Sourdough Mountain Lookout (c) Commons.Wikipedia

Night, Sourdough Mountain Lookout

Sourdough Mountain lies at the heart of the North Cascades. A mile above the Skagit River canyon at the intersection of six major drainages, it commands one of the most spectacular views in the range.

That summer [the dry summer of 2003] marked a milestone in the cultural history of the mountains. It was the 50th anniversary of poet Gary Snyder’s stint as Sourdough Mountain lookout. Gary’s tenure in the North Cascades, along with fellow writers Phillip Whalen and Jack Kerouac, was celebrated in John Sutter’s 2002 book, Poets on the Peaks.

When the park service decided to reactivate Sourdough Mountain Lookout for the remainder of the 2003 fire season and began looking for a fire guard, friends let me know. I jumped at the opportunity. A few days later I was alone amid one of the most spectacular mountain wilderness landscapes in North America.

Autumn colors and glaciated mountain backdrops are some of the spectacular vistas from Sourdough Mountain Trail (c) R Seifried

Autumn colors and glaciated mountain backdrops are some of the spectacular vistas from Sourdough Mountain Trail (c) R Seifried

Tim McNulty

Through High Still Air
A Season at Sourdough Mountain

Night, Sourdough Mountain Lookout

A late-summer sun
threads the needles of McMillan Spires
and disappears in a reef of coral cloud.

Winds roil the mountain trees,
batter the shutter props.

I light a candle with the coming dark.
Its reflection in the window glass
flickers over mountains and
shadowed valleys
seventeen miles north to Canada.

Not another light.

The lookout is a dim star
anchored to a rib of the planet
like a skiff to a shoal
in a wheeling sea of stars.

Night sky at full flood.

Wildly awake.

______________________

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The Rewilding Institute (TRI) mission is to explore and share tactics and strategies to advance continental-scale conservation and restoration in North America and beyond. We focus on the need for large carnivores and protected wildways for their movement; and we offer a bold, scientifically credible, practically achievable, and hopeful vision for the future of wild Nature and human civilization on planet Earth. |Subscribe | Join The Movement |

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