Tag Archives: mt baker

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, …

Read More »

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 …

Read More »

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, …

Read More »

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 …

Read More »

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 …

Read More »

The Cold Shoulder

The gold Grand Marquis in the ditch was probably a sign. But that was a mile or so back now. Driving up Forest Road 39 has become a death-defying experience. The higher we go, the more the road surface devolves, glazed over in a sheen of glare ice. The first snow of the season has turned against us. I’m joined …

Read More »

Winter Splendor in the North Cascades

The jet stream of moisture-laden clouds has pummeled the Pacific Northwest for days. The winds begin to shift from the southwest to the northeast, bringing cold, dry air from Canada driven by an encroaching high pressure system. The stage is set and the curtain of grey slowly rises, revealing the stars of the show: the jagged peaks of the North …

Read More »

Reimagining Recreation

  “If we approached rivers, mountains, dragonflies, redwoods and reptiles as if all are alive, intelligent and suffused with soul, imagination and purpose, what might the world become?” “Who would WE become if we participated intentionally with such an animate earth?”                                       …

Read More »

A Beautiful Bad Idea

 I was sprawled out yard-sale style on the Coleman Glacier, high on the slopes of Mt. Baker. One ski was broken. Blood was splattered across the snow. A quick check revealed a perfect circular puncture wound in my thigh from where I’d impaled myself with a broken pole. I was shocked and embarrassed. But mostly, I was crushed. Could I …

Read More »

A Mt. Baker Circumnavigation

As I stumbled down the rocky Swift Creek Trail in the dark, every side creek, ravine, and small gully was simply gushing—all tumbling into Swift Creek in the valley bottom below.  Soon I would have to ford this creek at a notorious crossing, and my apprehension was on the rise—was it my imagination or did Swift Creek sound louder every …

Read More »