John D'Onofrio

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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An Ocean Hymn: The Seductive Pleasures of Shi-Shi Beach

Some sophisticated folks that I know visit Paris every year. Some enjoy a yearly trek in Nepal. I find myself returning to a much-loved locale over and over too.  The lingua franca of my favored destination is the rhythmic unspooling of the ceaseless surf. I return to Shi-Shi Beach. How many times? I’ve lost count. Will I go again? Absolutely. …

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Field Trip: Badwater

We ride into Death Valley in late afternoon, careening down the winding road through the Panamint Range. Down again past the graceful sand dunes of Mesquite Flat, and then down even more towards Badwater, elevation: 282.2 feet below sea level, the bottom of North America. The last golden light bathes the undulating desert hills before slowly giving way to the …

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A Fiery Hike to the Valley of Fire

Just on the outskirts of Cascadia is another hiker’s haven. It is aptly named Valley of Fire because the site literally looks on fire on a hot, sunny day. It is located in Overton, Nevada, just 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas, and boasts of a range of rock formations including crimson red sandstone spires, stunning arches, and oddly-shaped boulders. …

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The Topography of Paradise: Autumn at Lake O’Hara

  I first set eyes on Lake O’Hara way back in 1991. It was the last day of July. It snowed. I was there on a whim, having heard about this beautiful place in the Canadian Rockies, travelling with some friends on an extended backpacking trip. We were looking for magic. We found it at Lake O’Hara. Since that first …

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