Saturday, April 19, 2014

East Bank Baker Lake

It's rewarding when you throw something together spontaneously and it turns out to be even better than you thought it could. That's what this hike along the east side of Baker Lake turned out to be.

Three days before our hike, I ran into Sharon at a Microsoft cafeteria, and she mentioned that she wanted to get out on the trail and exercise her recovering foot from a serious break over the winter. She had East Bank Baker Lake in mind, and we decided that we do the hike and then find a spot to car camp.

Well, thanks to facebook, we had a group of six lined up within a day, and we all converged at the parking lot by 12:30PM (sorry we were late, Jimbo), and laid claim to one of the excellent campsites right off the parking lot and next to the now-dry Baker River. We pitched a tent to claim the spot, then headed out on the trail.

It didn't take long for me to really like this hike. Because it's under 1,000ft above sea level, the hike was full of moss-laden old growth trees. I could spend all day trying to capture their beauty in a photo and I took a lot of shots trying, though only a few came close to conveying what it's like to be surrounded by all that greenery.

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So I would stop and let the group go ahead, snap a few shots, and then run to catch up.

The ants go marching....

This was a big hike for nearly 4-month old Rowan, and he hiked most of the way. Here's a shot of Lynn giving him a break on the way out,

Hey Rowan!

And here's Paul and the three dogs on the way back.Hitching a ride

We decided to take a break at the Noisy Creek campsite, which was recently upgraded with picnic tables, bear-proof food storage, and fire pits. We found a nice spot on the beach and chowed down. Here's a shot of Jim enjoying a great view of Baker.

Jim blissin'

And Sharon soaking/cooling her foot in front of Mt. Shuksan to our north. We all were very pleased that her foot felt great, and in fact, was less painful on the hike than it was on our drive up there.

Sharon soaking up the sun and cooling her foot

Some cool little mushrooms finding their way...

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As much as I like to backpack myself away from other groups, I really enjoyed the convenience and relative luxury of car camping. There were some groups within a hundred yards of us, but we really felt like we had the place to ourselves. At one point, a neighboring camper came by and pointed out that there were some mountain goats grazing on the steep slope across the river to the east.

As the evening went on, we enjoyed wine, beer, and other upgraded adult beverages, feeding the fire from our bundles of wood.

The joys of car camping

Most of us got a decent night's sleep, but Paul and Lynn woke up early and headed out before the rest of us stirred. We had a leisurely morning, Sharon cooked us breakfast and left by about noon.

This is a great hike, especially for new backpackers, as the trail is relatively flat and the campsites on the east side of the lake are really nice. But don't plan to be alone over there, especially on the weekend during the summer, as I'm sure the sites fill up fast. Best to take a couple of days during the week to get some solitude and enjoy this beautiful place.

Another option is to kayak from the west side of the lake, filling your kayaks with gear or towing a small barge boat with your provisions, especially firewood for your campfire, as most of the available wood has been scavenged.