Off the Road
With everyone everywhere seeming to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Jack Kerouac's On the Road, I thought it fitting to highlight this article ("Rolling Towards the Moon") from the Sierra archives, about the summer Kerouac spent working as a fire spotter in Washington's North Cascades. The year was 1956, just prior to his spectacular rise to fame and subsequent descent into alcoholism. The solitary experience provided much of the material for two subsequent autobiographical novels, Desolation Angels and The Dharma Bums. The lookout ("a funny little peaked almost Chinese cabin" is how Kerouac described it) is still there atop Desolation Peak. You reach it via a steep, dry 7-mile hike (one-way) from Ross Lake in what is now North Cascades National Park. To see more photos, click the image above, by Pete Hoffman.