Tag Archives: mt baker

A Passion for Home

Twenty-five years ago, I moved to Bellingham, Washington to ski and pursue a degree at Western Washington University. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Mt. Baker was about to set a world record for snowfall. That first winter totally changed the course of my life. I instantly became hooked on the deep powder skiing and the rugged and seemingly endless …

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Dancing on Sauk Mountain

As the snow begins to retreat in the North Cascades, and the color scheme ever so slowly shifts from white to green, I get the itch. Of course, having plied these North Cascades for numerous happy decades, I am used to waiting: there’s a lot of snow up there, and it melts out slowly, unveiling the verdant greenery in its …

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Ski to Sea Race Turns 50

Get out the candles—Ski to Sea celebrates its 50th birthday this year on May 28, and the celebration promises to be one for the ages. I love that week when you start seeing all the cars with boats, bikes, and skis on them, and it hits me that it is GO time. Inspired by the original Mt. Baker Marathon (1911-13), …

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A Winter’s Day at Coleman Pinnacle

The Mt. Baker Highway is unusual. As one of Washington’s few high mountain roads that remains (mostly) open in winter, it provides access to the alpine that otherwise just isn’t feasible in other parts of the North Cascades due to a combination of snowed-in roads and the abbreviated daylight hours of winter. The Highway, officially known as SR-542, is plowed …

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Winter’s Path: A Walk through the Cascade Mountains

I push forward through days spread out over decades. Days that have taken me into nearly every corner of the Cascade Mountains where snow weighs heavy on my shoulders, just as it does on the boughs of the evergreens that groan with each additional snowflake. Days where clouds open up and my place in the world is defined. Days spent …

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The Paycheck of a Lookout Janitor

To be at work and at play at the same time is to know inspiration. To labor with passionate commitment on something you believe in is to know fulfillment. But to simply awaken at 6521 feet to a dazzling sunrise is to experience the exalted treasure of one of Washington’s remaining fire lookouts. I became lookout chairman 14 years ago, …

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Variations on a Theme of Wonder

I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for 32 years, giving me time to study it, finding unparalleled variety and wonder everywhere I look. From glacier-clad mountains, to the forests growing on their flanks and down to the lowlands—where they’ve been allowed to survive without logging, to the details within those forests, to our magnificent coastline, and even to the geometric …

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Mea Culpa

It was time, I suppose, for a revitalized sense of humility: not meekness or servility, exactly, but more a respectful modesty about abilities, beliefs, understandings. The basics: a late-winter backcountry ski tour with friends in familiar terrain. There were four of us. I was the one with the most backcountry experience, the most local knowledge, the most specific avalanche training, …

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Searching for Phantoms: Wolverines in the North Cascades

 Inhospitable.  That’s it, in a word. Inhospitable. The word for today—and for this landscape. The three of us were working our way across the terrain of the North Cascades, ostensibly out here recreating but more accurately, persevering. Here in the shadows of the White Salmon Basin, the sun will not crest the north face of Mt. Shuksan for some hours …

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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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