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David R. Brower - Wilderness Alps of Stehekin
Preservation of this film was made possible by a grant from The Mountaineers Foundation with cooperation from Patrick Goldsworthy of the North Cascades Conservation Council. (For an inventory of NCCC's collection of 16mm film prints, click here.) The film is 31 minutes long in color with sound. Photographed by David Brower, Nathan Clark, Charles Hessey and John Handley. Edited and narrated by David Brower. Organ music composed and played by Clair Leonard by special arrangement with Charles Eggert. (I believe this film was shot during the summer of 1957. It was released either late in that year or in 1958.)

The film opens (and closes) with scenes of the Pacific coast. The narrator describes places in America that have been set aside in their natural state for future generations, including Mt Rainier, the Olympic rain forest, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon. Then he describes the North Cascades above the head of Lake Chelan. There are spectacular aerial scenes of Dome Peak, Boston Glacier and Cascade Pass. The narrator calls the North Cascades "a crown jewel of American scenic grandeur" and "unsurpassed anywhere in the United States." He describes the encroachment of clear-cuts up the valleys and shows the abandoned mining town of Holden and its slag heaps.

To obtain a more intimate appreciation of the North Cascades, Brower and his sons Ken and Bob take the Lady of the Lake from Chelan to Stehekin. The Stehekin road "starts at a handsome lake shore and deadends in Paradise." They drive a jeep to High Bridge camp, where they meet Chuck and Marion Hessey, "experienced Washington mountaineers," who show them some of the country they have visited on foot and by ski throughout the North Cascades. This segment includes fine movie footage taken by the Hesseys in both summer and winter.

Brower and his sons hike to Rainbow Falls and Coon Lake and sightsee along the Agnes Creek trail. They hike to Horseshoe Basin another day and to Cascade Pass in the rain. From Stehekin they join Grant McConnell and his daughter Ann with packer Ray Courtney to travel by horseback to Park Creek. They set up camp below the pass, explore meadows and tarns in the area, and hike to the snow-filled pass. They ride horses past Doubtful Creek to Cascade Pass, where they meet a friend who left New York City just the previous day. Later, they hike with a Sierra Club group up the Sauk River to White Pass, where they explore meadows and the Whitechuck Glacier and see fine views of Glacier Peak.

The film ends with the hope that these mountains will remain wilderness. Brower observes that this area is "only as safe as people, knowing about it, want it to be."

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Last Updated: Wed Nov 10 09:34:21 PST 2004