As an author, contributing to a gorgeous collaboration like The North Cascades: Finding Beauty and Renewal in the Wild Nearby, is a (sorry, I can’t resist) peak experience.
When I got my hands on the final product, I was thrilled by the result.
The 190-page paperback coffee-table book, with two hundred or so glorious illustrations, goes on sale about October 1. I’m the lead author, but it’s very much a group labor of love by eight writers, twenty-eight photographers, two artists, and with several historic images.
Some thirty organizational partners and more than forty donors helped make publication possible by Braided River, the conservation imprint of Mountaineers Books of Seattle. That keeps the retail list price to $29.95, a real bargain for a book of this quality, and makes it the best Christmas present ever.
The North Cascades are also known as the American Alps, and the book has the kind of stunning panoramas you’d expect. But the book’s pictures also zero in on people, animals, plants, insects, leaves, rocks…it captures the full sensual glory of this range in northern Washington State.
Writing contributors include Pulitzer-winning poet Gary Snyder (who was a North Cascades fire lookout in the 1950s), Richard Louv, author of the bestselling Last Child in the Woods, thirteen profiles of North Cascades people by Christian Martin of the North Cascades Institute, and trail suggestions by exert trail-book guide author Craig Romano.
Pulling the team together was publisher Helen Cherullo and acquisitions editor Deb Easter. Making the book sing were the designers and editors at Mountaineers and Braided River. Working on a novel is a somewhat solitary experience, so it was fun to partner with so many smart, creative people.
My contribution was the central essay, two sidebars on North Cascades history, and a historic timeline. While the book’s heart is the national park core, we defined the range as reaching from Washington’s Interstate 90 to the Fraser River Valley in southern British Columbia, a span of about two hundred miles. That made the geography varied, the issues complex, and the future intriguing.
I think that as a group we wound up with a great read as well as pretty pictures. I’m hoping this one will be a keeper for anyone who loves mountains.
The book’s timing was keyed to the passage of the Wilderness Act fifty years ago. It also follows by fifty years The North Cascades, an earlier black and white coffee table Mountaineers book by photographer Tom Miller, author Harvey Manning, and mapmaker Dee Molenaar.
I recently heard from a reader who still treasures his copy of that book, fifty years on. I’m hoping someone will still be enjoying this one in 2064!