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Tag Archives: north cascades

The Art of Hokking

In the remote Altai Mountains of Northwest China the word for ski is “Hok”. For me, in the North Cascade Mountains of Washington, the word for fun is Hok! Ever since Nils Larsen introduced me to these short, fat skis I’ve had more fun than ever on snow days. Full disclosure here; I’m a professional. I ran a Nordic ski …

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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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Autumn in the North Cascades

In 1976 I planned my first trip to the Pacific Northwest.  With two friends, I hitchhiked from Eastern Pennsylvania to Cascade Locks in Oregon and hiked the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) south to Crater Lake.  I borrowed a friend’s Nikkormat camera for the trip and tried hard to capture the look and feel of what I saw.  Since that first …

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Pass or Fail: A Gravity Lesson at Rainy Pass

Through the sweat dripping from my brow, I squinted to read the sign: “Rainy Pass, elevation 4855.” I collapsed on the gravel. Staring up at the pine trees in the forested rest area I silently celebrated and waited for the other two. Nate and Bayly should have been just behind me. They never showed up. The morning of July 2, …

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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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Gear Spotlight: Mountaineering 101

Do you enjoy hiking uphill for a really long time? Have you thought about mountaineering, but are unsure where to start? Just outside of Bellingham, in the North Cascades, we have access to some of the best mountaineering in the lower 48. Stark and dramatic, rock and ice environs are a perfect place to enjoy being alive. Here are some …

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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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Sarah Finger: A Deeply Etched Love for Local Landscapes

After a quick burn on Galbraith or hike up in the North Cascades, Sarah Finger is likely to be the one across the bar from you slinging your après trail beer. But she also has a strong connection to that magnificent landscape you can’t stop staring at on the can of IPA you’re slugging down. She’s the artist who created …

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The Problem With Drones

Imagine, if you will, a pleasant afternoon of tranquil rambling in the green meadows of the North Cascades. But then you begin to be aware of a high-pitched buzz above you. Not a mosquito. A drone, hovering just overhead. Approximately the size of a toaster, with four rotors spinning rapidly and a high-definition camera slung beneath it. The spell is …

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Graduation Day

I am inescapably and resoundingly middle-aged. I have been a college student for three years now, liquidating savings and borrowing heavily against presumed future earnings. Recently—remarkably—I graduated: thirty years almost to the day since I finished high school. Early that morning I drove to the mountains for a celebratory ski in the Mt. Baker backcountry, my excuse being that I …

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