Imagine The Pasayten
Thirty-seven years ago, at the age of 19, I was a backpacker northbound on the Pacific Crest Trail.
In late August of 1973, atop Slate Peak, I finally reached the edge of the great and mysterious Pasayten Wilderness.
Five weeks of solo travel seemed trivial now that I was about to step into this incredibly lonely, windswept jumble of peaks that lay in front of me.
I was in awe, and felt as if I were the first, although of course I wasn't. Looking back on that day,
I wonder what it takes to sustain those feelings as the years pass by, as life wears away at us, as we come to realize that there are always distant boundaries,
as our romantic views of wild places fade with the responsibilities of adulthood.
Yet, for some reason which I can't explain, I still get that same sensation whenever I journey back up to Slate.
I never guessed back then that I would someday have the enormous privilege of photographing some
of the greatest peaks and ranges of the western US and Canada from the air.
But through all those travels and adventures, that wonderful corner of the North Cascades is a constant pull.
To stand at Slate, to climb Mt. Lago, to dip my hand in the sublime Dot Lake, to endure lightning at Horseshoe Basin,
to be tent-bound in the Ashnola highland with a late fall storm whistling through the larches, the jingle of hobbled mules nearby in the snowy dark:
These are my visions of the Pasayten and the North Cascades, and the sustaining heart of my own wilderness imagination.
~~ Originally written for The Wilderness Society ~~