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Hike/Climb

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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The Finest Kind of Madness

Origin — a beginning. We all start somewhere. This is where the Madness begins, I suppose; In random passing, a glancing blow. Driving the sinuous byway of Washington State’s North Cascades Highway, some three hours after turning east from the high-test thrum of the Interstate corridor and onto the only road to cleave the wilderness of the North Cascades National …

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Redemption on Mt. Shuksan: Lessons Learned on the Northwest Rib

  In 2017, I experienced a failure that I did not expect. I have been working as a mountain guide for the last twenty years. I’ve guided throughout the Western United States and have also spent time working in both Alaska and in South America. I was an American Mountain Guides Association Certified Rock Guide, a guide trainer at the …

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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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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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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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San Josef Bay: Vancouver Island’s Most Beautiful Beach

When the guidebook described San Josef Bay as “the most beautiful beach on the Island” I knew we had to include it in our explorations of the north end of Vancouver Island. Tucked into the west coast of Vancouver Island just south of Cape Scott the beach at San Josef Bay is as remote as it is beautiful. We depart …

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Doppelgänger on Mount Baker!

Whether you climb up the mountain or go down the hill to the valley, whether you journey to the end of the world or merely walk around your house, none but yourself shall you meet. –   Maurice Maeterlinck, La sagesse et las destinée (Wisdom and Destiny) 1898   Early this year I got a call from a long-time climbing buddy: how …

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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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A Walk in the Park: Hidden Lake Peaks

North Cascades National Park is home to some of North America’s most awe-inspiring hiking trails. It’s truly a hiker’s park, sharing it’s most transcendent charms only with those willing to meet it on its own terms. The trail to Hidden Lake Peaks epitomizes this pay-to-play scenario, although in this case, the payment in sweat equity is moderate. In truth, you …

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