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Mebee Pass Lookout: John Scurlock’s Labor of Love

  Lost things can be hard to find in the wilderness of the North Cascades, so when aerial photographer John Scurlock spied the rough angles of a man-made structure among a zone of alpine krummholz, that last green gasp of stunted subalpine fir at tree line, he must have thought himself lucky. Remembering the comment of a climbing friend who …

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The Olympic Mountain Goats: End of an Era

After decades of debate, draft plans, and environmental assessments, the National Park Service (NPS) has decided to eliminate mountain goats from the Olympic National Park and the surrounding National Forest areas. They plan to employ their Record of Decision, Alternative D: a combination of relocation and lethal removal. This means relocating at least 50% of the Olympic area mountain goats …

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An Enduring Promise: North Cascades National Park at 50

Like most tales of land use policy, the creation of the North Cascades National Park (NCNP) was a long, bitter battle between opposing social forces. Government agencies, extraction industry companies, and the conservationist movement had their own ideas about how we should administer this vast and sublime landscape. A clash was sure to follow. The creation (or perhaps evolution) of …

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Happy Feet: The New Technology of Footwear

It’s an old problem: everyone’s feet are different. Even on the same person, the right and left feet tend to be asymmetrical. Since time immemorial folks who use their feet a lot (runners, hikers, etc) have had to make do with footware that sort of fits. A revolutionary new technology promises to change this situation by making available custom-fitted and …

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Woodstock Farm: A New Chapter in an Old Story

Even if you’re paying attention you might miss it. Eyes glued to the bends and curves of Chuckanut Drive just south of Bellingham, the sign for Woodstock Farm is an unimposing brown flash against a green backdrop. But take the turn down toward the water, and what appears is a gentleman’s estate that looks transported from the early 1900’s, perched …

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Reimagining the Wilderness

It’s happened to all of us. You head up to Heliotrope Ridge or Lake Ann for a refreshing hike. At the trailhead, you hang your Northwest Forest Pass from your rearview mirror to show you paid for parking. Like a good citizen, you sign in at the trailhead, just in case. You write down how many are in your party …

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Cascade Crossing: Keeping the Faith in the North Cascades

I turn around to deliver the disappointing news. My wife stands a few short yards behind me as we pause to catch our breath. “Okay, I know for sure where we are, the bad news is we’ve got another section of steep talus slope before we reach camp.” Having already delivered this assessment of our route at least twice, she …

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SRBEIC: Flying High After 20 Years

The Skagit River is one of the Pacific Northwest’s most beautiful watercourses, flowing down from the North Cascades and making its sinuous way to the Salish Sea. In winter, bald eagles gather along its banks in amazing numbers, feeding on salmon. This epic cycle of salmon and eagle is one of nature’s great spectacles. For the Skagit River Bald Eagle …

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People of the Parks: The Legend and Legacy of Bill Lester

Every summer, Bill Lester would tell the same story. Former Park Ranger Alan Cline remembers that during every summer orientation for seasonal rangers, Lester – his mentor – would tell the story about a family that visited Olympic National Park while he was a ranger there. As the story went, one morning while tying his shoes, Lester greeted a couple …

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A Passion for Fluttering Wings: Six Great Butterfly Adventures in Cascadia

Butterflies might not be the first things that come to mind for the Northwesterner looking for fresh fields of outdoor experience. But just listen to this fevered description of high adventure from the May, 1936 National Geographic, in an article entitled “Butterflies – Try and Get Them,” by Lawrence Ilsley Hewes:  “If you are a real hunter, try for Papilio …

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