Special Events

Harvest Dinner at the Learning Center
Return of the Cascadian Carnivores

In a time of environmental crisis, there is something amazing happening here in our own backyard: the renewed presence of rare, large mammals in the North Cascades.


Join North Cascades Institute for a special feast featuring the bounty of our local harvest and an evening presentation on the exciting “Return of the Cascades Carnivores” with wildlife biologists Scott Fitkin, John Rohrer and Bill Gaines. Drawing on their decades of hands-on field work with these rare species, they’ll share the fascinating ecology of the elusive gray wolf, wolverine, lynx and grizzly bear through slides, video, audio and a thoughtful discussion.

Our kitchen staff will prepare a dinner sourced from local producers to showcase the bounty of our foodshed, with an emphasis on local growers and producers in Skagit and Whatcom counties.

Your registration includes the Harvest Dinner, after-dinner presentation, comfortable accommodations in our guest lodges and breakfast the next morning. Optional field excursion on Sunday 10/18: Head out into the field with Rohrer, Fitkin and Gaines to the Washington Pass area to get a first-hand view of trap sites and wild areas under study.

More information and registration at www.ncascades.org/signup/programs/harvest-dinner-2015.

The Nature of Writing Speaker Series
Bellingham Fall 2015

A series of free natural history author readings at Village Books / 1200 11 Street, Bellingham

Join Village Books and North Cascades Institute in welcoming our region’s most gifted writers on the natural world to Bellingham this fall. From the transformation of the Seattle landscape to inspiring stories of reclamation to celebrating the 30th anniversary of a Northwest classic, you'll learn more about our special corner of the planet when these writers share their latest literary works.

David-WilliamsWednesday, September 16, 7pm

Residents and visitors in today's Seattle would barely recognize the landscape that its founding settlers first encountered. As the city grew, its leaders and inhabitants dramatically altered its topography to accommodate their changing visions. In Too High and Too Steep, David B. Williams uses his deep knowledge of Seattle, scientific background, and extensive research and interviews to illuminate the physical challenges and sometimes startling hubris of these large-scale transformations, from the filling in of the Duwamish tideflats to the massive regrading project that pared down Denny Hill. 

David B. Williams is the author of several books, including Cairns: Messengers in Stone and The Seattle Street-Smart Naturalist: Field Notes from the City. He lives in Seattle. 

Kim-HeacoxWEDNEsday, October 7, 7 pm
Kim Heacox, Jimmy Bluefeather – fiction!

Old Keb Wisting is somewhere around ninety-five years old (he lost count a while ago) and thinks he wants to die. He also thinks he thinks too much. Part Norwegian and part Tlingit Native, he’s the last living canoe carver in the village of Jinkaat, in Southeast Alaska. When his grandson, James, a promising basketball player, ruins his leg in a logging accident and tells his grandpa that he has nothing left to live for, Old Keb comes alive and finishes his last canoe, with help from his grandson.

Award-winning writer, photographer and conservationist Kim Heacox has lived in Alaska for 25 years. He has written four books for National Geographic, most recently An American Idea: The Making of the National Parks. Kim has made numerous journeys to Arctic Svalbard and Antarctica, and spends much of his time writing about and photographing life in Earth's polar regions.

For most of the past century, Humbug Valley, a forest-hemmed meadow sacred to the Mountain Maidu tribe, was in the grip of a utility company. Washington’s White Salmon River was saddled with a fish-obstructing, inefficient dam and the Timbisha Shoshone Homeland was unacknowledged within the boundaries of Death Valley National Park.

Until people decided to reclaim them.

In Reclaimers, Ana Maria Spagna drives an aging Buick up and down the long strip of West Coast mountain ranges—the Panamints, the Sierras, the Cascades—and alongside rivers to meet the people, many of them wise women, who persevered for decades with little hope of success to make changes happen. In uncovering their heroic stories, Spagna seeks a way for herself, and for all of us, to take back and to make right in a time of unsettling ecological change.

Ana Maria Spagna is the author of several books, most recently Potluck: Community on the Edge of Wilderness. She lives in Stehekin, Washington. 

award-winning Natural History classic, Wintergreen. In the Willapa Hills of southwest Washington, both the human and the forest communities are threatened with extinction. Virtually every acre of the hills has been logged, often repeatedly, in the past hundred years, endangering both the land and the people, leaving dying towns as well as a devastated ecosystem. Weaving vivid portraits of the place and its inhabitants - animal, plant, and human - with the story of his own love affair with the hills, Robert Michael Pyle’s book is so even-handed in its passion that it has been celebrated by those who make their living with a chain saw as well as by environmentalists. 

Pyle is teaching a writing workshop entitled "Conjuring Words from the Land" on Oct 10, 1-4 pm. Spend an afternoon parsing the territory where literature meets the land. Guided by Robert Michael Pyle, you will have a chance to make fresh words inspired by places, people and other species fresh in your mind. We'll share our words and you'll leave with a  broadened palette of expression and imagination. Details and registration at www.villagebooks.com/event/CW-conjuring-words-pyle-10/10/15.

Robert Michael Pyle is the author of eighteen books, including Chasing MonarchsThe Thunder Tree: Lessons from an Urban WildlandSky Time in Gray’s River: Living for Keeps in a Forgotten Place and the recent poetry collection Evolution of the Genus Iris. A Yale-trained ecologist and a Guggenheim fellow, he is a full-time writer and naturalist living in the Willapa Hills of southwestern Washington.


David Guterson is the author of the novels East of the MountainsOur Lady of the ForestThe OtherEd King, and Snow Falling on Cedars, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award; two story collections, The Country Ahead of Us, the Country Behind and Problems With People; a poetry collection, Songs for a Summons; a memoir, Descent; and Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense. He lives with his family on Bainbridge Island in Washington State.

Saul Weisberg's Headwaters Fall 2015 Book Tour


North Cascades Institute is excited to announce the publication of selected poems of Institute Founder and Executive Director Saul Weisberg!

Over 25 years in the making, Headwaters: Poems & Field Notes, published by Pleasure Boat Studio: A Literary Press, features more than 200 poems written from a seasoned naturalist’s perspective on wilderness and imagination. Weisberg’s poetry grows out of specific images and distinct moments gathered from the natural world. It celebrates green and misty landscapes and the wilderness they hold. In the tradition of poets like Basho, Buson, Robert Sund, Gary Snyder, Tim McNulty and Sam Greene, the poems are an invitation to walk alongside a perceptive observer on rambles in the mountains, runs down the river and ruminations in desert canyons, investigating the ties that bind people and place.

Click here for Fall Tour dates in Olympia, Mazama, Darrington, Sedro-Wooley, Guemes Island, Seattle and Port Townsend, along with an interview, book reviews and more!

An Evening of Mountain Spirit

Tori Karpenko LO Image


November 21, 7pm • Free

Join visual artist Tori Karpenko and Institute Founder and Executive Director Saul Weisberg at Traver Gallery in downtown Seattle for an evening steeped in the transformative power of the mountains.  Inspired by the stories of Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, and Jack Kerouac (who spent summers in the North Cascades in the 1950’s as fire lookouts) and his own experiences in the mountains, Karpenko’s paintings surround a 14’x14’ recreation of a Fire Lookout Cabin.  The iconic hermitage serves as a crystalized form that encapsulates the sanctuary and spiritual inspiration of high mountain wilderness.

The evening will feature an artist’s talk about the “Lookout” project and selected readings by Saul Weisberg from his own writings as well as those of the Beat Poets during their time in the North Cascades. The “Lookout” show runs from November 5 through December 23.   Please join us for this special evening of paintings and poetry; come early at 6:30 for wine and socializing.