柴犬
Cascade Pass
Going back. Have to.

Cascade Pass

Going back. Have to.

And time passed.

fieldnotes

In ancient times when the wind spoke to men and women it also spoke to dogs. When an ancient dog heard wind he heard everything. I believe this is not customarily understood. Anthropologists say dogs came to the human realm because we were throwing out the bones. But you can’t understand a creature just by its appetites. Dogs have always understood the air is enchanted all around us. They have always understood the telegraphy of swallows crossing the sunbeams between trees. Like an arrow they came just to tell us the good news. And dogs know the darkening tunnel inside the wind. I tell you they know who lives there. That is what you hear when a dog is dreaming. I tell you, dogs pour out in choirs their dreamy souls. And then they go for walks.

Stephen Kuusisto — Dog Walking 101

It was a reminder that “heaven” was merely a matter of attention, of listening to the sounds of nature, of tuning into the world.

Richard Lewis

O Peregrino! An Allegory Of Bird Song And Barking Dogs

The light is changing.

fieldnotes

Step by step by step he felt a strange sense of no-where-ness come over him accompanied by an unbroken peace. He loved the nowhere feeling. It was similar to the feeling being lost, lost in a dream.

Richard Lewis

O Peregrino! An Allegory Of Bird Song And Barking Dogs

Cascade Pass

Cascade Pass

Rockport on the Skagit River

Rockport on the Skagit River

I thought I knew mountains but then I went to the North Cascades. I grew up in Washington and lived in Belligham for fourteen years but for some reason never made the trip over Washington Pass.

We’ve been on dozens of day trips into the mountains around the valley, to the mouth of the Columbia River at Cape Disappointment, up the coast of Washington, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, Columbia River Gorge and about six different wilderness areas. We’ve covered a lot of road and been through a lot of little towns but I didn’t expect what it was I was going to see in the North Cascades.

The landscape of the North Cascades is bounded by the Fraser River on the north, the Okanogan Highlands and Columbia Plateau on the east, Snoqualmie Pass to the south, and the Puget lowlands to the west. Mountains, rising nearly from sea level, are the signature of this magnificent place. Fifteen peaks tower over 9,000 feet while nearly 300 rise in elevation between 7,000 and 9,000 feet. All we did was nibble the edges.

The North Cascades are a massive knot of deformed and metamorphosed, structurally complex pre-Tertiary rocks of mountain ranges within mountain ranges within mountain ranges. The Picket Range for example is a small, extremely rugged subrange of the North Cascades. It is entirely contained within North Cascades National Park. It is about 6 miles long with 21 peaks (with names like Terror, Challenger, Fury, and The Chopping Block) over 7,500 ft high and that is crazy.

During the last ice age ice covered the landscape to a mile thick. The ice carved enormous U shaped valleys. There are 300 active glaciers in the North Cascades ranges.

You step into this place and the first thing is you don’t really see it you feel it. Rockport is over 100 miles from the tidewater of Puget Sound and only about 200 feet above sea level. There are 5,000 ft pitches on the trails to the high country. The steepness of the geography is hypnotic. There are uncountable rivulets, streams, creeks, rivers draining the complex of mountains. And there is the emerald green sometime sapphire blue Skagit.

The high summer riparian zones are as dense a jungle as you can find anywhere. The biomass here is staggering. And I felt like I was doing a lot of staggering. I would look at it, try to take it in, and my mind would go blank. My mind is still blank. Writing about it or taking pictures of it is not the same as standing in the middle of it. And to stand in the middle of it is to let it press in on you. When it presses in on you it changes you. I don’t know how else to describe it.

Got caught in a thunder and lightning storm with torrential rain on Goodell Creek. We were almost killed by a runaway truck on the Thornton Lake Road. Drove the spooky and memorable Lost River Road someone hacked out of the rock on a side of a mountain with that one side crumbling into an abyss. Got caught in a thunder and lightning storm with torrential rain on Harts Pass.

Harts Pass is where my life changed. The morning brought patches of blue sky and sun and high clouds and mist rising from the deep mountain valleys. We drove up the Slate Peak road and walked to the lookout and gazed into the knot of mountains called the North Cascades. I couldn’t blink or think and was giddy at the prospect before me. There was terror and calm. It was strange. I am still trying to figure it out but there was something fundamental, basic, I don’t know what. I was drawn in. I knew I was going to come back even before I left.

There were mountains and friends. It was the best feeling I’ve had all summer.

fieldnotes