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Roy Jensen
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PostSun May 03, 2020 7:57 pm 
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My brother and I celebrated International Workers Day by playing hooky from work and exploring the route to Shuksan Lake Trail (FS#608).  The route follows old FS Road #1160.  The road was built in the early 1960s and abandoned between 2006 and 2009.  Our goal was to scope out the route for an overnight trip to Shuksan Lake later in the summer.  We expected to snow level to be above elevation 2,500 feet so we had some hope of making it to the end of the road, which is located at elevation 2,900 feet.

Route
Route

We drove the Baker Lake Road, but we were stopped short of the start of the route by a law enforcement action.  Apparently, a car has taken a ride down the hill below the road.   Rather than wait for vehicle retrieval to be completed, we parked the car and decided to walk the road.  We slipped the police blockade and walked a short 0.5 mile to the start of our route.

Start of route off Baker Lake Rd.
Start of route off Baker Lake Rd.
Beginnings
Beginnings

The start of the old road (FS #1160) has been blocked and is overgrown (elevation 900 feet).   There is small parking area for about 2 to 3 vehicles at the start.  Shortly after the start you cross two channels of Shannon Creek.   We found no logs or rocks to safely cross either channels without getting wet.  Unprepared for wading the streams, we reluctantly took off our socks put our boots back on and got wet.   The water was less than knee depth and not as cold as expected.  We found a safe line to wade across both channels.

Crossing channel 1
Crossing channel 1
between channels
between channels
safely across channel 2
safely across channel 2

The route to the trailhead is on a gently climbing well-defined logging road.  The conditions road varies from smooth to very overgrown with a combination of alder, salmon berry and small trees.  The sections of alder were the worst.

Examples of Road conditions
Examples of Road conditions
Forgot to photo worst road sections.
Forgot to photo worst road sections.

There is much blowdown but always easy to cross over or walk under.   We reached snow on the road at elevation 2,500 feet.

Snow line. Big log fallen on road
Snow line. Big log fallen on road
traveling in 2nd growth timber
traveling in 2nd growth timber

We were so close to our goal and rather than turn back we took to the forest above the road which was clear of snow.   We climbed through 2nd growth timber to reach road only about ¼ mile to the end of the road.  Delightful 180-degree views of Baker Lake and Mt Baker at the road end.

Mt Baker from end of road
Mt Baker from end of road
Snow at trailhead
Snow at trailhead
looking east from end of road
looking east from end of road
There is lost trail on that ridge!
There is lost trail on that ridge!

There was small stream near the end of the road that might be a summer source of water for camping.  The trail is completely buried in snow.    With our goals for the trip met, we returned back the way we come after a short lunch.
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Brian Curtis
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PostSun May 03, 2020 9:30 pm 
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In case you don't realize this already, the trail doesn't actually go to Shuksan Lake as shown on your map. It only goes as far as the pots on top of the ridge.

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that elitist from silverdale wanted to tell me that all carnes are bad--Studebaker Hoch
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Roy Jensen
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PostSun May 03, 2020 10:20 pm 
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Agree.  All reports I have read agree that route down to the lake is cross country with no discernible path.

I am very interested in the history of the Shuksan Lake trail.  Any information or recollections are welcome. What I have found is summarized below. 

The 1939 FS trail inventory has a Shuksan Lake Way listed at 2.5 miles long.   None of the maps of the time show a trail reaching Shuksan Lake.  The 1953 FS trail inventory lists the trail as 5 miles in length with only 2.5 mile in satisfactory condition.  The 1953 FS shows a trail but it does not reach the lake.

The nature of the trail suggest it was not formally constructed but is a "fisher-laker" trail formed from the end of the logging road  built in the early 1960s.   The current route was first shown on the 1972 Forest map.
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Tom
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PostSun May 03, 2020 11:28 pm 
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Great idea, thanks for the TR. up.gif
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carlb328
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PostMon May 04, 2020 5:33 am 
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I hiked it about 15 or 20 years ago with my Dad. It is pretty much straight up. Once you reach the top it's bushy meadows and you can see the lake a ways below. I didn't have time on that trip to actually reach the lake but it would be easy compared to getting up there.

It's very sad they closed the road, that lake is on my list of places to fish when I get back to Washington.
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Brushbuffalo
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PostMon May 04, 2020 1:33 pm 
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carlb328 wrote:
is pretty much straight up.

The Shuksan Lake trail had a reputation as the steepest trail in the district.
An interesting bit of trivia is that on the 1953 USGS  Mt. Shuksan 15' topo map the lake is shown with a hachured contour surrounding it, indicating the lake is in a depression.
Wait....
The observant among you are shouting at me through your device
"Well DUH! All lakes are in depressions! A depression is where the water accumulates and is held!"
In this case  the outlet is drawn on the 1953 map flowing out from the lake, crossing the hachured contour, and then down Lake Creek to Baker River.
Catch the error?
Water  often flows or 'leaks' through a permeable end moraine or landslide dam in mountain lakes.  However,  as shown the outlet would have to be flowing uphill to flow from the lake and cross the hachured contour.

In the current Mt. Shuksan 7.5' the hachured contour is not shown.

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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Tom
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PostMon May 04, 2020 2:07 pm 
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Here are the historical maps: https://ngmdb.usgs.gov/topoview/viewer/#15/48.7738/-121.5741

1953
1953
1989
1989
2020
2020
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captain jack
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PostMon May 04, 2020 6:51 pm 
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Here's what I remember.
Road was scary to drive, mostly a 2 track rut, only practical for a high clearance four wheel drive, the drop offs were precipitous near the top.

The " trail " is not for the easily gassed, its a fishermans trail that goes straight up to the top of the ridge. Once you crest the ridge it a beautiful walk. Might wanna throw one flag up at the top of the climb, I found it hard to locate the trail going back down because the whole ridge has steep drop off, and the trail is not really apparent from the top of the ridge.

The only reason I went there was to avoid the tourons during the mid summer Baker Lake invasion.
If you go in the summer, be aware the flies know they got you because there's no way to move fast going straight up, or down. Still, that being said, its still one of my favorite places in the state.
More bears than people up there.
My favorite pic from my trip in 2006 was this;

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Backpacker Joe
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PostTue May 05, 2020 4:26 am 
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Great report thanks. I’d love to hit this one up this summer. Sadly it looks you couldn’t really even bike that road.

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"If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide."

— Abraham Lincoln
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Sore Feet
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PostTue May 05, 2020 10:12 pm 
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I did this one back in 2006 - I think not too long after Captain Jack did it actually.  The road was actually in fine shape at the time, drove all the way up to the trailhead in my Honda Prelude without incident.  The trail was obvious and easy to follow, but it was definitely not an officially maintained or constructed trail in any sense.  It does (did) go literally straight up the hill just like the maps show.  I didn't try to go down to the lake, instead bailed before the tarns and ran the ridge around the west side of Shuksan Lake to the saddle between Shannon and Sulphide Creeks.  Great views from up there.

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Bryan Swan
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Waterfalls - www.waterfallsnorthwest.com
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Backpacker Joe
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PostWed May 06, 2020 6:34 am 
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SF, you made it all the way up there and you didnt even take pics of the tarns or go down to the lake????

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"If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide."

— Abraham Lincoln
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Sore Feet
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PostWed May 06, 2020 6:07 pm 
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I took pictures of the lake from the ridge, it's a much better view than anything you'd get down on the shore (and also I didn't want to climb down there after climbing up 1500 feet).  Didn't bother even going to the tarns because it didn't interest me at the time.

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Bryan Swan
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Waterfalls - www.waterfallsnorthwest.com
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carlb328
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PostThu May 07, 2020 12:31 pm 
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I am wondering if it would be possible to go up the creek from the Baker river trail? Probably too busy though, but it would be shorter than walking the road and the trail.
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Brushbuffalo
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PostThu May 07, 2020 2:35 pm 
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It might be possible but not probable.

Knowing that country as I do, going up Lake Creek would most likely be twice as long in time, four times as difficult, and eight times more exasperating, if not scary too.
Look at the positive! At least the dense brush will conceal nearly all of the cliffs and rapids in the creek.

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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captain jack
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PostMon May 11, 2020 8:17 pm 
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carlb328 wrote:
I am wondering if it would be possible to go up the creek from the Baker river trail? Probably too busy though, but it would be shorter than walking the road and the trail.

You mean, up Lake Creek ?
First 850-3700 feet, so 2850 vertical in under a mile, cross country. Let that sink in.

Then, imagine sharp, but surprisingly slippery rock, with freezing cold water blasting you constantly from above. One slip, your gonna most definitely break a bone, or worse, because there is no self arrest technique for waterfalls, that I'm aware of anyways.
Chopper cant get too close, so you gotta gut it out until someone dumb enough to track your route comes along.
Say you make it, now how you gonna get back down ?
Since you didn't come up the trail, which will be long since overgrown, now your gonna have to bushwack uphill, cross country to the tarns the to the ridge, then try and find the old way trail down.
Just call SAR now, it'll save you a couple Mountain House meals.

I peered over the edge from the outlet of the island tarn, straight down.
Then, there's the flies.............


Ok, now Bryan
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