Table of Contents


General Introduction


Impressions of the North Cascades
Essays about a Northwest Landscape

Part II: Landscapes of Experience

Introduction to Part II

Probing the past, we find many North Cascades. So, too, when we travel there in the present. We go into these mountains to ski at Mount Baker, Stevens Pass, or Mission Ridge. We hike in summer to Cascade Pass, Monte Cristo, or Snow Lake. We find inspiration, adventure, solitude, and natural beauty. We may live around these mountains, the rhythms of our days governed by the forces of climate and weather and the constraints of remoteness. We may be merely visiting, and may come here to learn, to heal, to grow, or even to retreat. Whatever brings us, we feel the power of the place and are changed by it.

Our lives are fast-paced and stressful. We build a cabin in the mountains to which we withdraw to think and take stock and reconnect to nature. Or we travel light, taking all we need on our backs, and climb up the passes and peaks for the fun and sport of the trip. We come with sketchbook and journal, sit for hours trying to capture the essence of a scene. We botanize and watch birds and butterflies. We city dwellers find reconnection to some roots here. We are incurable romantics about wild places, imagining ourselves to be figures in adventures from an imaginary past.

Each year we encounter more fellow mountain travelers. Popular trails are crowded on fine summer days. We need permits to travel overnight in some areas. The prospect of permits for day hikes looms for heavily used trails. Our growing numbers threaten the freedom and solitude we seek on mountain trips. Waves of development lap up onto the western foothills.

A few of us live in and around these mountains. We work here, suffer the inconveniences and pain of isolation, and enjoy the rewards of solitude. Our roots may be deep in the land and the community, our consciousness of this place shared with many others. We tell stories of our lives here, and find humor and solace in the telling. These stories, often dominated by powerful nature, define our community. This is our place, we say, and we love it.

For some, the North Cascades is just scenery, a landscape of rock and snow, high meadow and deep-green mountainside, alpenglow and scarves of cloud. All who come here are struck by this scenery, but those who see only the scenery and travel quickly on experience only the surface of this land. Those who have the opportunity to look beneath the scenery find a rich and complex tapestry spun by the interaction of diverse communities.

Here, in the experiences of a few who have lingered and studied and reflected on this place, we find insights into these worlds.

Previous Contents Next
North Cascades Conservation Council
P.O. Box 95980
Seattle, WA 98145-2980