On Thursday August 21st, my brother-in-law Kurt, friend Zach, and I hiked the chain Lakes Trail near Mt. Baker. It’s a moderate trail that ranges from easy to difficult. In fact, the last two miles of the trail is downhill. Along for the fun was Zach’s dog Domino.
Starting at Artist’s Point, we began the 7 mile loop at about 10:30 in the morning. It was cool and breezy. The sky was deep blue with patches of clouds around Mt. Shuksan and Mt. Baker. You can see steam rising from Sherman Crater.
Kurt on the Trail:
The crater is the active part of Mt. Baker. For those who don’t know, Mt. Baker is the second most active volcano in the state of Washington. Right after Mt. Saint Helens.
Booyah! Scenes from “Dante’s Peak” came flashing in. How does one outrun a Pyroclastic flow?
Couple and Cairn:
I packed as I’d normally pack when going on a day hike: a little too much. I used my Camelbak with a 100 oz. bladder full with fresh water, Petzl headlamp with fresh batteries, light jacket, compass, gloves, water filter, Leatherman knife, regular knife, eating utensils, protein bar, protein shake, jerky for snacking, and trail mix.
Looking West from the Trail:
In the pack I also carried my 55mm f/2.8 macro for close-up shots in a soft pouch inside a waterproof bag, my Nikon SB-910 flash, SB-29 off-camera cord, my D300s, my 17-35 f/2.8, lens cleaner and cloth, and an extra battery. As weight was a bit of an issue, I left the tripod at home.
The weight in the pack was nominal, but I like to be prepared: both photographically and in case of an accident.
After heading out, it was clear the photo ops would be phenomenal. The wildflowers were still in bloom, the sky fantastic, and although the light was mid day, it was just gorgeous.
As we hit about a mile out on the trail under the ridgeline of Table Mountain, we saw Mt. Baker in the distance over Ptarmigan Ridge with Coleman Pinnacle jutting into the bluebird sky. The passing clouds framed it wonderfully. The scenery towards Baker Lake was stunning.
Asters at Iceberg Lake:
As we approached the fork in the trail, I saw the silhouette of a figure against a snow field under Mt. Baker. I took a few frames for posterity. Nothing grand. But here’s a link: Silhouette on Ptarmigan Ridge
Along the way there were some small patches of Fireweed, asters, and daisies. I’m no horticulturist, but I’m certain they’re daisies. As we walked between the lakes, the wildflowers were amazing. The fireweed were tall, the asters stunning, and the scenery unbeatable. Even this Colorado boy was stunned by the backwoods beauty.
While we took a break at Iceberg Lake, Kurt decided it was time for a bath, well, sort of. He went to the water’s edge as he wanted to jump in. Instead after feeling the chill, he opted to cool down and wash his head. A wise move since we didn’t bring any blankets. And I wasn’t going to cuddle with him while he warmed up. LOL.
Kurt Shaking it Off:
After the lakes, we continued onto the trail which followed the saddle between Table Mountain and Mazama Dome. This provided a splendid view of the valley towards Mt. Shuksan.
The View From the Saddle:
From this viewpoint, it was pretty much downhill. Seriously, it was about 2 miles of downhill trail. Relatively easy-going. Unfortunately, Domino began getting tired and as a result, slipped on some sharp rocks and earned a slight cut. He was limping, but still strong.
Getting a Better View:
During one rough section, in order keep him from hurting his foot any more, Kurt carried him about 50 yards through one part of the trail that was bedded with sharp rock.
A Little Help From a Friend:
Half way down, we paused to take a break. We found a small grassy area to chill. This gave Domino a little time to recoup as we also caught our breath and reenergize with some trail snacks. Domino thought it was his playground and just did what dogs like to do, rolled around in the grass.
Exhausted and beat at the end of the hike, I already decided I want to backpack in and spend a night at the lakes shooting the stars and trying to capture some of the Aurora Borealis we can sometimes see from Bellingham.
What a View – The Last Section of Trail:
Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.
Paul “pablo” Conrad
Follow me on these various Social Networks:
Paul Conrad is an award-winning, nationally published freelance photographer living in Bellingham, Wash., in the Pacific Northwest. His work has been published in newspapers and magazine throughout the United States and in Europe.
His specialty is photojournalism covering news, sports, and editorial portraits, he also is skilled in family portraiture, high school senior portraits, and weddings. He is available for short and long-term assignments.