Special Events

Coming up with North Cascades Institute....

Thank you for supporting our special events in 2017. stay tuned for a special slate of events, classes and presentations celebrating North cascades national park's 50th anniversary in 2018....

Fall Nature of Writing 2017

Village Books and North Cascades Institute present The Nature of Writing Speaker Series Fall 2017

As the days grow shorter and nights longer, head into winter with new books that explore and celebrate the natural wonders of the world! Join Village Books and North Cascades Institute in welcoming authors to Fairhaven to share their latest works. From Sasquatch to clouds, climate change to razor clams and dragonflies to nature’s color palette, you'll learn more about our wondrous planet through the voices of our country's most gifted nature interpreters.

All readings are free and take place at the Readings Gallery at Village Books, 1200 11th Street, Bellingham

Dragonflies Cover
Friday, September 8, 7pm

James S. Walker
Common Dragonflies of the Pacific Coast: A Life Size Field Guide

Common Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Pacific Coast is a unique field guide that combines state-of- the-art features for identifying dragonflies, such as range maps, flight season charts, life size and annotated photos for each species. It also features exciting new discoveries about their lives like the splash-dunk/spin-dry behavior, in which a dragonfly plunges into the water multiple times to bathe, and then spins at 1,000 rpm in mid flight to shed the water—the fastest known spinning motion of any animal! Filled with beautiful photos and original illustrations, this field guide will help to get you on a first name basis with these wonderful, yet little-known creatures.

James S. Walker is a retired professor of theoretical physics from Washington State University. He received his Ph. D. in theoretical physics from the University of Washington and has taught physics courses at Western Washington University. Professor Walker and his wife Betsy divide their time between Washington and Arizona, and enjoy birding and dragonflying in both locations.

Growing a Revolution Cover
Saturday, September 23, 7pm

David Montgomery
Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life

Growing a Revolution cuts through debates about conventional and organic farming, showing how a “soil health revolution” could bring farmland soil back to life. Combining ancient wisdom with modern science, Montgomery offers a vision where agriculture becomes the solution to environmental problems, helping feed us all and cool the planet.

David R. Montgomery is a MacArthur Fellow, professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington and an internationally-recognized geologist who studies landscape evolution and the effects of geological processes on ecological systems and human societies. An author of award-winning popular science books, he has been featured in documentary films and a wide variety of TV and radio programs including NOVA, PBS NewsHour and All Things Considered.

Colors of the West cover
Sunday, September 24, 4pm

Molly Hashimoto
Colors of the West: An Artist’s Guide to Nature’s Palette

Colors of the West explores wild places through the lens of watercolor painting. Steeped in the natural world, award-winning artist Molly Hashimoto has sketched in the outdoors and worked as a plein air artist for more than 20 years. In that time she has filled more than 40 sketchbooks with landscapes, vignettes, studies of flora and fauna, and natural history notes – created while visiting some of the West’s most stunning landscapes.

This new book is organized by color, a unique approach to teaching how to really see color in the outdoor spaces around them, and then apply it to journals, art projects or simply beautiful memories. Molly explains the concept of palette — the range of colors that unites elements of geography, geology and the different kinds of light created by atmosphere, season and latitude. Molly’s own hand-drawn sketches and paintings of familiar Western landscapes help convey these colors, along with natural history information and historical notes related to the park or site she has sketched. Tips and techniques for outdoor journaling and painting are included throughout.

From the blue hues of Diablo Lake at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center to the green hues found on Cascade Head on the Oregon Coast and in Yellowstone’s quaking aspens, readers and artists of all levels will learn a new appreciation for the colors of the West—and how the details of natural beauty can be revealed when we stop, observe and pay attention to the outdoor world.

Molly Hashimoto’s paintings have been exhibited at a variety of galleries throughout the Northwest and at the Whatcom Museum of Art in Bellingham, Washington. Her work has a long association with outdoor and conservation organizations, and she has taught art classes with North Cascades Institute, Sitka Center for Art and Ecology and the Yellowstone Institute for many years. Molly lives in Seattle. www.mollyhashimoto.com

Mud Flats Cover
Wednesday, September 27, 7pm

Erin McKittrick
Mud Flats & Fish Camps: 800 Miles Around Cook Inlet

Alaska holds a mythological place in the American imagination as our wildest, coldest, largest and farthest frontier. It is also the home of writer Erin McKittrick, who lives in a yurt on the shore of Cook Inlet with her husband and two preschool-age children. Mudflats and Fish Camps chronicles McKittrick’s journey, along with her family, as they set out to hike and paddle the entire coastline of Cook Inlet, a distance of 800 miles. This is unconventional parenting in the extreme, bringing kids not just into the woods, but into quicksand, snow and the realm of grizzles! And while their story includes all the stubbornness, excitement, and sleet-in-the-eyes awefulness that comes from walking their way through the world, it also provides an intimate history of a wild and fascinating place and the people who call it home.

Erin McKittrick has walked, paddled and skied more than 8000 miles through Alaska’s trackless wilderness, including a thousand miles with her two young children. She has a master’s degree in molecular and cellular biology, writes regularly for Alaska Dispatch News and gives public presentations on her adventures and work. She lives in Seldovia, Alaska. www.groundtruthtrekking.org.

Where Bigfoot Walks Cover
Sunday, October 1, 4pm

Robert Michael Pyle
Where Bigfoot Walks: Crossing the Dark Divide

Welcoming back to Bellingham our good friend and mentor Bob Pyle with the long-awaited reissue of his classic book on Sasquatch! Updated with fresh experiences and finds, Where Bigfoot Walks is a thought-provoking and witty exploration of not only the phenomenon of Bigfoot, but also the human need to believe that something is out there beyond the light of the campfire.

Awarded a Guggenheim to investigate the legends of Sasquatch, Bob trekked into the unprotected wilderness of the Dark Divide near Mount St. Helens, where he discovered both a giant fossil footprint and recent tracks. He searched out Native Americans who told him of an outcast tribe, the Seeahtiks, who had not fully evolved into humans. He attended Sasquatch Daze, where he met scientists, hunters and others who have devoted their lives to the search, and realized that “these guys don’t want to find Bigfoot—they want to be Bigfoot!” A handful of openminded biologists and anthropologists countered the tabloids he studied, while rogue Forest Service employees and loggers swore of an industry conspiracy to deep-six accounts of unknown, upright hominoid apes among us.

Robert Michael Pyle is the author of eighteen books, including Wintergreen, Rambles in a Ravaged Land, Chasing Monarchs, The Thunder Tree: Lessons from an Urban Wildland, Sky Time in Gray’s River: Living for Keeps in a Forgotten Place and the poetry collection Evolution of the Genus Iris. He taught a butterfly field class for the Institute in our first summer of field courses and 1986 and has returned to teach in natural history and writing retreats many times over the next three decades! A Yale-trained ecologist and a Guggenheim fellow, he is a full-time writer living in southwestern Washington.

Sideways look at Clouds cover
Friday, October 6, 7pm

Maria Mudd Ruth
A Sideways Look at Clouds

When she moved to the soggy Northwest, Ruth assumed that locals would know everything there was to know about clouds, in the same way they know about salmon, tides and the Seahawks. Yet in her first two years of living in Washington she never heard anyone talk about clouds. Puzzled by this lack of cloud savvy, she decided to survey folks she knew—men and women, new friends, family on the East Coast, outdoorsy and indoorsy types, professional scientists and liberal arts majors like herself. The results showed that, while people knew a little bit about clouds, most were like her: they had a hard time identifying clouds or remembering their names; as adults, life had largely sidetracked their sky-gazing time. A captivating storyteller, Ruth blends science, wonder and humor to take the scenic route through the clouds and encourages readers to chart their own rambling, idiosyncratic course.

Maria Mudd Ruth has been researching, watching, photographing and blogging about clouds for many years. She is the author of more than a dozen books on natural history topics, including Rare Bird: Pursuing the Mystery of the Marbled Murrelet and lives in Olympia. www.mariaruthbooks.net.

Hiking Naked Cover
Sunday, October 15, 4pm

Iris Graville
Hiking Naked: A Quaker Woman's Search For Balance

Knocked off her feet after twenty years in nursing, Iris Graville quit her job and convinced her husband and thirteen-year- old twins to move to Stehekin, a remote village in Washington State’s North Cascades. They sought adventure and yearned for the solitude of this community of 85 residents accessible only by boat, floatplane, or hiking. Hiking Naked chronicles Graville’s journey through questions about work and calling as well as how she coped with buying groceries by mail, black bears outside her kitchen window, a forest fire that threatened the valley and a flood that left the family stranded for three days.

Iris Graville is the author of Hands at Work: Portraits and Profiles of People who Work with their Hands and Bounty: Lopez Island Farmers, Food, and Community. She also serves as publisher of Shark Reef Literary Magazine. Iris lives and writes on Lopez Island. www.irisgraville.com

Upstream Cover
Friday, October 20, 7pm

Langdon Cook
Upstream: Searching for Wild Salmon From River to Table

Will wild salmon still be swimming a decade from now? This is what Seattle author and journalist Langdon Cook sets out to discover, as he travels every stage of the salmon pipeline, from Alaskan spawning grounds and Columbia River hatcheries to chefs' frying pans and 4-star restaurant menus. Upstream interweaves nature, commerce, cuisine, adventure and the environmental impact on how we consume this once seemingly limitless food source.

Langdon Cook is the author of Fat of the Land: Adventures of a 21st Century Forager, which The Seattle Times called “lyrical, practical and quixotic.” Cook has been profiled on the Travel Channel, in Bon Appetit, WSJ magazine, Whole Living and Salon.com, and his writing has appeared in Sunset, Gray’s Sporting Journal and Outside.

The Great Unconformity Cover
Saturday, October 21, 7pm

Kate Troll
The Great Uncomformity: Reflections on Hope in an Imperiled World

Part adventure, part memoir, part policy – always exciting, The Great Unconformity takes you on a fun, fast-paced tour of environmental, political and spiritual issues surrounding sustainability and climate change. Kate Troll, sometimes called “the Naomi Klein of Alaska,” fills her colorful stories with humor, wisdom and hope for a brighter future. With an eye toward the millennial generation, Troll wraps her stories with the wisdom of recognized global thinkers. Troll is an important new voice to the now-or-never discussion on sustainability and climate change. Combining her Alaskan experience with her international work, Troll shows in her book that there is indeed hope – worldwide climate change can be tackled.

Kate Troll, a long-time Alaskan, has more than 22 years’ experience in climate and energy policy, coastal management, and fisheries. She’s been elected to public office twice and is currently a regular columnist for the Alaska Dispatch News. In between, she climbs mountains, kayaks with the whales, runs wild rivers and writes screenplays.

Razor Clams Cover
Wednesday, October 25, 7pm

David Berger
Razor Clams: Buried Treasure of the Pacific Northwest

In this lively history and celebration of the Pacific razor clam, David Berger shares with us his love affair with the glossy, gold-colored Siliqua patula and gets into the nitty-gritty of how to dig, clean and cook them using his favorite recipes. In the course of his investigation, Berger brings to light the long history of razor clamming as a subsistence, commercial and recreational activity, and shows the ways it has helped shape both the identity and the psyche of the Pacific Northwest.

Towing his wife along to the Long Beach razor clam festival, Berger quizzes local experts on the pressing question: tube or gun? He illuminates the science behind the perplexing rules and restrictions that seek to keep the razor clam population healthy and the biomechanics that make these delicious bivalves so challenging to catch. And he joyfully takes part in the sometimes freezing cold pursuit that nonetheless attracts tens of thousands of participants each year for an iconic "beach-to-table" experience.

David Berger has been a contributor to the food feature "Northwest Taste" in Pacific Magazine and is former art critic for The Seattle Times. He is a recipient of a Metcalf Fellowship for Marine and Environmental Reporting.

Harvest Dinner 2017: “A Life in Mountain Rescue”

October 21-22, 2017 at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center

Celebrate the arrival of autumn with a special harvest dinner in our lakeside dining hall on Diablo Lake, a fascinating presentation on mountain rescues in the Cascades and comfortable overnight accommodations in the heart of North Cascades National Park!

Join North Cascades Institute for a special feast featuring the bounty of the local harvest. Our chef will prepare a dinner showcasing the flavors of our regional foodshed, with an emphasis on local growers and producers in Skagit and Whatcom counties. Our bar will serve local microbrews and wine to compliment the palette of autumnal flavors.

Register Now

After dinner, we'll enjoy an intimate evening presentation on “A Life in Mountain Rescue” with Seatttle-area author Bree Loewen. Bree Loewen’s to-do list isn’t quite the same as most people’s. On any given day, it might include:

  • Go grocery shopping

  • Bake pie seen on Pinterest
  • Figure out what to do with my life

  • Rescue climbers caught in avalanche on Chair Peak

  • Pick up Vivi at Mom’s 


Harvest Dinner 2017: A Life in Mountain Rescue

Bree Loewen has been a climbing ranger on Mount Rainier, an EMT in Seattle and a contributor to Climbing and Alpinist magazines. As a current volunteer with Seattle Mountain Rescue, Loewen has been on more than 100 rescues in the past three years — and countless more over her career. Locals will recognize many of the Cascadian locations where her dramatic stories take place: Snoqualmie Falls, Little Si, Chair Peak near Alpental, Rattlesnake Ledge and others.

Bree and her fellow volunteers provide critically important help, reaching stranded individuals when mountain conditions are too difficult for helicopter access, and collecting data for the medical examiner when it’s too late for a rescue.

Bree is the author of the acclaimed mountain memoir Pickets and Dead Men, which Adventure Journal calls “A deeply drawn memoir . . . and an achingly true picture of the raw grace we find in the outdoors.” In her new book Found, she shares the drama and the camaraderie of this work, as well as the challenges of trying to fit her other roles as wife and mother into what is still largely a masculine environment. In a fearless voice — disarming yet laced with humor — Bree guides us through intense recoveries, vivid wilderness landscapes and the grounding she discovers in motherhood, community and finding her purpose.

Praise for Found:

“Bree Loewen is in a class by herself. Found is not only her masterful tale of mountain rescue, it also clearly articulates a hero’s journey filled with existential angst, internal conflicts, and ultimately, balance.” —Brent Bishop, climber and SMR team member

“In Found, Bree Loewen brings readers along with her in a constant race against death, while illuminating the people and work of mountain rescue—as well as her own challenges to juggle family demands and discern her life calling. A great read for anyone who enjoys the adventure, peril, and responsibility that goes with life in wild places.” —Shannon Huffman Polson, author of North of Hope: A Daughter’s Arctic Journey.

Click here to register, email or call (360) 854-2599.

Your registration includes the Harvest Dinner, Bree Loewen presentation, overnight accommodations in our guest lodges and breakfast the next morning. Commuter option featuring dinner and presentation is available for $50. The Harvest Dinner sells out every year, so don't delay!