Making a toast to the last of the glaciers
by Jessica Pickens
Camping gear, camera equipment and dry gin.
Local photographer Julian Charles rode 3,300 miles on a Triumph Tiger motorcycle with little more than that strapped to the bike.
Charles traveled from Elkin to the Glacier National Park in Montana to have a high ball and bring awareness about how changing weather climates are affecting glaciers though a photographic exhibition.
“The idea of the ‘Ice and Slice’ came up as a name to hang on the trip to make it a bit more fun,” Charles said. “The whole subject of climate change can be heavy, so Ice and Slice was me taking a tumbler, a lemon and a mini dry gin and tonic and transporting it across America to find some ice to put in my drink. Once I got the ice I made a toast to the last of the great glaciers.”
When Glacier National Park opened in 1850, there were 150 glaciers. Today there are 22, Charles said.
“It helps bring the message home of how climate is changing really quickly,” he said. “There have been predictions that all the glaciers in the park will be gone in another 30 years.”
Charles traveled from Elkin to Montana on motorbike for five days, riding about 3,300 miles. He then parked his bike and hiked through the back country for three days; taking pictures and exploring the glaciers. His original plan was to photograph glaciers in Greenland but went to Glacier National Park as a plan B.
“This is a problem right at our door step,” he said. “The landscapes in the Alpine are changing very quickly. Glacier National Park does a good job of showing that.”
Along with exploring the glaciers, Charles was able see the United States, as well as experience climate change first hand, while traveling for five days on motorbike.
“It was so incredibly hot the first three days and four states were experiencing record high temperatures. It was 112 in South Dakota,” he said. “I was hit with huge hail, torrential rain and lightning strikes too close to for comfort. I also came across several wild fires. That journey, with high temperatures and increased severe weather activity, was a good example of how quickly things are changing if you just look out your window.”
Before leaving, Charles had a rough idea of the route he wanted to take, going day by day and using a map. He went through the Smoky Mountains, the Black Mountains and the Badlands. With limited space, he brought his camera, mailed his hiking gear to the park before leaving and had his camping gear to set up camp each night.
“You have to be pretty frugal with the equipment you take,” he said. “You have to consider the extreme weather you may face on a bike, so you have to travel pretty light.”
Though the weather was uncomfortable, Charles chose to ride a motorcycle to interact more with his surroundings. If he had more time, he would have cycled instead, he said.
“I’ve always enjoyed riding on a motorbike. It beats flying or driving a car,” Charles said. “You get to smell the mountain air and be more involved in your environment. I also got 50 miles to the gallon with gas on my Tiger.”
Charles expects to be back in Elkin on August 17, and will be showing his photos from the exhibition when he returns.
Reach Jessica Pickens at 835-1513 ext. 18 or email@example.com
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