EMSK Baker Lake (Jul 18-20, 2014)

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baker_river_trail_coverConditions: day hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS Mount Shuksan
Area: Bellingham
Reference: Day Hiking North Cascades
Stats: 5.08mi, 200' gain (round trip)

Yana emailed me Monday...are you doing the Baker River thing this weekend. Well I hadn't really thought about it. But, I quickly decided it looked like a good ideas. Lots of roads and trails closed due to the wildfires. Weather wasn't looking that great either...rain in the forecast for the weekend. Well I thought...sure! Sounds like a great idea. What better place to be on a wet weekend than on the water. So first, an email off to Ginger...any chance there is a spot available (meaning that someone would share) in the campground. She worked it behind the scenes and the Freeburgs said yes. Then, I had to arrange for the kayak rental. A call down to Kayak Academy and that was all set.

This was a long weekend again for me. Friday was a non-work Friday and Monday...a first of 5 furlough days for me that need to be taken before the end of November. So the plan was to meet up late morning at the campground and then four of us (Yana, Kirsten, Greg, me) would do an easy hike and then join up with the rest of the EMSK group later in the day at the campground.

Yana had first looked at Dock Butte as a hike. Would have been nice since it's an old lookout sight but...can't get to the trailhead...snow. So...the plan changed. We'd hike up the Baker River trail to where the trail ends, Sulphide Creek.

We took off down the trail not so early. It's a short hike after all. A quick look at the bridge over the river and the views and then we continued up the trail. Some flowers out. My happy face came out with a find of some indian pipe (saprophytes). I've been looking for these for years since first seeing them nearly 15 some years ago. Finally...another sighting!

We hiked up to the Sulphide Creek campground. Then stopped to do some poking around. Then a slow able back to the trailhead. The plan was to meet up with the rest of the EMSK group in the Horseshoe Cover Campground early that evening.
Baker River Trail Slideshow

baker_lake_coverConditions: day paddles
Gear: gear for a day paddle
Map: n/a
Area: Bellingham
Reference: n/a
Stats: 9.9nm (a guess) total for both days

Since we were all staying in the campground the night before (Friday evening) there was no need for a super early start. It had rained heavy overnight, as expected, and I wasn't anxious to get going. I'd decided to put the foam mattress into the back of the Jetta and car camp...literally. The idea of packing up soaking wet gear at the end of the weekend wasn't appealing.

About 7am I finally reached my antsy point. Tired of the joint aches from too much time sleeping. I got up, heated up some water for breakfast and then took a walk around the campground. Others were starting to rouse. I returned my campsite and Tom and Patricia were also up. They had arrived late the night before and had planned to join the group for a paddle but after the rainfall overnight decided to return home. It had been a pretty rainy night.

About 9am I drove the Jetta over to the boat launch. The EMSK group was starting to get ready. I got some help to unload my boat. Then back at the car time to put the dry suit on and get ready. Sometime around 10am the group was finally ready and we started to paddle away from the launch. Low misty clouds, a grey sky, and rain greeted us as we first paddled across the lake then then headed north along the eastern shore of the lake. The water level was really high. The lower boughs of the cedar trees were dipping into the water's edge. The lake though a bit choppy but the near turquoise color was nice.

I learned a lesson on this trip. I should have sat in my boat rental before leaving Kayak Academy. My boat was too small. Though I could get into it. My feet, legs, and knees were wedged in tight. My legs were going numb. I managed to get one foot of the foot peg but then couldn't get it back on. Rats. One group was going to head further north along the lake to Swift Creek. Considering how uncomfortable I was, I decided to head back with the group that was planning a shorter paddle. We went north a bit, then turn and headed back south taking a slow paddle back to the campground.

Back at camp that evening the rain had let up a bit. Tarps were hung to help keep the potluck area sheltered. Thankfully, by early evening most of the rain had stopped. It actually started to clear as the evening went on. Lots of good food, meeting new people and making new friends, then a late conversation around a warm campfire...it was just what I needed. I finally retired to my bed in the back of the car around 11pm.

Sunday morning it was another somewhat lazy start. Again, about 7am, I was sore. Time to get up. I wandered around the campground for a while. A quick walk down to the boat ramp...a blue sucker hold developing.

I wasn't sure Saturday if I was going to paddle again on Sunday. My rental just was too small. Kirsten made a kind offer to try her Seward Tyee boat out. The boat was a lot more comfortable so I was game for another paddle on Sunday. The water was near smooth as glass. White clouds actually broke up the blue sky trying to make an appearance. Sunday's group was much smaller, only 8 of us. We paddled across the lake and then headed south, towards the dam poking the boats into all the little coves along the eastern edge of the lake. John let me try out a couple of his paddles (thanks!). Just before the dam we cut back over to the western side of the lake and then headed back north to the campground. A bit of time helping to load boats, pack away wet gear, then...it was time to head home.

Lots of driving today...the 2 hour drive back from Baker Lake, then home to drop off my gear, then down to Issaquah to drop of the rental, then back home. Wet gear hanging up in the garage everywhere. What wasn't wet smelled like wet smoke. There would be lots of cleaning up and laundry to do on Monday....
Baker Lake Slideshow


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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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