We are excited to announce that James K. Papp’s “Cascades Calling: A Story of Communion” has been published in the Summer 2022 edition of fabulous Adventures Northwest magazine. Included with the story is his early morning photograph of one of his favorite places on Earth, remote Glacier Peak Meadows in the North Cascades Mountain Range of Washington State.
This vast meadow system is a super hiker base for days of highland roaming and a place James has returned to many times over the years. Dramatic 10,541 foot Glacier Peak (or Dakobed), located midway between Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier, is the most isolated of the five stratovolcanoes in Washington.
What is the mysterious force that draws some of us again and again to the mountains? Perhaps occasionally over a period of years we will visit a certain meadow, lake, or peak, and suddenly realize one day while leaving it that part of our heart is still there. Thus begins a particular kind of love affair with a place that asks for—and even demands—involvement and attention.
Oh, the North Cascades! My first Cascadian experience was, thanks to an inspired college buddy, a grueling, sweaty slog on a late summer day straight up the old roots-for-handholds trail to Lake Serene. My knees ached so hard after the descent that I vowed it to be the first and last trip ever up that questionable route. Even the breathtaking chill as the sun set behind the sheer north wall of Mount Index at 2:30 p.m. was not enough to sway me.
A few years later I arrived soaking wet at fog-shrouded Pinnacle Lake with what I later learned was first stage hypothermia. As my teeth chattered, our party of four foraged for a good half hour in a rockslide to find enough dry wood to start the campfire that would save the day. Warming from that fire with a cup of hot tea was an absolute joy.
Thirty years later, hiking and backpacking in the Cascades of Washington State is a central part of my life, as important as anything I do. Bits of my heart have been planted here and there, particularly in certain meadows around Glacier Peak and in precious parts of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. These high places have become like a second home, completing some part of me that was lost unknowingly in younger days when I had temporarily forgotten about the outdoors.
Perspective is the first of the great gifts received by taking oneself into the wild. For me, it came from experiencing the expansive and fragile beauty of wondrously flowered, multi-hued mountain meadows. Places of beauty touch us within. Messages from trees, rocks, and animals may be heard or, more accurately, felt.
Communion with Nature changes us. It makes us happier and more complete, better companions to our fellow human beings with whom we share the social order.
And the Cascades offer the opportunity to change your perspective and open your heart, to gain an awareness that I can only term spiritual. Maybe one day, on a day hike from camp—a scramble up to the top of the butte overlooking a lake—you realize that the total experience is too large to take in. Drink as one may, the thirst cannot be quenched. There is no way to fully appreciate this magical landscape in one day—or even one trip.
The hiker’s spirit mingles with the spirit of the place. A greater vision of one’s life and how to live it is gained. As a result, a greater vision of one’s life unfolds. A heart more tolerant of others—in the meadow and in the city—opens, creating a new freedom to walk with confidence on the path of life.
Glacier Peak Meadows, photographed by James K. Papp, is available to purchase in a variety of print mediums from Fine Art America.