Cascade Pass & EMSK Baker Lake (Jul 17-19, 2015)

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cascade_pass_coverConditions: day hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS Cascade Pass
Area: Marblemount/Cascade River Road
Reference: Day Hiking North Cascades
Stats: 6.02mi, 1719' gain (round trip)

The summer of 2015 has been a really warm summer. OK not warm...just downright hot. For me it just isn't much fun hiking when it's in the 90's. But this weekend...a bit of an exception. This is the weekend of the annual EMSK Baker Lake weekend. Last year a couple of us did a hike up the Baker River Trail. This year the plan was to take a slow hike up to Cascade Pass. I love this area and thought that I'd be fine as long as we took it slow. I don't do well in hot weather.

We left town around 7am and started the drive north. By the time we met up in Marblemount, consolidated into one car and then drove up Cascade River Rd...it was about 10:30am by the time we got to the trailhead. It was already pretty warm.

The trail starts out in the trees but eventually the views over to Johannesburg opened up. Even for mid July it did seem like there was very little snow left on the mountain. We continued up the trail and the hillside just before the pass which usually retains snow late into the season...was bare. What was left of the snow was a small patch way down off the hillside and out of the way. We got to the pass which of course was crowded and it too was bare of snow. The last time I was up to the area was late August 2011 and there was lingering snow left that year. This year...it was pretty obvious we're in a drought. Even scarier...the late summer/early fall flowers like gentians were already blooming. Yikes!
 
Cascade Pass Slideshow

cascade_pass_map
 
baker_lake_coverConditions: day paddles
Gear: gear for a day paddle
Map: n/a
Area: Bellingham
Reference: n/a
Stats: 12.12nm total for both days

Saturday morning we were up, scratch-scratch, a leisurely breakfast, scratch-scratch, and then headed over to the boat launch, scratch-scratch. I got pretty bit up last night by the mosquitoes. A big change from last year when it was wet, rainy, cool, and free of bugs. This year...hot and kind of buggy. Everyone geared up which was easy because it was just too darned warm to put the dry suits on. Then we started paddling north and around the small point just north of Horseshoe Cove CG and then it was time to line up the boats by color. Baker was free and clear in the background. Stunning...

After a couple of photos we continued north to Swift Creek. A couple headed up the creek to take a look. It was obviously running pretty low. Most of us got out of the boats and had a nice lunch of the gravel bars, a few took to swimming in the warm water. After lunch a paddle back to the CG and after a bit of a lazy late afternoon there was a nice potluck. The food was pretty incredible.

Sunday morning a few of us were up again but paddled south towards the dam. We stayed to the far east shore exploring all the coves/inlets. Before reaching the dam we had all agreed that it was too hot to head to the west side to paddle back because it was in full sun. Instead we stayed on the east side staying in the shade until we were close enough to shoot across the narrowest part of the lake back to the gravel boat launch.
 
Baker Lake Slideshow

baker_lake_map

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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