life in thorns, most notably the cactus wren.


A-Mt-Bike2 EmaRichElanor AjoMtDrive-15


Organ Pipe provides magnificent biking opportunities; a day of hiking to both Milton and Baker Mine
where we observed artifacts discarded by illegal intruders;
Valentine Day celebrated with drive of the beautiful Ajo Mountain Drive.

Certainly the monument enjoys these natural resource features in part because over 90 percent of Organ Pipe has been designated wilderness.  Obviously that presents an immense management dilemma, especially now because the marijuana crop has matured necessitating an increase in surveillance.  Some of the patrol work is conducted on horse, but often, to insure visitor safety, they must respond urgently, and that means they must also use 4-wheelers.

“What do you prefer,” they ask pointedly, “thousands of illegals denuding the landscape, or us trying to ensure visitor safety and reduce environmental impact?”  The answer should be obvious for last year Organ Pipe was able to reopen the 60% of lands that had been closed.  But there is still work to be done.  Last year agents seized 100,000 pounds of pot, while in 2005, they seized but 17,000 pounds.  But hopefully these losses to smugglers will continue to benefit the successful program the Park Service has been implementing.


= == == ==

 

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

(Over the years I’ve written a number of magazine stories about OP and posted about a dozen blogs. 
Here are five examples.)

Organ Pipe1, Organ Pipe 2,
Star Light– Star Bright,

Natural History of Organ Pipe,

Airstream Camper Tips from Organ Pipe

OUR RECENT BOOKS

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 »

Veteran’s Day Commemoration — A Personal Note

posted: November 11th, 2015 | by:Bert

30 YEARS OF SERVICE: Today, I’m remembering American service men and that certainly includes my dad, whose military career was eventful. During his 30 years of service he witnessed the bombing of Pearl Harbor and then, years later, served in Korea as a general. Other stations included command of the Army’s first Redstone Missile Unit, responsible for helping place America’s first satellite into orbit.

His honors were many and included the Army Commendation Medal; the Bronze Star Medal with “V” for valor, the Legion of Merit. Finally, he received The Distinguished Service Medal, the highest award given during Peace Time. Wrote then-Secretary of the Army in a warm letter to Dad, “I do not believe it within our capability to give the full recognition due a man who has devoted his life to hard work, high responsibility and the performance of duty…” Today, a small section of the West Point library is dedicated to my dad.


Dad400

Note, the image included here depicts my dad at West Point, which seemed to have defined him. He was active until he was 90, at which time he needed a wheel chair following a bad fall. It was, however, only temporary.

 



Partly because of him, Janie and I make periodic contribution to the Wounded Warriors Project. All of these outstanding men deserve the accolades of a nation.


ABOUT This Time Last Year:

West Point’s Historic Cemetery — Where Our Parents Now Reside


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 »

Juneteenth – Celebrating Freedom From Slavery at Old Sturbridge Village

posted: June 23rd, 2015 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: We’ve been scurrying this past week, stopping first in New Jersey to visit family living along Shades of Death Road (Truly) then — a week later — on to Sturbridge, Massachusetts, to visit more family members.

Relatives aside, one of the highlights of our entire 9-month trip (we left Montana in October) has been to visit Old Sturbridge Village, something I’ve reported on several times before.  Justifiably, the village claims it is a living museum, and exists to portray life as it existed in New England between 1790s and 1830. At times the village portrays special historical events, and this past week it portrayed “Juneteenth.”

JUNETEENTH

The word Juneteenth dates back to 1865 and recalls the first known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.  Many African Americans must consider it their 4th of July, and Old Sturbridge Village highlighted that historical event by assembling superb story tellers.  We were amazed at their repertoire of expressions and by their ability to entrance diverse audiences.

Sadly, Juneteenth coincides with the horrors of this past week’s shooting spree in South Carolina, causing many to wonder why so much racial hatred still prevails.  It’s now 152 years after Lincoln signed his  Emancipation Proclamation, which is what Juneteenth is intended to celebrate.


TammyDenease-1 EmmaRae-1 Tammy-1

 

CAPTIONS:  Tammy Denease portrays a number of women who knew the tragedy created by slavery.  For more see Historical Firsts.  Center, Emma Rae portraying Harriet Beecher Stowe reading from her still-famous book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.


Juneteenth at OSV was highlighted with quality performers, and  Actress/narrator Tammy Denease Richardson was the first to introduce us to the plight of slavery as practiced in the early 1800s.  Born in Mississippi, Ms. Richardson spent countless hours with her 100-year old grandmother and great-grandmother, the latter of whom was a former slave who lived to be 125 years old.  Both were well-known storytellers who passed this treasured gift on to Ms. Richardson, their granddaughter.

During the week, she played the part of several slaves, such as Sarah Margru, who had been brought from Africa via Cuba to America on the slave ship Amistad.  In her presentation, she described the beatings at the hands of owners – as well as other types of “physical” abuse.  Throughout, she emphasized that Margru never forgot her African roots, despite the fact she was only nine when captured thousands of miles away.

In yet another performance Richardson depicted Elizabeth Keckly, an enslaved woman who bought her freedom and that of her son for $1,200, gaining prominence as a dressmaker and as a confidante to Mary Todd Lincoln.

WOULD HAVE DIED FOR JUST A MOMENT OF FREEDOM

In yet another performance, Ms. Richardson acted out a narration of  Elizabeth “Mum Bett” Freeman.  The story is true and relates Mum Bett’s challenge to win her freedom after suffering 30 years in bondage.  You can hear the words echoing through the ages as sadness fills the face of Ms. Freeman. But the words that follow do not falter and with strength of purpose she speaks the same words uttered so long ago by Mum Bett:

“Anytime, anytime while I was a slave, if one minute’s freedom had been offered to me, and I had been told I must die at the end of that minute, I would have taken it — just to stand one minute on God’s airth a free woman — I would.”

It was a fitting prelude to other actors/story tellers who presentations were equally as poignant.

Andre Keitt was another of the week’s story tellers, and our program referred to him as one of the Keys to the Keepers.  His narration ran the gamut, at times  filled with lighthearted anecdotes that he said helped slaves forget the day-to-day reality of servitude.  Keitt said that many of the thoughts and words came from his grandmother Martha Greatheart.  He said that when he was young he would listen to her words over and over, trying to absorb her wisdom.


AndreKeitt-9 AndreKeitt-10 AndreKeitt-8


L to R:  Andre Keitt and a partial Repertoire of expressions used to express humor, pathos, reflection and determination.


“I never got tired of hearing them,” said Keitt, adding that from that moment he heard the stories, he knew he wanted to be a storyteller.  “I knew,” he said, “that I had to write her stories down before they were lost forever.”

Mr. Keitt said the majority of those stories have a lineage that can be traced back to family members who were emancipated slaves. He said that many of the stories evolved to escaped the hardships of slavery, and he used as an example Bre’er Fox and Bre’er Rabbit.  Anyone, he said,  could be called Bre’er and he picked Janie from the audience as an example.  “Bre’re Jane,” said Keitt.  “I bet you are a good story teller.”

Janie and I attended other programs and I hope to share with you performances characterizing Harriet Tubman and Harriet Beecher Stowe, which were also featured this past week at Old Sturbridge Village.


——-


THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

Raccoon At Our Feeder


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 »

Organ Pipe National Monument Has Reopened

posted: February 20th, 2015 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  Out of concern for visitor safety, much of Organ Pipe National Monument has been closed for about 12 years. (See link to my posting about the murder of Ranger Kris Eggle.) But in February of 2014 the park service brought in Superintendent Brent Range and instructed him to apply his background in law enforcement and try to reopen closed areas.


SenitaBasin (3 of 10) SenitaBasin (7 of 10) SenitaBasin (4 of 10)


L to R:  Pleats of the Senita are more boxy and project fewer spines; Janie hiking through Senita Basin; Senita “tree.”

 

INCREASED VISITOR SAFETY

For starters Superintendent Range increased the ranger staff from about seven permanent rangers to about 20, increased the border patrol from about 100 to about 300, and installed better surveillance equipment. Though we suspect there is more to come, Range opened all closed park areas in September 2014.

For increased visitor enjoyment, the “new” park also began offering van shuttles to wonderful hiking areas, such as the Senita Basin. Our van was full and following an hour drive along a rugged backcountry road to a trailhead, Janie and I struck out on a five mile hike.

The hike enabled us to familiarize ourselves with a most interesting member of the cactus family, the senita. Though the organ pipe is sensitive to cold, senita is even more so, and this monument represents the specie’s most northern extension from Mexico. To cope with the cold the tops of senita are covered with hair-like structures. Structurally, the pleats are more “boxy” in appearance and are more widely separated.


Quitobaquito (1 of 10) Quitobaquito (8 of 10) Quitobaquito (9 of 10)


L to RTo prevent drug runners from plowing across international border in their vehicles, park has erected steel fences.  Road and trail to Quitobaquito are now open and no longer require an ARMED ESCORT, which we joined several years ago.  You’ll still see black water bottles , but they (hopefully) are “artifacts” of a hard core drug era rather than reflective of the times.   But note, as the park service certainly points out, illegal crossings still occur.


We plan to remain in Organ Pipe for at least another week and will be posting more images about this forgotten park. Once it had the reputation of being the nation’s most dangerous park, but we believe that designation is now changing.

Here are a few images of our hike, the senita and “artifacts” from along the road.   You’ll be seeing more posts from Organ Pipe.


—————-


Organ Pipe Recollections From Many Visits Over the YearsAirstream Camper Tips from Organ Pipe, and Organ Pipe’s World Class Cactus Forest


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 »

West Point’s Historic Cemetery — where Our Parents Rest

posted: October 20th, 2014 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Certainly one of the most significant stops Janie and I made during our three-week trip to the East Coast was the one we made this past Friday. Both Janie’s parents and my parents are buried at West Point, and we wanted to pay our respects. As well, we included in our walking tour an inspection of some of the graveyard’s old monuments for they preserve so much of our nation’s history.

We wanted to see where Janie lived between 1959 and 1961 when her father served as an Academy doctor and where I lived when my father served between 1946 and 1949 as a tact officer. My dad was also graduated from the Academy.



WestPoint-7

View of West Point from Stoney Lonesome Mountain

 

The graveyard overlooks the Hudson River and first served as a burial ground for soldiers from the Revolutionary War. Officially designated as the West Point cemetery in 1817, it has provided a beautiful resting ground for military men and women — some distinguished, some not so distinguished. Names include figures such as George Custer (not distinguished), General Norman Schwarzkopf, General Winfield Scott, General William Westmoreland, and Master Sergeant “Marty” Maher. Maher was portrayed as a central character in the film “The Long Gray Line,” and appropriately so, for he was the academy’s swimming coach and was considered in the movie as a voice of reason. He taught military dependents how to swim and in 1948 taught me how to do the breast stroke.


WestPoint-1 WestPoint-12 WestPoint-10


Janie places flowers on parent’s grave; marker for my parents (Mom 1914 t0 1999); site of famous author and, not so incidentally, her historic home is now a museum about West Point.

 

The cemetery includes Medal of Honor winners, and a few men and women whose history complemented West Point history, such as Anna B. Warner, who wrote the children’s song, “Jesus Loves Me.” She became a well-known novelist of the times, but germane is the fact that her former family home is now a museum located on Academy grounds.

The Academy, of course, is not for everyone, and seven years ago I posted a blog about the Military Academy and tried to explain its suitability. Five Gildarts (three generations) attended West Point and it was just assumed I would try and enroll.


WestPoint-4 WestPoint-2 WestPoint-5


First Medal of Honor given during Civil War; side panel of Custer Obelisk who was reinterred after his Little Bighorn debacle; grave stone of William Westmoreland.

 

I posted images of the Custer obelisk and of the football which serves as the headstone for the famous coach Earl Blake. In short, our visit brought back many memories and we were lucky to have had an absolutely gorgeous day to visit our parents’ graves and refresh our memories of some of our nation’s history.


—————


THIS TIME THREE YEARS AGO:

Dramatizing Desert Heat With Photographs


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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“We Shall Never Forget…”

posted: September 11th, 2014 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: The sign in back of Jim Marshall and Sheldon Wickersham, two Creston, Montana, firefighters, summarizes the feeling of virtually all Americans.  “We Shall Never Forget Our Brothers.”

The display created by men and women of this volunteer firefighting department has been a ritual here in this tiny settlement since the year 2002.  Every year now for the past 13 years members of the Creston Fire Department stand throughout the day symbolizing a time when virtually all Americans suffered and came together.


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Creston Firefighters L to R:  Jim Marshall, Sheldon Wichersham


All of us know exactly where we were that day in 2001 and can tell you what we were doing. In our case, friends from Texas had just climbed Chief Mountain in Glacier National Park and they were staying with us.  Janie was watching TV and when she saw the jet planes fly into the World Trade Center she ran downstairs where our friends were sleeping and told them they’d better get upstairs to see the TV.  One of our friends, David Bristol, looked at her and said, “Janie, we’re at war.”

Janie and I also remember that in 1991, we honey mooned at the World Trade Center.

I realize that other towns throughout America are also recalling this day of infamy, but we are immensely proud and pleased that the tiny settlement in which we live is making such a grand presentation throughout the day.

They’re right, “We Shall Never Forget…”


————–

 

THIS TIME SEPTEMBER 11, 2008:

Creston Firefighter

 

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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