LAND is finite and fragile; once it's capped by pavement or smothered with buildings, it will not answer to the laws of nature. The no-growth movement gained strength with people who said there was nothing wrong with big trees and steep hills and small buildings. They challenged the long-held assumption that the West was a blank slate that would only reach a semblance of civilization when it started to resemble the East, or Europe.
NEARLY twice the size of Yellowstone National Park, the North Cascades lie within an hour's drive of four million people. Yet, while the rest of the range, stretching through Oregon and into California, is overrun with visitors, the year-round cannon fire of the north keeps people away from the high country here. Within sight of Seattle and Vancouver are flanks of the earth that have yet to feel a human footprint.
CITIES are transient, reflecting the tastes of time; but the spirit of a place is much harder to recast. Try as they did, humans have not been entirely able to shake Seattle from its inclination to be wild: blackberry brambles spring from cracks in cement covering the sawed-off hills, and a few eagles still nest in the snags of Seward Park, a shank of old-growth trees ten minutes from the skyscrapers of downtown.