Wisdom from Norton Pearl


The Belly River ranger station, with Chief Mountain in the upper left.  It is the only park facility which is both staffed full time (in summer) and not accessible by motor vehicle.

Norton Pearl was one of the original backcountry rangers in Glacier National Park, though back then (the park was established in 1910) there weren’t many non-backcountry rangers.  While exponentially more people visit the frontcountry of the park these days, a century ago the more remote regions were more populous and more frequently traveled, especially in winter.  One of the main tasks of Pearl and his colleagues was to patrol, often, in all months of the year.  Poaching in the park was a major concern, and a consistent ranger presence would presumably discourage this (more on that tomorrow).

In the winter of 1913 Pearl made two circumnavigations of Glacier while on the clock, details of which can be found in his book.  I photographed the following extract, which is for obvious reasons worth studying in detail.


Today the NPS caters to different concerns, winter patrols in the backcountry are all but non-existent, and liability would prevent on-duty rangers from using such a light and fast philosophy.

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6 Responses to Wisdom from Norton Pearl

  1. Clayton M says:

    Does this mean you’re bringing an axe to the Scapegoat this weekend? Sportsman has some really nice, handmade Swedish ones.

  2. Spelt says:

    Just goes to show that our ideas are not as original as we think they are.

  3. samh says:

    Reads like a page out of a Horace Kephart book.

  4. Pingback: The feather-hammer of civilization | Bedrock & Paradox

  5. Eric says:

    I liked that a lot. Do you make a fire immediately upon stopping?

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