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Trip Reports The Trip Reports forum is for backpackers to share their actual (not links to) trip reports and/or journal entries for their wilderness backpacking and day-hiking trips. Please include photos and information regarding what worked (e.g. gear) and what didn't.

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Old 07-20-2015, 12:14 PM
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dsuursoo dsuursoo is offline
Practical Backpacking­™ Senior Member
Backpack: Mountainsmith Maverick 65
Sleeping Gear: ALPS +20 mummy
Shelter: Kelty Noah 9x9
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 1,482
Baker lake trail

Hubris is attempting double digit mileage in 90+ degree weather. We managed 9.6 miles.

The trail was fantastic, views were amazing. We enjoyed crystal clear skies at night(I saw at least three GPS satellites pass) and I got a newbie fully booked on backpacking.

More detailed post (and photos) to follow.
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Old 07-26-2015, 01:15 PM
© 2006-2016 Practical Backpacking™ / All Rights Reserved
dsuursoo dsuursoo is offline
Practical Backpacking­™ Senior Member
Backpack: Mountainsmith Maverick 65
Sleeping Gear: ALPS +20 mummy
Shelter: Kelty Noah 9x9
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 1,482
So, the baker lake trail - sorry to have taken so long on this, it's been quite the week.

It was my first time on this particular trail, and the first long distance/overnight backpacking trip for my niece Felicia.

the weather was just short of blistering - 90 degree highs both days, about 50% humidity or better depending on the point in the trail we were at.

on the baker lake trail: This is a trail in the Mt baker-Snoqualmie national forest. It follows the east side of baker lake, starting from just above the baker dam up to the top of the baker river delta. 14.4 miles round trip, approx 3000' elevation gains(the trail is very up and down). the trail iself follows the lake roughly, as the terrain allows. As Baker Lake is a man-enhanced lake(raised several hundred feet above the original lake's level by damming), the terrain on the east side of the lake more or less drops(occasionally plunges) directly into the lake. the trail follows the best path available, and as a result winds in and out of cut sections worn away by water erosion over time, and often up and down hill - it could go from being within 50' of the lake's level, but well back in the woods to a small stream crossing, and 20 minutes later(and a good climb), it would be several hundred feet higher, and breaking out into a dramatic viewpoint on a cliff.

there are several camps spaces semi-evenly along the baker lake trail with anywhere from 3-6 rough campsites each - these camps all feature bear lockers and tables and fire-rings(though baker lake area was under a full burn ban outside of developed campgrounds on the other side of the lake). we stopped at Maple Grove, Silver Creek, and Noisy creek camps - giving Anderson point camp a pass as it was too close to the trailhead to warrant stopping on either day.

Maple Grove campsite is easily the most spacious and has the last private toilet - an actual outhouse - on the trail. six or seven approximate campsites, all of them featuring tables and several having food-lockers. the camp was down at lake-level and even featured a floating dock.

Silver Creek is quite a bit further down the trail(just about 5 miles) and is extremely pleasant - much smaller than either Noisy Camp or Maple Grove - only three actual sites and a few other spots that were very amenable. the creek the camp is named for runs right next to the camp and keeps the temperatures at the camp down a little, and provides the overall easiest source of water.

Noisy Camp was the last spot on the trail we reached before calling it a day. it's about 200-ish yards from Noisy creek itself - which is a very accurate name. larger than Silver Creek, it was overall a very pleasant spot to flake out and call it a day.

trail conditions were pretty good. There had been a fire somewhere on the long stretch between Maple Grove and Silver Creek camps earlier in the summer but it didn't wreck the trail itself. indeed if you didn't know what to look for you could easily pass the burn area up. It was bloody hot, however, which took its toll - between that and our late start getting to the trailhead, we wound up flopping out at Noisy creek camp, about 9.6 miles in. all told we tore through almost a gallon of water each the first day. if we hadn't had frequent stream crossings we could stop and cool off at, the hike out especially would have been MUCH harder.

We arrived at the trailhead later than we intended on saturday, delayed by I5 north getting shut down(massive accident - if we hadn't been delayed getting out of town, we'd have maybe been in it.). we still had about nine hours of day, give or take, so we set out. The opening of the trail from the south trailhead is fairly level, dropping somewhat into washington's typical mountain-side forests. a good warmup. it descended, for the most part, for about a mile and a half before reaching Anderson creek, which had a fun log bridge(or horse ford) to cross.

from the creek the trail winds along through fairly scenic forests, teasing views of the lake on occasion. Anderson Point camp comes along at less than a half-mile after that. Two miles later, we reached Maple grove and stopped for lunch. at this point we were hot, not overly tired, but feeling good.

the longest single stretch on the trail runs from Maple Grove camp to Silver Creek camp - just shy of 5 miles by my pace-count. it's quite breathtaking at times - crossing a number of streams, a rockslide slope, and a number of cliffs offering spectacular views of the lakes and surrounding hills, with Mt Baker looming in the near distance. in all, a tough section but extremely rewarding. the mosquitos were out in force.

we reached Silver Creek camp just before six pm. it was a 'drop and stop' break for us. Felicia hadn't done quite so hard a trip, with a pack, ever, and wound up taking a snooze. i went for a wade in the lake to cool down. we topped up a couple bottles of water - which is where i discovered i was lower on water treatment tablets than i thought - we had to resort to boil-treatments the next day, and hit the trail again.

Noisy Creek is an extremely accurate name. we could hear it almost a mile off, which certainly helped our pace. the creek itself is very large - crossed by an extremely sturdy bridge. wonderfully, it had a continuous steady cold breeze blowing out of it, which after hours in 90 degree heat, hiking, felt almost brain-disablingly good. the creek empties out into a fairly shallow cove that would make for fantastic swimming. the camp itself is about a half mile further on, at a point in trail that is a little oddly signed.

we opted to flake out for the day at Noisy Camp. dinner was a simple affair - bit of trail mix, some jerkey, mountain house(i forgot how tasty the sweet/sour pork was - my niece was impressed that trail food would taste that good). the sun finally set and the camp cooled off nicely - our nighttime low was just about 60 degrees.

we indulged in a little night-sky photography and went to sleep. Hammocks are a sign that there is a benevolent being that loves us and wants us to sleep comfortably. Felicia used my self-inflator and slept in the tent, and came to the conclusion that a pad like that was money well worth spending. a crystal-clear night sky meant we could do away with tarps or tent flys and enjoy the stars - i even spotted a few satellites(GPS, from the direction they were headed)

sunday dawned clear and quiet. the lake was in the middle of its salmon run, and that morning we woke to dozens of boats on the lake. it warmed up steadily. After Felicia declared me amazing for having packed along coffee to have with breakfast, we broke camp and finally hit the trail at about 10AM.

we stopped at Silver Creek for water - this being the boiling we had to fall back to. all told an hour lost to hydration needs. we both agreed a filter-pump was definitely the way to go.

once setting out at silver creek, we aimed for a fairly brisk pace. we covered the distance to Maple Grove in about two hot, sweaty, breathless hours. we stopped to eat on the floating dock, and wound up taking a swim - we were both near hysterical as we cooled off - the lake is glacier/snowpack fed and was still pretty cold.

the trail out was uneventful for the most part - it's slightly more foot-work technical when you're southbound than north. the climbs are longer southbound than north, overall, with less steep slopes. descents are a little pickier.

we passed up Anderson Point again, on the way out. we did however pass a number of northbound backpackers, including a family with three small kids(more power to them).

extremely rewarding, after a long and hot hike, was stopping at kulshan campground(at the bottom of the road leading to the trail, just below the dam), and taking the time to wash off with the running water available - wonderfully cold water i might add.

we tried hard to make it down to Cascade Burger in Concrete before closing - they closed early. sad day. their burgers are on point, and would be a fantastic post-hike treat. we had to settle for snacks and wonderfully cold drinks from the store next door.

great hike.
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