Learning how to make a map, in the gorgeous N. Cascades

I love maps. I don’t know many outdoor lovers who don’t.

A map is all about possibilities. Staring at one, the options feel endless — so many chances for exploration and adventure.

I recently went up to the North Cascades Institute to spend a long weekend exploring the idea of maps, specifically how to create your own arty map.

The North Cascades Institute is kind of like summer camp for adults. They do tons of other stuff, too, including great education programs for all ages. The weekend we were there, a group of high school students was heading out for a youth leadership adventure.

I’m no artist, but I’ve always been a huge fan of maps that incorporate artistic elements. The teacher, Jocelyn Curry, is a master. She’s a talented artist and a very detail-oriented map maker.

Students in the class had a wide range of backgrounds, from those with basically no art experience (me included) to those who are professional artists or teachers.

She taught us the basic elements of maps and showed tricks to help those with fewer art skills.

We came with a huge variety of maps. I illustrated the Wonderland Trail, the loop around Mount Rainier. I hiked the trail, plus the Northern Loop, over two summers with my husband. It’s an extremely important place to me.

My friend, Cole Adams, illustrated Suntop Lookout near Rainier. Cole is a fabulously artistic lady and her map is an explosion of gorgeous colors. (Additionally, she jumped in the lake with me, so she was an all-around good person to bring along.)

Others in the class made maps of Yellowstone, a natural area near a school and an area of the Rocky Mountain Front where many dinosaur skeletons have been found. One student made a personal map, one of my favorite of the whole weekend. The compass rose showed the directions she wanted to go in her life and included an anatomical heart at the center.

The same weekend, Molly Hashimoto was teaching a class on watercolor. I loved seeing what her students were doing.

When I wasn’t in class, I explored the woods nearby, went for a few trail runs, jumped in the lake, saw a fawn and, best of all, got to see a pair of baby hummingbirds in a nest.

Samantha, one of the staff at the center, showed them to us. She told a great story of how she had found the nest.

It was an old nest; it had been in use in prior years but not recently. So, earlier this year she took a group to have a look at it. They wandered up, she let them have a look, but didn’t get too close herself. Later, as the group was leaving, one of the people excitedly thanked her again, saying “I’d never seen hummingbird eggs before!”

“Wait? What?” Samantha asked.

Turns out the nest was in use. Since then, they’ve been careful to let mama hummingbird have her space, but do check in on her occasionally from a respectful distance. The babies are getting big now. They look like they’ll be ready to fly before too long.

Maybe the next time I visit, I’ll see them buzzing around campus.

If you go

If you’re interested in the North Cascades Institute, you can check them out here. If you’d like to just visit, but not take a formal class, they have a cool base camp program. I wrote about it here. (Whatever you do, be prepared for the food. It’s fabulous, fresh and local.)

More in Life

Heavy Hollywood headlines: Robert Horton’s movies preview

In the midst of all the sexual-misconduct allegations, the holiday film season offers some relief.

Celebrate Native American Heritage Month with reads, listens

Pay tribute to the contributions of indigenous people to national history and culture.

New York tabs share ‘I’m With Perv’ headlines on Trump

Both are reporting on the president’s backing of accused Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Where the wild things are in Snohomish

Step into the studio of Imps and Monsters creator Justin Hillgrove for a Black Friday sale.

Meet Nellie, Thor, Raven, Lola, Jasper, Gunner and Bella

These six dogs are waiting for loving homes.

Did you know? Bats edition

Worthwhile Everett library reading and viewing about bats of the animal, sport and hero varieties.

Sister is the victim of financial abuse

By Carolyn Hax / The Washington Post Dear Carolyn: My sister stays… Continue reading

Grandma’s fed up with kids’ disrespect for Thanksgiving traditions

By Tom and Dee Hardie with Key Kidder Dear Grandparenting: This is… Continue reading

Today in History: Nov. 22

Today is Wednesday, Nov. 22, the 326th day of 2017. There are… Continue reading

Most Read