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The Hermit of Gothic Colorado: A Gifted Naturalist and Environmentalist

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A contribution from a hermit living in the Rocky Mountains gives science a wealth of information.

billy baar, The Giant of Gothic, Co

billy baar, The Giant of Gothic, Co

billy baar, Naturalist

billy baar, Naturalist

billy baar, The Giant of the Rockies

No, I didn't spell his name wrong. billy insists his name be written in small letters as he considers himself a small man. But, quite the opposite. He has been a Giant for 40 years, recording snow melts, temperatures, animal sightings, and avalanches for years. Alone in the wilderness beginning in 1972 after he received his degree in environmental science from Rutgers. He had spent a summer there but returned to Rutgers and worked the summer to save money to return to Gothic, Co.

billy was somewhat a loner and instinctively knew he preferred the solitude of the mountains. And so he returned to the ghost town of Gothic living first in a tent in the dead of winter. Lucky for him, an owner of an abandoned mining shack allowed him to use the shack. For the next eight years, billy lived in the shack with no electricity or running water. It was then billy decided to use his knowledge and begin to record everything he could in journals. And for the next forty years, he would record important critical climate information devising his own inventions to accomplish this. Using a butcher's scale to record the snow's density and a snowboard to measure the snowfall's depth. The old shack burned down and billy proceeded to build his own cabin. This time he included a greenhouse and a movie room to house his 2000 DVD movies.

Old Miners Shack

Old Miners Shack

The Cabin billy built

The Cabin billy built

billy's Solitary Life

billy eludes to his solitude by adopting a routine as a way of life. His routine begins when he wakes about 3:30 AM listening to his battery-powdered radio until 5 AM, having breakfast before going out for his measurements. He cleans the solar panels and proceeds to records his measurements. Twice a month, he skis to Crested Butte for his fruits and vegetables he can't grow in his greenhouse. His dinners are usually pasta and a salad, no meat at all. He does stock up with lots of apples, making his own applesauce and apple juice.

billy loves to watch old movies, even silent ones, and never violent movies. He has also developed a keen interest in cricket and travels the U.S. to watch games of cricket. billy realizes he can't live in the wilderness forever and has a small home in nearby Gunnison, Colorado. He used to return to Trenton, N.J. to visit his father until he died in 1988.

Snowboard for Measurements

Snowboard for Measurements

The Journals of billy baar

The Journals of billy baar

The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratories

The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratories (RMBL) opened in 1928 as a renowned scientific lab, and over the years, 9000 scientists and researchers have conducted their studies there. The lab is located in Crested Butte, Co. Mailing address is P.O. Box 519, Crested Butte, Co., 81224, 970-349-7231. www.rmbl.org. Scientists are encouraged to apply to rent the cabins for housing each summer. Also offered are youth camps, tours, and volunteer positions.

billy has also worked for the RMBL over the years in various positions and has given his remarkable knowledge to them. His entries have been used in the National Academy of Science Journal. It appears billy had contributed knowledge of the environment and climate change even before it was common knowledge. The scientific community owes billy deep gratitude for his work. He had not envisioned that his life's work which he enjoyed so much would be studied by the scientific world.

billy's love for cricket led him to form the Gothic Cricket Club at the RMBL site. And the visiting scientists and researchers play the game with him.


billy Enjoying Game of Cricket

billy Enjoying Game of Cricket

Comments

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on October 23, 2020:

Linda, I agree he is a unique individual and never wanting any acclaim for himself. Thanks for reading.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on October 23, 2020:

I've never heard of billy baar before. What an interesting person! Thank you for sharing the information about him.

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on October 23, 2020:

Thank you Liz for your visit and comments. I appreciate it.

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on October 23, 2020:

Thanks so much for your visit.

Rosina S Khan on October 23, 2020:

billy baar thought himself to be a small man but actually, he really was a giant given the vast amount of information he contributed to Science. Thanks, Fran for sharing. I also commented twice on your previous article but looks like you never got them.

Liz Westwood from UK on October 23, 2020:

This is a fascinating article about a unique man. What an amazing life style.