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  • Writer's pictureClaire Baldwin

Journaling in the North Cascades

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

From the archive: journal posts from a summer working in one of the most remote locations in the lower 48.

In 2015, I spent in six months working in Stehekin, a tiny community in the lower North Cascades National Park. It's one of the most remote locations in the lower 48, with no cell service and no roads in. You can only access it by boat, plane, or backpacking.

If I wanted to access the internet, there was an ancient, communal computer for the staff, with a screen that tinted dark orange on sweltering afternoons when the sun pointed into the windows of the non-air conditioned office. The ancient PC audibly chugged as it attempted to load gmail.

Needless to say, I had plenty of time to daydream and journal.

One of my favorite places to go and draw was the Buckner Orchard.

Owned and maintained by the Park service, the 100 year-old apple orchard is a historic site with the original buildings still intact; worn by a century of seasons, wood silver from the sun, held together with vines and wire.

Months before arriving in Stehekin, I had imagined a story idea about sisters who live on an apple orchard above a magic crystal grotto. When I happened upon a historic orchard surrounded by mountains, it seemed like fate.

So I started writing. I wrote about 50 pages, with various elements including witches, lost maps, black market smugglers, circus monkeys, a tattooed lady, asteroids, epic battles, and unrequited love.

It didn't make much sense.

So constantly surrounded by beauty, I couldn’t not draw. Everything was inspiration to me: a patch of moss, or the way my boss said “squarsh” instead of squash. An apple all flecked with rain, or tangled drifts of wildflowers lining the trails.

Here’s to a summer filled with drawing in gorgeous places, without any connection to the outside world, and to all the wonderful things that did for my imagination.

To read more travel diaries and see excerpts from journals, check out my Patreon and choose your rewards!

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