Forum Index > Trip Reports > Around Baker Lake - April 4 2019
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jdk610
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PostSat Apr 06, 2019 6:38 am 
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Yesterday I completed a human-powered circumnavigation of Baker Lake, which is just a fancy way of saying I ran down the east side of the lake and then biked back to my car along the west side. It was a fun way to avoid an out-and-back on a trail that I already know pretty well. The entire trail and the road were both snow-free, as were all the backcountry campsites! (Nothing like a snowy winter to make you supremely grateful for snow-free lowlands in the spring!)

Bike stash:
I started my day by driving to the north trailhead and stashing my bike behind a large mound of dirt/vegetation on the side of the road, approx 1/4 mile before the trailhead. The entire road is lined with dense forest = lots of great places to hide a bike! I locked mine to a small tree, removed all scented items (to discourage critters), and nobody bothered it. After stashing my bike, I drove to the southern trailhead, parked my car, and started up the East Bank Baker Lake trail.


Mt Baker in the morning

Trail Conditions:
The trail along the east side of the lake is single-track, and described well on the WTA website. If you start from the south, the first 10 miles are in pretty good shape, especially for this time of year - just a few blow-downs and one washout at 5.5 miles that will probably require a lot of effort to fix, but is still passable right now.

Washout at 5.5 miles

The last 5 miles have more blowdowns, including some BIG trees down across the trail at 10.5 miles. As with the washout, the big trees are passable, but removing them will probably require some effort by a trail crew, just due to the size of the trees and the way they are lying.

Big trees down across the trail at 10.5 miles

It's a really lovely time of year to be out on this trail: there is plenty of water coming down from side creeks, but you can still keep feet dry on all crossings. There are also nice mountain views because the trees haven't filled out yet - including some great views of Mt Blum. I even got to hear a loon wailing, which is one of my favorite sounds in the world (a bit like a wolf howling).

Mt Blum from the trail

Koma Kulshan from the trail


Baker River
Road conditions:
I started my ride at around 2 pm. If you are riding from north to south, the first 6 miles are on a bumpy gravel road, riddled with potholes. I rode my gravel bike (Specialized Diverge) and was glad for the extra traction, 700 x 38c tubeless tires, and future shock. Could you ride this section on a road bike? Yes, if you are careful and steer around some of the messier spots. But a gravel bike is definitely the preferred choice for this ride.
After riding south for six miles, you hit pavement, which is in relatively good condition. Although there is no established shoulder, on a sunny weekday afternoon traffic was light enough that it wasn't an issue. I rode in the middle of the road most of the time. When I heard/saw a car I moved right, and they were able to pass me with plenty of room. I was pleasantly surprised with the bike portion of the route. Before I did it, I was just thinking of the bike as a means to an end. I had driven this road several times before and didn't remember it as particularly scenic. But there are some great views, especially if you stop at the pullouts, and lots of trees and swamps that I never noticed from my car. That's why we ride bikes, right?!


Another view of Kulshan from the road


Roadside views


More roadside views!
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Nancyann
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PostSat Apr 06, 2019 10:03 pm 
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Thanks for the conditions report, Jessica. How nice to hear a loon on the lake, that is one of my most favorite sounds as well. Lovely photos!
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rstoddard24
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PostSat Apr 06, 2019 11:32 pm 
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Nice! Looks beautiful. I always forget about the baker lake trail - seems like a great option for low elevation running
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Brushbuffalo
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PostTue Apr 09, 2019 10:31 am 
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Excellent TR, Jessica.
jdk610 wrote:
some great views, especially if you stop at the pullouts, and lots of trees and swamps that I never noticed from my car. That's why we ride bikes, right?!

Very well stated.

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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Eric Hansen
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PostMon Apr 15, 2019 6:45 pm 
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Thanks! That third from last photo (looking up at Mt. Baker) looks like Boulder Cr.

Loon calls?  This one minute vid is great audio of a loon calling (Minnesota)

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Brushbuffalo
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PostMon Apr 15, 2019 7:44 pm 
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Eric Hansen wrote:
That third from last photo (looking up at Mt. Baker) looks like Boulder Cr.

It is indeed. I always stop to admire Mt. Baker from that spectacular vantage point.
Boulder Creek includes drainage directly from the eastern end of Sherman Crater. Why is this significant? Because this drainage is the most probable site of any future flow events from Sherman Crater,  which is presently the area of almost all geothermal activity on Mt.  Baker.

In 1975 and through '76, when Mt. Baker greatly increased its geothermal vent activity, the Boulder Creek campground ( just downstream and to the left of the bridge  from the view where Jessica took the picture in reference) was closed by the USFS because of what was thought by the USGS to be a significant threat from lahars or other flow events issuing from Sherman Crater and traveling down Boulder Creek.

Many people thought the idea was preposterous, but that campground is actually situated on deposits from previous flow events from Sherman Crater.

One thing is for sure. We know TONS more about  the Baker Volcanic System now  than anyone did in 1975.

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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jdk610
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PostMon Apr 15, 2019 7:52 pm 
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Thanks all, glad you enjoyed the report.
Brushbuffalo, thanks for the interesting facts about the area - I had no idea. Maybe I wouldn't have lingered quite as long at that particular lookout. smile.gif
Eric Hansen, my absolute favorite is a loon wail (a specific type of call). The first time I heard one was camping on Ross Lake. Sounded almost like a wolf! At least my dog definitely thought so.
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Eric Hansen
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PostTue Apr 16, 2019 9:57 am 
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Yes, + 1 for wails. This page, with audio samples of the different loon calls, offers a quick sample of loonspeak. And they describe the wail as "like a wolf's howl"

https://www.loon.org/voice-loon.php

I'm in Wisconsin and our loons typically arrive immediately after ice out on our lakes

Boulder Creek? That bridge is a nice viewpoint, and not a whole lot of traffic.
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Foist
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PostTue Apr 16, 2019 1:15 pm 
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I also recognized the Boulder Creek view.  We have stayed at that campground the last 2 years and have a reservation to go back this year.  A couple of the campsites are absolutely spectacular.
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Around Baker Lake - April 4 2019
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