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  • Creative Pursuit and Public Lands

    I woke up to a cool and foggy morning here in the Snoqualmie valley, autumn is here.  Although summer is full of fun, outdoor adventures, I do look forward to cooler days spent outside enjoying the changing leaves, rivers full of spawning salmon, and the sound of migrating Canadian geese.  I hope you continue to take your knitting with you on your fall wilderness adventures and be sure to share them with us on Instagram #knitforadventure and #CampTolt

    We are thrilled to have Sara Bateman here on our blog sharing a bit about her life as a park ranger, photographer, fiber artist and knitter and to share with us some of her favorite spots to enjoy fall in the North Cascades.


    Middle Fork Hat at Park Butte


    Art making was what originally led me to a life lived on public lands. Studying photography as an undergraduate, I was enamored by photographers that captured the American West, from the renowned Ansel Adams to contemporaries like Mark Klett. I spent a large portion of my college years focused on a growing love for large format photography and a dream to live in Yosemite National Park.


    At the age of 23, I made that dream a reality. I gave away everything that would not fit in a backpack and bought a one-way bus ticket bound for California to live, explore and create in a national park that had been captivating my imagination. To this day, I have continued my love affair with public lands, spanning a career spent working in both the arts field and as a park ranger.


    As I explored my backyard in places including Big Bend, Zion, Mount Rainier and North Cascades, I became interested in craft artists and the innate relationship they had between their creative practice and the landscape that surrounded them. Of the crafts I came across, it was the work of fiber artists that captivated me. From the beliefs held in the strips of cedar forming a Coast Salish basket to histories told through a Navajo weaving, the connection fiber had, both in material and story, spoke to me in a way I had not experienced since first learning photography.


    At this time, my mother had been knitting for well over a decade. While I had always admired what she produced on her knitting needles, it was experiencing the full circle connection between material and landscape that made me want to begin my own fiber journey. From a beautiful skein of Navajo spun yarn found at Arizona’s Hubbell Trading Post to the Methow Valley Romney wool produced at McFarland Creek Lamb Ranch using predator friendly techniques, the tactile nature of the material and its connection to the place I was exploring drew me to this creative practice.


    Hyak Socks at Park Butte

    Ptarmigan Ridge Trail


    With my mother as my fiber mentor, I have delved into the trial and error, fascination and joy that encompass learning a new art form. And the best part is having found my new favorite hiking companions – knitting needles and a beautiful skein of yarn. This past summer, whether I was day hiking in the North Cascades or backpacking Mount Rainier’s Northern Loop, my pack was almost always carrying a knitting project. The beauty of honing one’s creativity in the natural world was something I discovered years ago and the meditative practice of knitting in the wilderness has deeply added to this experience. 
    Mount Baker

    Want to knit on the trail this fall? Here’s this park ranger’s top recommendations for exploring fall time in the North Cascades and getting your own wilderness time to #knitforadventure:


    Blue Lake: Located on the eastern slopes of the North Cascades in the Okanogan National Forest, this sweet little hike leads you to a gorgeous alpine lake, passing meadow areas and granite cliffs along the way. With an inviting rocky area on the lake’s edge, you’ll have a beautiful spot to work on your knitting. Keep your eyes open for golden larches and mountain goats. 4.4 miles round-trip, 1050 feet elevation gain.


    Easy Pass: If you are not familiar with larches, then make this autumn your first experience. Larches are a coniferous tree with deciduous needles that produce a stunning golden fall display not typically associated with the conifer family. And Easy Pass has no shortage of larches come fall. A demanding hike, bring that knitting project to give yourself ample rest breaks along the way. 7 miles round-trip, 2800 feet elevation gain. 


    Ptarmigan Ridge to Sholes Glacier: Want to knit at the edge of a glacier? Then this hike is for you. Beginning from Artist’s Point on the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, this trail takes you face-to-face with Mount Baker while wandering through a fall color display of fiery red mountain blueberry and sedges glistening in bold yellows. 11.8 miles round-trip, 1470 feet elevation gain.


    Park Butte: Does knitting on the porch of a historic fire lookout sound like a great way to pass an afternoon? Then head up to Park Butte, a 1932 fire lookout located in the Mount Baker Wilderness. The meadows you’ll pass on the hike to the lookout are currently alive with fall color and the lookout itself puts forth a display of peaks, with Mount Baker stealing the show. If an overnight adventure is of interest, the lookout is available on a first-come, first-served basis.  7.5 miles round-trip, 2200 feet elevation gain.


    Enjoy knitting in the wilderness and remember to follow Leave No Trace ethics during your adventure!


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