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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Guest post from a board member's son

Here's an inspiring blog post from Trevor Fenner, who recently spend 6 days in the Mt. Baker Wilderness with his Dad and Uncle:

The North Cascades

Wicked beauty. Sharp rocks, steep cliffs, hidden passageways, glaciers, and snow bridges. This place is not the cute national park many think of when they go car camping, this place is real wilderness. Much like Alaska, and remote parts of Canada, the north cascades are one of the last remaining places on earth that are truly remote. To reach much of the national park, one must suit up and pack for 20 miles of hiking and at least a week of camping. The best part about backpacking the north cascades in the summer time is the tranquility. Not many people go backpacking, which makes the experience much more peaceful for those that do, and in the summer time the clouds give way to sunshine and warmth that are rare for these areas.
The mountains and valleys feel like a giant outdoor cathedral where the great creations of Mother Nature can be seen, felt, smelled, tasted and experienced. The wildlife out here is rare, but the occasional critter peaks up every now and again, sometimes making a distinct sound. The birds are majestic. Bald eagles, golden eagles, and hawks can be seen soaring high above the ridge tops looking for prey.



Friday, August 1, 2014

Monday, July 28, 2014

Laurel Mundy was Artist in Residence at North Cascades NP this summer

Illustrator Laurel Mundy completed a brief residence in the park in July. Here are some of the scientific and natural illustrations inspired by her time in the North Cascades.
All images are ©Laurel Mundy (Laurel Mundy Illustration) — at Cascade Pass.

Laurel also welcomes you to view her Facebook illustration page ( to get a look at some of her other works.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sustainable Roads results will be reported at upcoming public meetings

We all have a favorite long mountain road we remember driving way up into the subalpine country, with a short hike at the end leading to open meadows and views. Some might remember that before that logging road was built there was a long hike through deep forest involved, lost when that road was built to 'get out the cut.'

"Logging-road mileage has more than doubled in Northwest national forests since 1960, far outstripping the pace of street and highway construction in the region" -
It hasn't been a big surprise that a lot of those roads have been cut off by washouts, blowouts, avalanches, slumps... you name it... since they webuilt. Now the Forest Service is no longer aggressively building roads and cutting, but all those old roads remain. The road budget is way down, but many hikers still want to do that long drive to a short hike, and instead they run into Road Closed signs.

The Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest (MBSNF) started a program to try to determine where to spend their scarce road repair funds, calling it the Sustainable Roads Project, and took public input as one part of that. NCCC has been tracking this process closely. There will be some hard choices to make. If scarce dollars aren't properly allocated, few if any may get the precious "access" they seek.

Now MBNSF is preparing to report the results of their survey of public input. The data collection that will be reported on was designed to assess the public use levels and knowledge of the 2,500 miles of Forest Service roads on the MBNSF, as a first step.

MBSNF is holding four meetings to present these results to the public who contributed the data input. These meetings are planned as follows:

July 17, 6:00 − 8:30 pm
Park Place Middle School Commons
1408 W. MainStreet
Monroe, WA 98272

July 24, 6:00 − 8:30 pm
Issaquah Main Library
10 West Sunset Way
Issaquah, WA 98027

July 29, 2:00 − 4:30 pm
The Mountaineers [Seattle]
7700 Sand Point Way NE
Seattle, WA 98115

July 31, 6:00 − 8:30 pm
Darrington Community Center
570 Sauk Avenue
Darrington, WA 98241

This public input is only one aspect of MBS's development of a Sustainable Roads Strategy, due out in 2015, which is to provide guidance for “right-sizing” and maintaining the roads on the forest. 

If you would like more information you may attend one of these public meetings, please RSVP:, please note that’s mbs_pao with an underscore. Also you may go to

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Wild Cascades will hit your mailbox soon - IF you're a member!


Spring/Summer 2014 issue of The Wild Cascades

Celebrating 50 Years of The Wilderness Act!
  • Granite MotoCross permit issued; appellants strongly object 
  • Snohomish County takes interest in Wallace Falls
  • Mining proposed in the headwaters of the Methow River above Mazama
  • Meet Doctor Polly
  • Green Mountain Lookout to remain
  • NCCC Actions, October 2013 – June 2014
  • Protecting Wilderness: A personal meditation
  • Rowland Tabor: Geology and the Wilderness ethic in the North Cascades 
  • Forty years of geology in the North Cascades and growth of the Wilderness ethic
  • The 1984 Washington Wilderness Act – 30 years on
  • Book Review: The Wild Nearby
  • Book Review: The North Cascades Highway: A Roadside Guide to America’s Alps
  • NCCC joins FFCC to advocate for forest management to protect climate
  • How large should Glacier Peak Wilderness be?
  • Images of overuse
  • Fall events celebrating Wilderness
  • The Corvid’s eye
  • Cascade rambles: Foothill fancy
  • Yet another dam threatens Similkameen River
  • Holly time bomb in NW forests
  • Cascades trip report: 10 years after: Revisiting S Mountain
  • 26 Water users propose Icicle Creek water project in Wilderness
Like to have your issue of TWC arrive weeks before it appears online? Join us!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Trip report: Hidden Lake Lookout

Finally, the trip report and photo gallery.

I’ll keep this brief, as the accompanying photos will help tell the story of Hidden Lake Lookout (HLLO) 2014, but suffice it to say this little USFS fire lookout is the best structure in the state of Washington.
I first visited HLLO in late June 1989—I can hardly believe 25 years have passed, and that I waited until I was 25 years old to first go there!  Since then I’ve visited about every three years, as I believe this was my eighth time to the snug house cabled to the top of a mountain.  Not just any mountain, but a snow-capped 2,100 meter crag sitting at, and marking the confluence of,  the Cascade River; within direct line of sight of tidewater at the San Juan Islands.    Situated closely west of the North Cascade crest, this little mountain has expansive views of over 100 separate named summits, and nearly as many glaciers.  I think it was Betty or Harvey Manning that once said they preferred to be on “lesser” summits because it was always more fun/better views to look up at big peaks, than to look down on everything.  This is especially true when there are views to higher peaks, but also a vertical mile down to the winding, roaring Cascade River.  The “waves of mountains as far as they eye can see” certainly applies here.
As for the glaciers:  the snow pack this year is all about appearance, and not about substance.  That is, while the mountains look to be cloaked in deep snow, the water content is low, and it really is a veneer of white.  I hit snow right at the edge of the forest (most years in May/June there is snow at the parking lot, this time more than a mile up the trail), but the amount of avalanche debris in the Sibley gully was not impressive--full of gaps and simply not that much of it.  Of course, this also meant the ascent was done in complete safety, with avalanche lilies carpeting the already emerging meadows around 5,000 feet elevation.  My early start meant the snow was in great shape for hiking the long traverse around the true summit of Hidden Lake Peak.  I almost needed crampons in the steep shaded areas exiting the gully, but it was the right call to bring neither snowshoes (not even in the car) nor crampons (left in the car).  The scary ascent/traverse of the E face of the lookout peak was not too bad, with no threat of cornice avalanche on my head, and a nice steep “out” to miss the lower cornices.  It was really sloopy/soggy, but at least I wasn’t breaking through to the sharp rocks below. 
Again, I should note the lack of avalanches in the Hidden Lake basin.  Where normally there are huge blocks of debris from all sides of the big, cliffy cirque, this time things are really sparse, and what’s left of the cornices are melting in place—a sad tale if you’re a glacier.
The lookout is just as lovely as it was 25 years ago, perhaps even nicer thanks to the efforts of the “Friends of Hidden Lake Lookout” (of which I am a member).  As I wrote in the logbook there:
Today is the 70th anniversary of D-day, and the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964 is coming up.  We stand on the shoulders of Giants.  Thanks to Friends of HLLO (special shout to Ginny and Robert), and to Betty and Harvey Manning, Polly and John Dyer, Laura and Phil Zalesky, Christine and Patrick Goldsworthy, Margaret and Joe Miller (Joe was on Omaha Beach 70 years ago today), and all of the North Cascades Conservation Council.
By the way, the comment about “shoulders of Giants” is also a pun about standing on the shoulder of a big mountain.
How many have ever lived at the top of a mountain for a day?  I strive to spend at least one hour at every summit I visit (or used to visit, as the case may be).  I prefer to spend at least two nights at a given location to really get to know it, and to live it.  Thus, spending an entire 24 cycle at a summit is a real treat, made more-so by having a house there!  I am ever thankful for the desire and ability to do these things—I recognize I won’t be able to do this much longer.  This should have been one of the easiest trips of the year, but I came away creaking and gimpy.  Still, I managed to do it exactly as planned, and wasn’t even that scared descending the E face/traverse (mainly because I could go slow due to no avalanche threat). 

Photo gallery: