John D'Onofrio

The Turning Point: Autumn in the Enchantments

When autumn weaves it’s magical tapestry of yellow, crimson and orange, certain places become holy sites. Shrines to the whimsical palette of Mother Nature. The hardwood forests of New England are, of course, famous. The aspen-covered mountains of Colorado. The brilliant magenta tundra slopes of the arctic. Closer to home, larch forests adorn the eastern slopes of the Cascades, offering …

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The Most Beautiful Beach in the World

The Olympic Coast is a sublime strip of wilderness beach that stretches for 60 miles, from the mouth of the Hoh River in the south to the legendary Shi-Shi Beach in the north. It is widely acknowledged to offer some of the best ocean-front hiking on Planet Earth, including three glorious point-to-point traverses that are, each in their own way, …

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Zion in Winter

Let’s face it: In summer, Zion National Park is a zoo. Truth be told, it’s jam-packed in late spring and autumn too. But in winter and early spring, one can still find quiet in this majestic jewel of the National Park System. Zion, of course, is located in southwestern Utah among other numerous marquee destinations on the Colorado Plateau like …

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Autumn at Snowy Lakes

After a delightful evening spent camped on the Pacific Crest Trail beside Porcupine Creek, Jesse and I crest Cutthroat Pass in mid-morning, and instead of the mountain goats that one often encounters at the pass, we encounter Kevin Murphy, the beloved poet from Bellingham, camping among the rocks by his lonesome. Unlike the goats, he doesn’t inquire about salt. Could …

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Mt. Baker’s Best Hikes: Five Unforgettable Trails

The Cascade Range extends for 700 miles from Northern California to Southern British Columbia. It is a momentous mountain wonderland, with enough beauty spots to occupy many lifetimes of inspired wandering. But in my view, informed by decades of high-country rambling, the apex of all this high-mountain ecstasy can be found along the Mt. Baker Highway. Here are five special …

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Old Friends and Falling Snow: Winter at White Salmon Creek

The snow itself is lonely or, if you prefer, self-sufficient. There is no other time when the whole world seems composed of only one thing and one thing only. – Joseph Wood Krutch   I am old enough to have experienced the profound benefit of long friendships. The arc of a lifetime, when shared with folks who are special to …

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An Autumn Stroll Around Bagley Lakes

Easily overlooked among the Mt. Baker area’s wealth of great hiking trails, the Bagley Lakes Loop is an autumnal delight. This short, easy trail that traces the shores of the sweet little lakes offers a chance for the whole family to savor the luminous colors of fall in a sub-alpine setting. One could complete the loop in an hour, or …

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Back to Nature: The Healing Power of the Natural World

Back in May, as the COVID-19 pandemic was sweeping the planet and lock-downs and quarantines had those of us in the Pacific Northwest isolated, apprehensive and discouraged, I began to think about the healing power of nature. In reading about the Japanese concept of ‘forest bathing’, I found that an accumulation of data about the benefits – physiological, psychological, even …

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Up the River: Autumn Splendor in Twisp River Country

Autumn! For me, savoring the peak of fall color on the eastern slopes of the North Cascades is like a trip to Mecca or the Wailing Wall. A religious observance. At this special time of year, the mountains are ablaze with the orange glow of larches, those unique and exceptionally beautiful deciduous conifers that pepper the high country with luminous …

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Field Trip: The Painted Hills

Way out in the middle of north-central Oregon, the Painted Hills are one of three discontiguous units of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, an under-appreciated gem in our inventory of public lands. All three are worthy of exploration, but the Painted Hills are something special. Located near the weather-beaten hamlet of Mitchell (population: 130), the Painted Hills are …

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