I had taken a couple of paddling trips, recently, but I was just not getting in the mileage I got on a typical trip. I was really craving an extended kayaking adventure. Duff and I had planned to do one this past Friday, but he had family plans interfere. I decided to go anyway, and decided that I’d head back up to Baker Lake. Despite it being the week of the Fourth of July, the timing turned out to be perfect, and it was a great day out on the water.
I decided to get an early start. By 7:00 I was on the road, driving through Sedro-Woolley and on up the Cascade Loop. I stopped in Lyman for breakfast and for snacks for lunch, then continued on my way.
I was afraid that Baker Lake would be overly crowded. I was hoping that an early start would mean that I’d be on the water before others woke up. I passed several state parks and campgrounds with signs saying, “Campground Full.” I was worried.
When I got to my launch site at Panorama Point there were a few trucks and trailers, but it wasn’t too bad. I paid the day use fee and got my gear ready. Chatting with the site’s host I found out that I had been very fortunate in my choice of paddling days. The next day was opening day for the sockeye salmon season. This boat ramp would be crazy.
I set out and Panorama Point once again lived up to its name. Mount Shuksan and Mount Baker rose above the morning fog. The lake at this point was as glassy as could be.
I had chatted with some boaters at the ramp about lake conditions. One guy said that you didn’t want to get caught at the upper end of the lake in late afternoon. The valley turns into a wind tunnel with a stiff wind from the south. If you’re trying to paddle back from that area it can be difficult. Last time I was here I headed south, and this time I really wanted to head to the upper end of the lake. Fortunately it was still quite early, so I felt that I was safe setting off in that direction, especially with the water as still as it was.
Logjams can be a problem on the lake. I had seen massive jams at the upper end and around areas where tributaries enter the lake. With strong rains and runoff logs can wash down and collect in the still waters. As I paddled I spotted what looked to be other boats, either kayaks or canoes, out on the water. When I got closer I saw that these were just logs that had made their way out into the lake. This must be really tricky for motor boats. I’d sure had to hit one at speed.
I made my way to the other side of the lake and paddled along the shore. This lake reminds me very much of Lake Jocassee back home. The waters are clear (for the most part) and quite cold. Like Jocassee, this is a man-made lake. The area was logged when the lake was built and stumps are visible under the water.
Several streams enter the lake from this side. I would hear water falling, but in most cases I couldn’t see the stream itself because of vegetation or floating logs and debris. The Baker Lake Trail also runs through here. There are foot bridges across some of the larger streams, such as the one over Silver Creek.
As I approached on stream I spotted a float that had gotten away from someone. It was in great shape, so I tried to retrieve it, if for no other reason than to get a piece of plastic out of the water. First I wanted to make sure I wasn’t taking away someone’s ride back home, so I checked and shouted. No response. I rigged up a tow line.
Towing the tube was a pain. I pulled it up and set it on the stern of the boat, but that was going to be awkward as well. I spotted a boat ramp on the other side of the lake and made plans to haul it over there. As I rounded a point I spotted a couple camping and asked if the tube might be theirs. They said it wasn’t, but that they would take it off my hands. I gladly passed it along.
Just around from their camp I found a cove and the appropriately named Noisy Creek. This was the largest of the tributaries I’d come across. The trail crosses the creek at a point that I could almost paddle underneath. As soon as I entered the cove a rush of cool air hit me. After being out in the hot sun paddling it was quite refreshing.
I paddled back out and around another point. There was another small stream , but more importantly, a great place to land and have lunch. This was just along the trail and I saw several hikers pass by. I had to maneuver through the floating logs to get over to the rocky beach area.
I lingered a bit, then decided it was time to head back. Clouds were building, but I didn’t think it would rain. The top of Mount Baker was now obscured. I decided to paddle along the other side of the lake, past the boat ramps, picnic areas, and camp grounds. Activity was picking up, and a couple of kayakers and paddle boarders launched from the ramp on the other side.
I didn’t take many photos along this stretch, but relied on the GoPro to catch some images. I was busy trying to dodge floating debris. This side of the lake seems to have more of. I was paddling quicker, too, ready to get back to the ramp. It seemed that I had much farther to go than I thought.
I reached the cove leading back to Panorama Point sooner than I expected. It was a long, tiring trip, just the kind that I needed.
In all I paddled 9.6 miles. That’s pretty decent for one of my trips.
Here’s the time-lapse from the GoPro…
I loaded up the boat and gear, but was still in the mood to explore. I found a twisting road that led from the Baker Lake road up and over a ridge to the town of Concrete. Along the way there were switchbacks with great views of the Skagit River Valley.
The road dropped back down and I drove through the town. On the west side of town the Concrete Swap Meet was in full(ish) swing.
This was a far cry from the southern flea markets with which I’m accustomed. I certainly didn’t see anything to catch my attention or that I needed, especially since we’re getting ready to pack up and move.
There was some attempt at making this a farmers market, but there weren’t too many farmers offering their wares. I’m still trying to figure out how the Forest Moon Paranormal group fits in with a farmers market.
It was a great day out and about and I finally got one long kayaking trip in. I don’t know how many more of these I can do before we have to pack up and head home.