Getting Wild with the US Forest Service

Every North Cascades Wild trip is special, from the deep bonds formed in new communities of friends to the service projects to students’ self-discovery and leadership development to views of glacier-capped mountains seen from sweatily climbed mountain peaks to learning how to canoe to the close connections students feel to public lands by the end of their adventure.
But North Cascades Wild Trip 3 was something completely new and different. After completing twenty successful North Cascades Wild trips in the Ross Lake area of North Cascades National Park, Trip 3 ventured out July 19th through 30th for twelve days of canoe camping, backpacking and service projects in a new location for us in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
What was so special about our North Cascades Wild trip on Baker Lake and in the Mount Baker NRA? Here are some of our favorite moments:

For one, the unforgettable views of towering Mount Baker rising above the magical green waters of Baker Lake. AmAAAzing!

Watching the sunset casting misty blue shadows over the mountain while gathering on the dock for evening meetings at Maple Grove camp.

Working with our new Forest Service friends who supported us with satisfying service projects building tent pads, picnic tables and placing fire rings at Maple Grove, Lower Sandy and Noisy Creek camps.

Watching students master canoeing on the glacier-kissed turquoise waters of Baker Lake.

The laughter and learning that took place when North Cascades Wild students led 20 curious Kulshan Creek neighborhood students from Mount Vernon in service projects at Lower Sandy camp.

Watching a group of teenagers who started out as strangers come together to form an amazingly tight family by day 12.

Seeing each student develop their leadership skills as Leader-of-the-Day.

Laughing hysterically while playing “Bobby Go Peep” and other team building games with our Forest Service friends. Especially Martine’s amazing MOOSE song that we will never ever get tired of!
Our backpacking adventures in the Mount Baker National Recreation Area complete with slippery snow hiking, snowball fights, chilly nights, climbs to Park Butte lookout and adventures up Railroad Grade.

Learning about mountain goats and how to get jobs in the Forest Service from biologist Don Gay who joined us for part of our backpacking trip.

All of the wonderful support we received from the Forest Service, from the service projects to the ice cream and watermelon to all of our stellar visitors who taught us so much!

North Cascades Wild seeks to connect students to public lands through service work, leadership development, community building and sense of place, thus inspiring participants to become citizen stewards of the environment and their home communities.
Together with the Forest Service, North Cascades Wild Trip 3 built four tent pads, placed three fire rings, constructed three picnic tables, deconstructed two dilapidated tables (one built by the CCC in the 1930’s!), planted twenty native plants, canoed almost fifteen miles, backpacked and hiked nearly twenty miles, taught and led twenty Kulshan Creek neighborhood students in service projects and changed seven high school participants’ lives for the better. We laughed harder than we have in a long time, got sweatier and dirtier than we ever thought possible, enjoyed incredible “eye candy” views for twelve days and gained memories that will stay with us forever.
One student from Mount Vernon said it all when she stated, “At first I didn’t care as much. But now seeing how beautiful it is out here and seeing how some people treat it makes me want to help protect it.” Another student from Deming remarked, “I learned that I am a stewardship person.”
We would like to extend our warmest gratitude to the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest for their support in helping make this program successful. Thank you – we can’t wait to do it all again!


  1. Kelsi

    What a wonderful first trip in the National Forest! So excited about the opportunities there as well!

  2. vida morkunas

    I love the enthusiasm and joy in this post! Well done team !!

  3. anita sena-johnson

    Oh My Goodness! It is such a thrill to see my students – some who I know to be so shy and reticent – some who have only been in this country so few years – sometimes even months – take this adventure to challenge themselves -thank you sooooo much for all you do, Northwest Wild staff to help these young people become all they can be! It has been such a great personal and professional relationship and experience to have the honor to work with you! Stay well! Anita Sena-Johnson – Shorecrest High School

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