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Local writer to present Whatcom County trail poetry



Photo Courtesy of James Papp
Photo Courtesy of James Papp

For Bellingham writer, photographer and hiker James K. Papp, misbehaving resulted in being sent outside, spurring a magnetic and lifelong connection between him and nature.


Through prose, photos and poetry, Papp will share his experiences of appreciating the outdoors at his event titled A Pilgrim who Thanks the Earth, on Jan. 30 at the Lucia Douglas Gallery in Fairhaven.

Decades ago, Papp moved from Seattle to Bellingham hoping to live a quieter life.

“My wife loves the water and I love the mountains and we have it all right there, so close,” Papp said. “It’s so beautiful and it’s just easy to be with the trees and with the rocks and with the sky more quickly than being in a bigger city.”

His connection with trees stems from a tree that he would climb with his siblings when he was a child, Papp said. Some of Papp’s pieces focus on his passion for trees.

“There’s just something that I’ve always felt with trees,” Papp said. “This sort of kinship or brotherhood or sisterhood that I just always related to and wanted to be near them.”


Papp has taken on many Whatcom County trails as well as sections of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, which stretches from Canada to Mexico.  

“I tend to muse about things when I’m in the wilderness, whether it’s on a day hike or a backpacking trip, I always have my journal with me,” Papp said. Treesthattalk

Joni Papp, his sister, acts as both a hiking partner and assistant in connecting him with galleries he can present at. Growing up in Alaska has translated through Papp’s work, she said.

“He has that sense of a relative, a familiar, an ancestor, a link,” Joni Papp said. “The work shows that we’re beings and we’re not that separate. We have more in common than we have apart from each other. The show is to support that idea in a generous way of photos and stories.”

Bellingham offers a wide variety of trails, especially up Mount Baker Highway, Papp said. The Chuckanut Mountains on the south side of Bellingham and the trails at Whatcom Falls Park are close and offer a gentle and easy path to hikers, Papp said.


Those hoping to take advantage of the trails just need to make the time to do so, Papp said.


“Just a single day or half a day,” Papp said. “Pick a place close by that’s not intimidating, because sometimes it can be really intimidating if someone says ‘We’re going to go hike this ten mile trail’ or ‘We’re going to go up three thousand feet’ and it’s like, ‘Gosh, I don’t know if I can handle that what about my shoes or boots?’”


Papp’s experiences in the Whatcom wilderness among many other trails, will be shared at his event titled The Pilgrim who Thanks the Earth on Jan. 30 at the Lucia Douglas Gallery at 5 p.m. Papp will read his prose at 6:30 p.m. and show his photography throughout the night.





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