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 'Uncategorized' Category

Storm Clouds

posted: November 8th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Every winter Anza Borrego gets battered by an occasional storm that carries with it rain and snow and sometimes high winds.  Conditions associated with winds can create interesting photo conditions just as they did this morning right after sunrise.

At the time I took this photo winds were kicking up sand — and so the atmosphere darkened the sun — meaning that those of us camped at the Springs of Borrego were treated to some rather dramatic views.  Other campers also appreciated the sunrise and several waved as I clicked off enough images to assure myself that I had an image not blurred by camera motion, which could have resulted as the harsh winds shoved me from side to side.



Storm

Sun muted by sands kicked up by raw winds



And speaking of other campers – and on another subject altogether – I’ve been absolutely amazed to discover that although there are literally hundreds of other campers parked here, that only one person had posted a sticker on his or her vehicle that even hinted of politics.  Seems as though this group is more interested in getting along with their neighbors – and sharing a sunrise – than are those we might find back home.

And, oh, that one sticker – what did it say?  It simple said: VOTE.

Maybe politicians from both parties should forget Congressional storm clouds and embark on a long camping trip.

 

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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS SIX YEARS AGO:

*Antietam


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

 

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Return to Hermit’s Rest

posted: October 5th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  Yesterday Janie and I bicycled to what has become my most favorite part of Grand Canyon: Hermit’s Rest.  Because Janie had not biked much recently we decided to try out the shuttle system, which we found surprisingly easy to use and the bus drivers more than helpful.


Tarantula (31 of 1)

Janie at "entrance" to Hermit's Rest




Because it was our first time loading bikes onto the bus, the driver showed us which levers to pull – and push – and within a matter of minutes we had our two bikes loaded onto the rack, which is outside and located on the very front of the bus.  About ten minutes later we unloaded our bikes near Hopi Point.  In that way we eliminated the most uphill portion of the Hermit’s Road Drive, which is open only to shuttle buses and to bikes.

HARVESTING PINYON PINE NUTS

Essentially, we were riding in a Pinyon/Juniper forest to the South all flanked to the north by the depths of the Grand Canyon.  As we rode we could see that the pinyon pine nuts were ripe, and we had learned from our week now of exploring this park that many Native families were gathering nuts, perfectly legal for all ethnic groups.  Several days early Janie had visited with an elderly Native lady who said this was the very best crop they’ve had in several years. “Next year,” she said, “there probably won’t be many nuts.”


Tarantula) PinyonPineNuts (1 of 2)


L to R: (Click to enjoy as larger images)  Tarantula along Hermit’s Rest, pinyon pine showing seeds inside cone and ready to burst free.

 

Nuts are best gathered on the ground as when in the cones on the trees they are exceedingly sticky.  Natives gather them in huge quantities, then bake the nuts and when properly prepared “taste better than peanut butter.”  We noticed the ground, beneath stands of pinyon pine trees, was thick with cones and that the cones extruded seeds.  We continued our ride, reaching Hermit’s Rest about an hour later.

Today, Hermit’s Rest is a small stone building that serves as a place for visitors to rest and stroll along the canyon rim.  It’s also the point at which the road runs out and where buses and bikers must turn around.

ANOTHER TARANTULA

Several days ago while biking the area just west of The Rest, I found a tarantula, and in almost the same place Janie and I spotted yet another.  This one seemed larger, and by now I had learned a bit more about handling this huge arachnid – and hopefully (for your viewing pleasure) the making of better tarantula images.  (See previous post for comparison.)


HermitsRest (33 of 1)

Colorado River, which has been at work for over a million years.

 


We completed our ride – almost 18 miles – just as the sun neared the horizon.  It lite the canyon in dramatic ways – even after it had disappeared.  Below us we could see the famous Colorado River that had been at work for well over a million years.  It was a humbling experience and we rode on, returning to our Airstream near dark.  We were tired but invigorated.

 

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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS TWO YEARS AGO:

*Shenandoah and the Monarch Butterfly

 

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Unique Forces Created Bryce Hoodoos

posted: September 26th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: According to the several geology books I have been reading and to the naturalists with whom I’ve spoken, Bryce Canyon National Park contains the world’s most spectacular formations of “Hoodoos.”  Obviously, then, the conditions that exist here must be unique, and as we’ve poked around, essentially hiking some of the trails, we’re starting to realize that all this hyperbola really is true.


Peekaboo (20 of 14)

Descending trail linking with Peekaboo

 


Yesterday, Janie and I hiked from a trailhead at Bryce Overlook along a spur that connected a loop trail known as the Peekaboo Trail.  In all of our years of exploring the nation’s national parks, we both agreed that this trail exposed some of the nation’s most unusual formations: towering spires, pinnacles, huge knife-like extensions of rocks; castles, arches, tunnels and more. And not just isolated but spreading over an area of miles.  The three-mile long Peekaboo trail provides little more than an introduction to the vastness of all these “Hoodoos,” for they extend over acres and acres.

How did they come to exist? And how all the unusual shapes and vast sizes?


Peekaboo (21 of 14) Peekaboo (25 of 14) Peekaboo (22 of 14)


L TO R: Descending from Bryce Point, spires along Hoodoo Trail, Janie about to enter tunnel descending to Bryce Canyon and continuation of 5-mile hike.
(CLICK TO ENJOY AS AN ENLARGED IMAGE)


According to interpreters, there are several reasons, and all are unique – found no where else in the world.

PRECISE FORCES

Millions of years ago, two forces began to act on what was then bedrock.  One of these forces exerting pressure upward but in a northwesterly fashion while the other force exerted its pressures in a northeasterly fashion.  These forces acted independent of one another, but the end result is that in concert they created vertical fracture, and if acted upon would assume elongated configurations. In other words, all of these lines of weakness were adequate for the next chapter in the saga of Hoodoo formation.

LOFTY ELEVATION

Bryce is situated at elevations that range between 7,000 and 9,500 feet, rendering it highly susceptible to continuous freezing and thawing. The area also receives a fair amount of precipitation, and all these conditions render the area ripe from erosion.  Add to that the differential sedimentation created when vast inland seas and huge lakes covered the area and now there is some understanding explaining why some rocks might erode more quickly than others.  These later conditions account for the numerous pinnacles that are more massive on top than on the bottom.


Peekaboo (24 of 14)

Hoodoo detail as only really appreciated by hiking trails in Bryce, such as Peekaboo.

 


The total story is a bit more complex and actually begins with thoughts about continental drift, a theory that takes what is now Utah to what is now the equator where colorful minerals were added long ago.  Today these incredible colors comprise the park’s Hoodoos, making them even more inspiring – and photogenic.


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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS LAST YEAR:

*Elk and CM Russell Wildlife Refuge

 

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

 

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Bryce Canyon — Casting A Spell

posted: September 24th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  We are camped now in a place where the deer and antelope roam – in a land full of such bizarre rocks that Native Americans named them “The Hoodoos.” They said that coyote, the trickster, created them from the “Legend People.” Hoodoos, then, according a park brochure, “are pillars of rock, usually of fantastic shape that cast a spell.”

Many will recognize the rocks in the pictures as being those found in Bryce Canyon National Park, and we intend to spend a little time learning (relearning) about the geology of this magnificent place, hike some of the trails, particularly one or two that take us to ancient bristle cone pines, said to be some of the most ancient of all vegetative species.


Bryce (12 of 22)

Descending trail from Sunset Point



So far we ventured down a trail taking us to the Queen’s Garden, and I am reacquainting myself with one of the nation’s premier parks. It’s one I reported on about 25 years ago in several chapters in a Sierra Club Guide to National Parks of the Southwest.

Once I knew this park well, and a flood of memories are returning, but with that length of time since the last visit, much of what I’m seeing is like seeing it for the first time.  Janie believes Bryce contains some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, and is anxious to see them more intimately, for they are already casting a spell.



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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

*Havre Underground

 

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

 

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Mitt Romney and The Economics of Global Warming

posted: September 4th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  At the Republican Convention this past week, Mitt Romney closed his acceptance speech by saying he intended to correct our sluggish economy by reversing a promise Obama made four years ago.  “Obama promised to lower the rising of the oceans,” said Mr. Romney, who then concluded by saying that his promise was to put money in the pockets of the struggling middle class.  Elaborating, he said he would do so by “developing our oil, gas and coal resources.”


DanFagreMap 10349 kuparuk


L TO R:  Dr. Dan Fagre pointing out the almost complete recession of Grinnell Glacier in GNP; “Caribou is our Life,” say these three young ladies from Arctic Village; ravages of oil development as revealed at Prudhoe Bay, a place where caribou “have benefited,” or at least so say the developers. 

 

Helping correct our sluggish economy in a responsible way is certainly laudable, but I guess I need help understanding economics.  Virtually all scientists now say aspects of global warming are man caused, and that continued warming could have devastating results.

CURRENT DEVASTATION

We’re already starting to suffer from some of these effects.  Right now forest fires are raging in the West, the Southeast is drought stricken with corn crops suffering, pine beetle infestation is killing off our forests, several foreign countries suffered from severe floods, and people are dying from the hottest temperatures on record.

Aesthetically, the appearance of America is changing. Massive ice fields in places such as Mount Rainier and Glacier National Park have been substantially reduced, and though it is true some have melted before, never in recorded history have they done so at such an accelerated rate.  Glaciers, of course, store water, and many of these storage units are almost gone.

DEVELOPMENT IS ALTERING LIFE STYLES

Oil development will also alter life styles and perhaps none more drastically then the lives of the Gwich’in, who live adjacent to the Arctic Refuge.  And unlike many nay sayers, Janie and I have actually hiked the refuge – from top to bottom.  And look at Prudhoe Bay, a spider web of pipes, which has suffered repeatedly from oil spills.  In the past I’ve reported on all these concerns in many of our leading conservation magazines, such as National Wildlife and Christian Science Monitor.


10232 Rainier2 MountRainier-DB


L to R:  Unlike most detractors who have never seen the Arctic Refuge, Janie and I have hiked the entire length;  camp site during climb of Mount Rainier where ice fields have been drastically reduced; Dr. David Bristol, my  Rainier climbing partner and life-long friend.

 

Romney’s developmental mind set was discussed this past Sunday on Meet the Press, and David Gregory’s Round Table discussion included both Democrats and Republicans (Newt Gingrich).  Thomas Friedman, NY Times columnist and a Pulitzer Prize winning author, said that if  oil, gas and coal resources were tapped that it would “burn up the planet” in ways never anticipated by even Al Gore.

None of the other participants disagreed, and now I’m wondering just how we’re going to resolve the economic woes created by rising temperatures.  In the long run it seems the Romney plan will actually exacerbate our economic woes.


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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS LAST YEAR:

*Montana’s Bear Paw Battlefiield

 

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

 

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The Challenge of Dark Skies

posted: August 23rd, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: The Challenge: Because light pollution is so pervasive, areas of the country endowed with a Dark Sky Status should be celebrated.  Obtaining appealing images, however, requires long nights in the field and some technical knowledge.

First find a suitable subject, one that benefits from its Night Sky Status and from the story it might tell, in this case the gallant effort of Chief Joseph’s to maintain freedom for his Nez Pierce tribe.  (Note: You’ll need written permission before you starting any nocturnal peregrinations at the Big Hole Battlefield!)


DeathValley JoshuaTree Bighole


Ideally you should pack in several cameras and several tripods.  Windless nights are a must.  Then, you need to understand the night sky.  Because the axis of the earth points to the North Star if you aim your camera at that star for long periods of time, you will be rewarded with a background of concentric lines.  (Note to any with lingering doubts: this proves the Earth is round.)

IDEAL IMAGE:

I wanted to suggest that the spirit of Chief Joseph still wanders his ancient tribal land, and felt the combination of teepee poles at the Big Hole back-dropped by star patterns would create that effect.  Exposures on my several cameras (from about 1 a.m. to about 3 a.m.) were many but shutter speed averaged about 45 minutes. My aperture was 5.6 and ISO generally set for 400.  Additionally, I “painted” the teepee poles with flash and set my strobe so it fired at about f8, or one stop under my overall setting.  The image will appear in my book Montana Icons, scheduled to be released in several weeks by Globe Pequot. 

AND, the image will also appear in the upcoming issue of Airstream Life,  used to illustrate my story on Dark Skies.

Similar techniques were also used for the images of one of Joshua Tree National Park and the one of Death Valley.  Two strobes, however, were used to light the wagon and it required an ISO of about 2000 to capture the stars as pin points.  Post processing with Lightroom helped reduce “noise.”

Final Thought: Help reduce light pollution and preserve areas  blessed with a Dark Sky Status by using your night images to celebrate and call attention to these vanishing “islands”.



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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS LAST YEAR:

*Kootenai Falls

 

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

 

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Goats of Glacier’s Hidden Lake

posted: July 22nd, 2012 | by:Bert

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


GlacierGoats (12 of 1)

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

 

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

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

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


GlacierGoats-7 GlacierGoats-6 GlacierGoats-1


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


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

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


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


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


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


GlacierGoats (14 of 1)

Goat approaching Hidden Lake Overlook, GNP

 


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


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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS ONE YEAR AGO:

Montana Sleazy Saloon Tour

 

GILDART BOOKS FOR SALE: 

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



4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy




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Glacier Icons

posted: July 12th, 2012 | by:Bert

© Glacier Icons: In an effort to promote my new Glacier book, now in bookstores, I been providing newspapers with a “news release.”  The release has promoted several interviews, which will hopefully translate into sales.  Because I have absolutely no shame, I’m including it here with the thought that anyone planning a trip to Glacier will benefit from a purchase, which can also be made from us, as noted below.


BW-Falls

Bird Woman Falls

 


HERE’S THE RELEASE: For over 50 years Bert Gildart has been active as an outdoor journalist logging in time with newspapers and magazines.  As well Bert has published 17 books (several with his wife Janie) and this year Globe Pequot (Falcon Press is an imprint) is releasing three in that tally.  (The synchronicity of publications results from the Gildarts’ staggered workload.)

One of the books concerns Shenandoah National Park and was coauthored with his wife, and there will be more about that one later. The other two concern Glacier, out now, and Montana, to be released in September.

Glacier Icons consists of 50 essays and 50 large images complemented with smaller images embedded in the text.  To some extent the work is a distillation of hundreds of magazines stories free-lanced over the years to various periodicals such as Field & Stream, Smithsonian, Airstream Life,  and Montana Magazine.  Materials for essays were also derived from his many years of newspaper work and cover everything from the park’s disappearing glaciers and its management of grizzly bears to the beauty of a ptarmigan hunkered down in the snow.

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


Glacier Icons contains over 100 images, some of which have appeared in major magazine and book publications. L to R: Ptarmigan, hoary marmot, grizzly along slopes of Many Glacier just prior to hibernation, bull elk bugling. Other images are equally as dramatic.


Gildart’s interest in outdoor journalism initially resulted from summer work in Glacier National Park.  In the 1960s Bert was a floundering college student (on the Dean’s List for both social and academic probation) with absolutely no goals.  Following a whim, he boarded a Greyhound bus in Washington D.C. and headed west for a summer job in Glacier.  Subsequently he enrolled at Montana State College and, there, he buckled down, again (as he tells his children) making the Dean’s List.

The years mounted and what started as a single summer in Glacier snowballed to 13, subsequently as a ranger with much (and it’s no exaggeration to say “nationally acclaimed”) involvement with grizzly bears.  The northwestern Montana park continues to work its magic and Gildart believes Glacier Icons is infused with some of the grandeur that helped to alter a floundering way of life. The book is often anecdotal and contains the information visitors need to understand this northwestern Montana park.

You can order the book from Amazon or you can order it directly from the Gildarts.  Bert will knock a dollar off the list price of $16.95, but he must add the cost of book-rate mailing and the mailer, which are $2.25.  The grand total then is $18.20. Please send check to: 1676 Riverside Road, Bigfork, MT  59911


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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS ONE YEAR AGO:

*Virginia City’s Brewer Follies — It May Not Be For Everyone


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A Most Pleasant Day With Rattlesnakes

posted: May 18th, 2012 | by:Bert

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

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


Snake-30

Western Prairie Rattlesnake

 

OUT EARLY THIS YEAR

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

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

Snake-45 Snake-46 DavidShea-46


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


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

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

PIT VIPERS

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

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


Snake-12 Snake-1 Snake-31



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

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

GIVE BIRTH TO LIVING YOUNG

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

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

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


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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS THREE YEARS AGO:

*Organ Pipe Restrospective

 

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21 Years Ago Today We Honeymooned at the World Trade Center

posted: May 4th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Twenty-one years ago today (OTHER THAN A CHANGE OF DATE, THIS IS A REPEAT OF LAST YEAR’S POST ), Janie and I were married at my sister’s in Poughkeepsie, New York. Somehow Forrest, my brother-in-law, managed to obtain reservations for us at the World Trade Center where we stayed the night of May 4th, 1991. Janie and I both enjoy Broadway hits, so that night we took in CATS.  As well, we dined in the restaurant once located at the top of one of the Twin Towers.

Obviously we’re saddened that we can no longer return to the World Trade Center. But our sadness is obscured by the immense tragedy of lives lost subsequent to the bombing on 9/11 and the way in which the lives of so many others were forever altered.

We’re reminded of the World Trade Center for obvious reasons, and last year on a blog posting that was similar to this one I wrote: Now, if we could only bring Osama Bin Laden to justice, alive — or dead!

Because we use these blogs as logs of our travels, I want to note that on Monday, May 2nd, 2011, we were on our way to Dulles Airport and that Washington DC was alive with the news of the death of Osama Bin Laden. About eight hours later we were landing at the airport in Kalispell, Montana.

And now I want to say that I am proud to have a friend who is a member (retired) of the Navy SEALS and a family member (also retired) who once served in the Army as a Ranger.


Airstream

Since leaving the World Trade Center 20 years ago, our travels have been many, as links below suggest.



SHIFTING TO UPBEAT NOTE

On a less newsworthy — but equally as memorable note for us — since departing New York and returning to Montana, our lives have been made incredibly rich with many travels, and for those interested in a sampling, simply click on links provided below.

A few highlights might include experiences in the Arctic (boating Adventure) and the travels throughout Canada (Kayaking Bay of Fundy) and the U.S. (Dry Tortugas) in our Airstream.



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TWO YEARS AT THIS TIME

*Word Trade Center (ACTUALLY A HIGHLIGHT OF OUR TRAVELS OVER THE PAST 20 YEARS, ONE THAT TELLS OF EXPERIENCES FROM ALASKA TO FLORIDA)


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Nation’s Loneliest Highway

posted: April 25th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  Highways from Winnemucca, Nevada, north to Bend, Oregon, pass through the nation’s loneliest lands. Highway 50 through Nevada used to hold that distinction, and  Janie and I have covered that story for several magazines — and, OK –  we did find it to be lonely.  But we now contend  that once you turn north onto Nevada’s Highway 95, see a sign or two that says next gas 100 miles, that you are now entering the nation’s loneliest country.


Airstream20-12

Highways 95 & 78 -- through Nevada and Oregon. Are these now the Nation's loneliest highways?

 


At Orovada, Nevada, population perhaps 20, we did find a post office, and mailed a package.  After that the road passes a sign that says Paiute and Shoshone Tribes  and then Highway 95 enters Oregon.  Perhaps every 15 minutes we saw a single car, then, we begin negotiating high mountain passes:  Blue Mountain Pass, 5293; Riddle Mountain, 6352 elevation; and, Sagehen Summit, 4,699. And for a long period of time we did not see a single vehicle or any sign of human life.

Somewhere along the drive we passed the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, where we saw various species of birds, but still little evidence of people.  Finally, as we approached Burns, Oregon, we saw a few cows, and then, finally, several small ranch houses.

We concluded that in winter this must be an intensely hostile environment, and perhaps that is the reason it was so lonely.



Airstream20-10 Airstream20-11

 

L to R:  Lake Powell and our Airstream at a grey- and black-water dump.  Could this be the most beautiful dump site in the NPS?  Don, Nancy, Janie and me, departing Lake Powell.  For us, a most delightful series of winter travel are winding down.


Whatever, after almost 2-1/2 days of driving from Lake Powell we began seeing mountains comprising portions of the Cascades and the incredible Three Peaks Wilderness Area, which backdrops Bend, Oregon, host town this year for the Northwest Outdoor Writer’s Association of America.

We’ll be here for almost a week and expect we’ll learn much from the various seminars.  As well, I’ll be attending business meetings and will discover whether I enjoy the partial limelight as a member of the organization’s Board of Directors.  Usually, I shy away from such positions and suspect the organization must have been desperate.


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THREE YEARS AGO:

*Honeymoon at World Trade Center

 

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Ascending From Mother Earth

posted: April 23rd, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: In the last couple of posts I have covered the beauty of slot canyon, specifically, those on the Navajo Indian Reservation, located at Lake Powell, near Page, Arizona.

But what is a “Slot Canyon?”

Essentially, they are narrow canyons sculpted  by the forces of erosion.  Here, these forces create art, and the medium is mostly Navajo Sandstone, generally colored yellow, orange and red, or a combination of the three.


HDRLowerAntelope-10

Janie ascending from "Mother Earth," which is more traditionally referred to as Lower Antelope Canyon.



Often forces act on these walls over the millennia and in the case of Lower Antelope. Length of the canyons may be short or long, but in this image of Janie ascending, it is so extensive that it appears she is literally ascending from Mother Earth, and been doing so over an extended period of time. No wonder so many legends of origin are related to a grand exodus from the world below.

Though beautiful to explore, ventures must be chosen with care. In spring the area is subject to violent thunder storms, and about 10 years ago eleven hikers from France, Sweden,  England  and the U.S.  were drowned, caught below in flash-flood waters that rushed between the steep vertical walls. Sadly, none in the group escaped.

At the moment we’re traveling to Bend, Oregon, but my mind is still on the beauty of our adventures in and around Page, so I will be posting a few more images as we travel.


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THIS TIME FOUR YEARS AGO:

*Compassionate Water Tanks

 

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Departing Lost Dutchman, A Campground of Diversity

posted: April 6th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Today, we will take down our solar panels, pull up the huge outdoor mat (checking to make sure there are no scorpions underneath), crank up our stabilizing jacks, and unite the stinger on the Dodge with the Hensley Hitch on our Airstream and depart this beautiful campground.


Airstream-4

Airstream at Lost Dutchman, back dropped by Flatiron Peak, just a little left of center.

 


We’ve been here 12 days and our next destination is Dead Horse Campground near the town of Cottonwood.  Seems, however, that we always regret leaving an area, and that is certainly true of Lost Dutchman nestled here at the base of the Arizona’s Superstition Mountains.  During our stay here our activities have been diverse, to include two nights now at Filly’s Bar, where they have a great country and western band.

But that’s been a diversion from our other activities which essentially have been exploring all the natural wonders this area has to offer. Back dropping the photo of our Airstream you can see Flatiron Mountain, which I struggled up.  It’s located about a third of the way in from the left.


HieroglyphsTrail-8 HieroglyphsTrail-4 HieroglyphsTrail-7


L to R:  Beavertail cactus; Zebratail lizard, and Fishhook cactus, all seen along Hieroglyphics Trail.


As well, Janie and I hiked the Hieroglyphics Trail, and were astounded at all the short hike had to offer.  Cacti were in bloom and for me were climaxed by opportunities to photography the Fishhook and the Beavertail cacti in full bloom.  The end of the trail lived up to its promise with an amazing display of petroglyphs.  Joining us and scurrying around our feet was the  Zebratail Lizard shown just above.

Days here have been hot but the six solar panels we use for keeping us charged have insured that we can run our two Max-air fans, and they’ve kept a steady current flowing through our trailer that has provided comfort, despite afternoon temperatures near 90.


Quail HieroglyphsTrail-1 CurvedBillThrasher2


L to R: Birds surrounding our campground have been numerous, and include Gambel’s Quail and the Curved-billed Thrasher.  Center image shows a petroglyph panel from along Hieroglyphic Trail, also in the Superstition Mountains.

 

Mornings and evening, however, have been comfortable and we’ve invested our time studying all the birds attracted to the feed which we have scattered.  Interesting species include the Cactus wren, Curved-bill Thrasher, Gambel’s Quail, male and female Cardinals, and many others.

And so we leave Lost Dutchman with regrets, though we are nevertheless anticipating seeing the fascinating Native American  ruins that surround the Dead Horse Campground.



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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS FROM THREE YEARS AGO:

*Why An Armed Escort in Organ Pipe

 

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The Challenge of Climbing Flatiron Mountain

posted: April 4th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  This past Sunday Don, Nancy (our Airstream travel companions) and I hiked and climbed to the top of Flatiron Mountain, high atop the Superstition Mountains.  Though the first part of the trip was easy, the last part was almost as difficult as climbing Old Rag in Shenandoah National Park, which I did several years ago.


Flat Iron-7

Note trail which courses from campground below and then through center of image.

 


The trip begins from Lost Dutchman Campground where hikers access the Siphon Draw Trail, which begins climbing almost immediately.  The trail, however, is well maintained and we easily ascended to an area commonly referred to as The Waterfalls.  The Siphon Draw Trail ends here but a route continues on, and though easy to follow is not easy to climb.

All along the way hikers must climb around boulders and in several places, it helped if one were acquainted with the concept of three-point holds before moving further upward.  The route continues in this manner for about a mile but eventually breaks out into an opening.  Views are spectacular and rocks formations incredible.  Spires jut up and views of the sprawling town of Apache Junction become more of an abstraction rather than a distraction.


Flat Iron-15 Flat Iron-2 Flat Iron-1


L to R:  Slick rock over which water falls subsequent to rain; ascending route to Flatiron, seen in background; descending Flatiron.


As we wandered around the top, which is like a plateau, we found the black spot which represents the disastrous plane crash from this past November.  According to the report, a father flying his own personal plane picked up his children for Thanksgiving and apparently misjudged the height of Superstition Mountain, which is about 5,000 feet elevation. The plane reportedly hit the mountain at about 4,500 feet, and we could easily see the scorch marks on the spires. Some debris remained at the base.

But this is not a report on tragedies, just simply an observation, and the hike was dramatized – and dominated by – the beauty which surrounded us.  Indian legends report that the mountains hold the spirits of their deceased, and settlers, learning about the stories, began to call the mountains the Superstitions.


Flat Iron-8 Flat Iron-6 Flat Iron-10



L to R:  View of Flatiron just past point where “route” breaks out above boulder fields; view from Flatiron; igneous spires forming part of Flatiron’s intrigue.

 

Climbing and then descending Flatiron required the use of upper body muscles which I had not used for hiking or climbing in some time and, now, several days later, I’m still feeling the effects.  But that’s OK, as the majority seem to turn around when the reach The Falls, and that’s too bad as the panoramas from the top are truly astounding.



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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS TWO YEARS AGO:

*Padre Island is a Birder’s Paradise


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Moon Rise and the Beauty of Night Skies

posted: December 11th, 2011 | by:Bert

A-Borrego-3©Bert Gildart: Last night as I was returning from my chore of loading up our four, six gallon water jugs to replenish part of the 40 gallons of water we seem to use each week, the moon began to rise.

Before I had gone far palm trees began to border the moon, reminding us that the desert can indeed provide stunning vistas, particularly in the evening and then even more dramatically, at night.

Out here in wide open spaces, one of our pleasures is, in fact, the night skies, and Janie and I contend that the deserts offer some of the best in viewing opportunities.

Our contention begs this question:

How many places are left in the United States where night skies are clear enough to study – much less – see the various constellations?  Or even the moon?  Anza Borrego now prides itself as being on a national  register of areas still processing “Dark Skies.”

As time goes by there are fewer and fewer areas in the U.S. that qualify.  A few other places include Death Valley, Joshua Tree, and various places in Montana such as the Big Hole Battlefield (teepees). There are, of course, others, but these are some of our favorites.

Night photography can celebrate these places, as shown in photos included.  One of course is the moon rise (above), the other is also a moon rise image taken two years ago on New Year’s Eve.  This image is particularly special as it shows us toasting to the New Years but also to the Blue Moon behind us.


DeathValley BlueMoon2 ChiefJoseph


L to R:  Death Valley, toasting the New Year and the rare Blue Moon, star trails at Big Hole Battlefield.


Night Skies are precious and it is a shame that they are dwindling throughout our country.


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THIS TIME TWO YEARS AGO:

*Transforming Photography Into Art

 

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C M Russell Wildlife Refuge Provides Elk With Magnificent Stage

posted: September 30th, 2011 | by:Bert

Elk-CMR-29©Bert Gildart: I am a few days behind in the dates ascribed to my posts, essentially because we have based ourselves in areas that have no connections, specifically Zortman, Montana.  The settlement is located in the Little Rockies and for this posting it must be noted that we are but a 40 minute drive from one of the nation’s greatest wildlife spectacles  -  the fall rut of elk, which here includes literally hundreds of these magnificent creatures.

The stage is the Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge, specifically the Slippery Ann Wildlife Viewing area, which is immediately adjacent to where Adam, Sue, Janie and I took out from our seven-day float on the Missouri River one month ago.

It is here that Janie and I watched two nights ago as an estimated 300 elk materialized from stands of cottonwood trees, and then edged closer and closer until it seemed as though we had front seats at what could be  the photo opportunity of a lifetime.


PERFORMANCE WILL BLOW YOUR MIND

The performance began about 5:30 p.m. but before you could see the elk, you could hear them and their famous bugling. Bull elk create the music and do so by tilting back their heads and emitting a sound that begins on a low note then progresses up the scale.  Finally, it ends with a guttural “Ugh, ugh.”   Hearing them is one thing, but when you hear not just one bull creating the sound but dozens, it blows your mind.

The purpose of the bugling – followed by aggressive gestures in which they use their antlers to blow up the dirt, “murder” small trees, or actually engage other bulls in battle – is intended to help each bull establish a territory.


Elk-CMR-30 Elk-CMR-33 Elk-CMR-32


L to R:  Bull elk establish a harem and warn other males to keep out by bugling, fighting and tearing up the ground; CMR attracts thousands annually, often to watch elk; six-point or “Royal” elk.

 

Here, in a space each bull must mentally define, he guards his developing harem, and woe be to any interloper, particularly to “the welterweights,” or to one whose spread of antlers is inferior – that enters this space. Presumably the genetically superior bull emerges victorious and it is he that passes on his genes.


CMR IS MAGNIFICENT STAGE

We watched the display for about three hours and saw bulls whose antlers were represented by all the various descriptive nomenclature.  Biologists have created a system of classification. Bulls with six tines (most typically) are categorized as a Royal while those with seven or eight are categorized as an Imperial and Monarch, respectively. We saw them all, and most importantly from my perspective, I was able to photograph them all.  To obtain frame filling images I used lens ranging from 400 to 800mm.


Elk-CMR-34

Rounding up harem and warning other bulls to keep out.

 

Dramas such as this should be set on a stage of magnificence, and the CMR qualifies.  Encompassing about 1,100,000 acres, the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge extends 125 miles east/west.  Lewis and Clark saw it first and described the area in glowing terms. The refuge was set aside in 1936 by President Roosevelt and, today, some call it the crown jewel of the National Wildlife Refuge system.

They’ll get no arguments from us.


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THIS TIME FIVE YEARS AGO:

Nova Scotia’s Fort Louisbourg

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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Quality Entertainers Such as Bill Rossiter Perform Throughout Summer at Bannack

posted: June 29th, 2011 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  Bannack, Montana, provides more than just quality camping and insights into the state’s first territorial capitol.  Periodically throughout the summer, the park provides programs that are entertaining and educational.

This past Saturday night Bill Rossiter provided a program entitled Lincoln and Liberty: Songs of the Civil War.  Bill is an excellent entertainer and is a man I have known for approximately 30 years, and it seemed too good to be true that Bill’s performance should coincide with our stay.


Candles-2 BillRossiter-5


Back dropped by an exceedingly well preserved historic town decorated with period accoutrements, Bill Rossiter performs songs from the times.

Bill is from Kalispell and served as an English instructor at Flathead Valley Community College. Prior to his career as a teacher he traveled the country as a musician and actually continued working as a musician while teaching.

Now retired from college his entertainment is provided through the Montana Council for the Humanities – and for well over an hour he played songs from the Civil War era, many of them written by veterans of the war.  Currently his work for the humanities keeps him busy and this past year travels took him throughout most of the Northwest where he played over 50 gigs.

Bannack will be offering many other programs throughout the summer and if they are half as good as Rossiter’s program then they should not be missed.  Bannack’s well preserved ghost town (see previous post) and its wonderfully decorated cabins add yet further to the atmosphere.


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THIS TIME THREE YEARS AGO:

*Departing Knife River — Reluctantly

 

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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Old Rag Weather

posted: September 13th, 2010 | by:Bert


©Bert Gildart: See the fog a rollin’ down the Rag; hit’s a goin-a rain.

See the fog a rollin’ up the Rag, hit’s a-goin-a shine.


OldRag-2

Fog rollin' down Old Rag and surroundings

Adam! Whar are Ye? And Adam! Whar be that charmin’ lady of ur-n? Don’t Ye be forgettin’ her.

Right now we be in Sheanandoah National Park whar we have done planted ourselves. And rite now the fog be a rollin’ up the Rag.  Adam! Sue! Best be for geetin’ urn-selves har quick, ‘cause no one nose how long the fog will be a rollin’ up.

Wall, ‘nuff oldtime weather forecastin’, but once that’s the way folks ‘round these parts predicted the weather. And it was pretty reliable, too.

Janie and I know ‘bout that as we gathered lots of information about 12 years ago as we were completing a major hiking guide for the park. Now we’re updating both our major hiking guide and our Best Easy Day Hiking Guide to Shenandoah. We’ll be adding color to the book, and because we purchased a Nikon GPS we’ll also be including coordinates – at least in some places.

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Jane Gildart atop Old Rag 12 years ago.

 


We’re pleased to say the book, published by Falcon Press, has done right well for us. We’re looking forward to climbing Old Rag with Adam and Sue, something Janie and I have done several times in the past. We jest a hopin’ that the fog keeps right on a liftin’…


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THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

*Dawson City

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Three Baby Skunks Venture Into the Big World

posted: June 21st, 2010 | by:Bert

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Stomping Feet

©Bert Gildart:

Note, this is a blog I posted three years ago, and wanted to link to it from a new skunk  blog,  which I’ll now be posting tomorrow. Somehow this (the one you are now reading) posting got gobbled up in cyberspace so I had to go back to the original document. So I’m posting this one and, tomorrow, yet another with new and exciting skunk experiences (enjoyed yesterday) as I just know everyone will be equally as  excited about skunks as I am.  And so, from a June 2007 posting, I offer the following:

The young of all creatures are generally adorable, and that is certainly true of three baby skunks I saw this evening while riding my bike near home, about 30 miles south of Glacier National Park. Off in the bushes near a small creek known as Rose Creek, three tiny striped skunks emerged from the bushes.

Their first reaction was one of curiosity, and though I was nervous as they moved my way, I too was curious. Closer and closer they moved until one was almost standing on my feet. Suddenly it sensed something might not be quite right, so it backed off, puffed itself up and stomped its feet, a normal response when afraid. Believing this might be a good photo opportunity, I quickly peddled back home, got Janie, got camera equipment, and together we returned in our old work truck—not the good one that pulls our Airstream, and that we certainly would not want sprayed.

Because I am so fascinated with wildlife, years ago I convinced the Glacier Natural History Association they needed a mammal book, and they concurred. Here are a few paragraphs from it.

Of the four species of skunks in North America, only the striped skunk is seen locally. As skunks are nocturnal, they are not commonly seen in Glacier or Waterton. They can, however, make their presence known, for when they are disturbed or provoked, they discharge a strong smelling fluid from scent glands located beneath their tails. Occasionally local populations increase significantly, and they have to be live-trapped from buildings and then relocated. Over 40 were removed from one of Waterton’s campgrounds, and in 1974 more than 50 were removed from Apgar Campground in Glacier Park.

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Paying a friendly visit.

Despite their defensive mechanism, skunks are sometimes preyed upon by coyotes or bobcats, especially during hard times. Owls—in particular, the great-horned owl—seem to be immune to these offensive odors and often prey upon skunks.Normally skunks sleep in dens during the day and do most of their hunting for insects, rodents, frogs, and snakes at night. They are not true hibernators, but during a cold spell may take long naps…

Janie and I spent an hour photographing the three baby skunks, and again they approached us, this time almost stepping on Janie’s feet. Rather than babies, however, they reminded us of teenagers, testing their way into adulthood with bluff and bluster. Again, they stomped their feet, but they never raised their tail in a way that concerned us.

Eventually, they crawled back into a log, and there they remained, for we didn’t see them again. Not everyone appreciates skunks—so we hope they remain well out of sight. We left, wishing them a good life—and a long one.


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This Time Three Years Ago:

*Top Ten National Parks  For RVers

 

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Despite Snow, Spring Travels Offer Unexpected Pleasures

posted: April 8th, 2010 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Two morning ago Janie and were camped in a KOA in Brigham City, Utah, and woke to a type of near silence that we generally associate with the falling of soft snow. As we lay in bed deciding whether to look out the window, every now and then we’d hear a soft blop, meaning  that a layer of white stuff was probably sliding down the side of our aluminum trailer.

Curiosity aroused, we peered outside confirming our suspicions. During the night about eight inches of snow had fallen and it completely covered our trailer, our campground – the surrounding mountains — and presumably the roads separating us from Montana.


AirstreamSnow-1

Two mornings ago snow covered our Airstream in Brigham City.

 

Two hours later, we called Chuck and Gail, two friends in Dillon, Montana, who informed us that the snow in their part of southwestern Montana was melting fast . That was good news, and now, off in the distance we could see a normal flow of traffic, and to the north it did appear as though the skies were clearing. Our biggest worry was the highly temperamental weather condition of roads on Monida Pass, but we decided to chance it, knowing that, if needed, campgrounds along the way were many.

MONIDA PASS ALWAYS A CONCERN

But now, we had a real incentive to move on, for Chuck and Gail had offered us the use of their driveway to park, and if we could make it we’d have a chance to catch up with the activities of friends we’d gotten to know from our mutual affiliations with two professional writing and photography associations. Chuck (also a professional fishing guide on several well known rivers) and I had both been asked to serve on the board of the Northwest Outdoor Writers Association and this would give us a bit of a chance to think about what we’d gotten ourselves into. “What have we gone and done,” we laughed on the phone.

GROUSE ON LEK

As well, Chuck informed me that sage grouse were performing on a historic lek, and he said that if the weather cooperated we could erect a photo blind and see what transpired. Because I’m writing this after the fact, I know what transpired and can assure you (promise you, in fact!) that Chuck and I were able to photograph a rarely seen phenomena, the results of which I’ll probably be posting tomorrow. But first, we have to get ourselves home.

Back then to Brigham, Utah and to the falling of snow… In short, cars on the highway had whipped the roads free and the temperature was climbing fast. Not only did we have an uneventful drive out of Utah, but also over Monida Pass, (Mon = Montana; Ida=Idaho) where I took time to stop and photograph an old barn, something I do ever time we drive over this historic pass.


OldBarn-1

Well known old barn on Monida Pass.

 

And so we powered on, arriving about 5 at the home of Chuck and Gail, and bless them, they had dinner waiting and had even broken out a bottle of wine.

We visited until almost 11 when Chuck, smiled and said that we best be hitting the hay. “You and I, Bert, got to leave here at 5:30 to get the blind up, and we want to be somewhat alert.

“Not too many places left where you can see sage grouse on their breeding grounds, and this is one spectacle you don’t want to miss.”


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THIS TIME TWO YEARS AGO:

*Jerome, Arizona

 

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