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Tag Archives: north cascades

Far Above the Beaten Path: In Praise of the Alpine Traverse

My heavy boot balances on a small ledge just below the crest of the knife-edge ridge. Before fully weighting each step, I check my footing by gently tapping the rock. A misplaced step or broken hold would send me tumbling down the cliff. With a 70-pound pack throwing off my balance, I strain to move without tipping sideways. Finally the …

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Gear Spotlight: Mountaineering 101

Do you enjoy hiking uphill for a really long time? Have you thought about mountaineering, but are unsure where to start? Just outside of Bellingham, in the North Cascades, we have access to some of the best mountaineering in the lower 48. Stark and dramatic, rock and ice environs are a perfect place to enjoy being alive. Here are some …

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Luna Peak…er…Creek!

In the wood there are paths, mostly overgrown, that come to an abrupt stop where the wood is untrodden. – Martin Heidegger, Off the Beaten Track (1950) Having been away from the Picket Range for more than 40 years, I was eager to try my hand at the much vaunted bushwhacks for which it is famous. The managers of the …

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Sarah Finger: A Deeply Etched Love for Local Landscapes

After a quick burn on Galbraith or hike up in the North Cascades, Sarah Finger is likely to be the one across the bar from you slinging your après trail beer. But she also has a strong connection to that magnificent landscape you can’t stop staring at on the can of IPA you’re slugging down. She’s the artist who created …

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The Problem With Drones

Imagine, if you will, a pleasant afternoon of tranquil rambling in the green meadows of the North Cascades. But then you begin to be aware of a high-pitched buzz above you. Not a mosquito. A drone, hovering just overhead. Approximately the size of a toaster, with four rotors spinning rapidly and a high-definition camera slung beneath it. The spell is …

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Graduation Day

I am inescapably and resoundingly middle-aged. I have been a college student for three years now, liquidating savings and borrowing heavily against presumed future earnings. Recently—remarkably—I graduated: thirty years almost to the day since I finished high school. Early that morning I drove to the mountains for a celebratory ski in the Mt. Baker backcountry, my excuse being that I …

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Tapto Lakes: A Long Awaited Journey to the Heart of the North Cascades

Everyone has a place they dream of, somewhere that holds a special spot in their heart. At some point in their lives, usually at a young age, they see a picture or read a story about a place that for various reasons captures their imagination. They carry it with them over the years and hope someday for the chance to …

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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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The Best Hikes in North Cascades National Park

Ten Trails That You’ll Never Forget… Stunning views, towering summits, prolific wildlife, primeval forests, glistening glaciers, resplendent wildflowers, and one of the largest wilderness areas in the Lower 48; celebrate the North Cascades National Park’s 50th anniversary with a hike. Here are ten of my absolute favorites—from easy day hikes to challenging backpacking trips in the North Cascades National Park …

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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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