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Baker Lodge Family Weekend


September 2-4, 2005



For Labor Day weekend, Daniel and I joined in a family weekend at the Mountaineers lodge at Mt. Baker.  It was an overcast and sometimes rainy weekend, but that just made it more of an adventure hiking amid the clouds.  The kids kept going no matter what the weather.


(Click any photo to enlarge.)


Chain Lakes Loop


Traversing below Table Mountain on the Chain Lakes Trail

On Saturday, five kids and seven adults did the Chain Lakes Loop, which passes five lakes in a loop around Table Mountain.  Daniel dressed in a unique outfit that included a floppy red-white-and-blue stovepipe hat on his head and seven stuffed neo-pets swinging from his backpack.  We started off with Daniel and Ryan leading the way along the traverse on the south side of Table Mountain.  Fog hid the higher peaks beyond the trail, lending an otherworldly feel to the hike.  We saw a couple pikas (little rabbit-like animals that live in alpine rocks) on the rocks below the trail. 


Our first major stop was at Mazama Lake on the west end of Table Mountain.  Last time we were here, the kids swam in the sunshine; this year they climbed on rocks while scattered raindrops made rings of ripples in the lake.  Next we continued on to Iceberg Lake.  After a dry winter and hot summer, there were no icebergs in the lake, nor any snow patches anywhere.  The blueberries, however, were abundantly ripe, and I feasted all along the way.  


Then we passed by Hayes Lake and made the steep climb up to Mazama Pass, the high point of the trip, with views back down to Iceberg Lake and ahead to Bagley Lakes and the ski area.  After a steep hike downhill, we followed the trail along the shoreline of the Bagley Lakes and back to the lodge. 


Chain Lakes Trailhead at Artist Point

Ledges Along the Trail

Snack Break by Mazama Lake

Herman Saddle & Iceberg Lake


Daniel's Hiking Outfit

Ryan & Daniel Heading into the Fog

Giant Daniel Walking on Ledges

Blueberries stain your fingers.

Raindrops in Mazama Lake

Daniel on a Rock at Mazama Lake

The Boys' Rock at Iceberg Lake

The Girls' Rock at Iceberg Lake

Matt & Daniel at Hayes Lake

Mountaineers' Baker Lodge


Baker Lodge makes a great home base for a family weekend outdoors.  The top floor has bunks arranged in alcoves, where each family can set up a space for themselves.  There’s also a loft where the kids can play games and a living room where I enjoy relaxing and reading books about the mountains.  The dining room has a two-story high window wall facing the famous view of Mt. Shuksan.  Clouds hid the summit for most of the weekend, but occasionally we could see the Shuksan’s glaciers glinting blue in the diffuse light under the skirt of the clouds.  Everyone shares in cooking and cleaning up the communal meals, which sure taste great at the beginning and end of a day outdoors.  Volunteers keep the lodge running, and this weekend a special thanks goes to Judy for managing the lodge and Arlene for cooking. 


Saturday evening the kids put on a talent show.  Daniel hammed it up as the emcee.  The girls demonstrated some dancing (with Daniel diving out of the way when they came to close.)  The boys told some jokes and riddles.  Ryan demonstrated tricks for flipping a rope into knots, even when blindfolded.  Daniel demonstrated a trick with dots on a card that he learned at the Medieval Faire last year.


Lunch at Baker Lodge

Talent Show

Dinner at the Lodge

Ryan's Rope Trick

Washing Dishes

The Bunk Area


A Geology Lesson

After the talent show, I talked about some some local facts I had learned from a mountain geology book I’ve been reading.  Daniel introduced me by helpfully announcing that my presentation would be too boring for any kids, but a few adults might be interested.  I think it’s interesting, so here it is: 

  • Mt. Baker, the volcano that dominates the scene today, is actually just a recent baby of the area’s volcanic history.  Baker is just 30,000 years old and 10,000 feet high. 
  • The Black Buttes, which crop out on one side of Baker, are the decayed core of a volcano 100,000 years ago that was twice as large. 
  • Table Mountain was produced by huge lava flows from a super-volcano 300,000 years ago.  It looks like a steep-sided table because the lava filled in all the spaces between previous ridges till it was all flat, and then other land eroded away, leaving the flat-topped hard lava behind.
  • Heather Meadows sits on an even older caldera, where a volcano blew upward 1.1 million years ago and then collapsed in on itself, similar to Crater Lake.  The lodge and its surroundings are sitting on top of a 3000-foot deep pile of volcanic ash inside the 2˝ mile wide caldera.

Lower Wild Goose Trail


Sunday morning the fog had turned to light rain, so all the families made a short hike on the Lower Wild Goose trail, which traverses hillsides from the lower parking lot to the Visitor’s Center, perched above the Bagley Lakes.  Along the way we walked by hexagonal columns formed when lava cooled, and walked over curving pillows of lava on the hillside.   

Columnar Basalt

Kids Hiking up basalt to Visitor's Center

Daniel on basalt with Bagley Lake below.

Crossing the Bagley Lake Bridge.


Table Mountain

The trail to the top of Table Mountain is short but steep, actually blasted into the side of a cliff in some areas.  Because of the rain, it might be slippery, but Daniel and I decided we would try the trail carefully and see if we could safely go to the top.   The trail actually had good traction, so we went to the nearest crest of the mountain, where we built a big cairn together.  It made for dramatic hiking together, with the fog shrouding the summit and accenting the cliffs along the trail.


While we were driving up to the trailhead, Daniel saw his first marmot, when one ran across the road.  He had always wanted to see a marmot, because they’re my favorite mountain animal.  Driving back down, we saw another marmot and later saw a deer by the road.  Daniel had the camera ready, and he got pictures of the tail end of both animals.


Table Mountain hiding in the cloud.

Daniel heading up the trail.

Daniel building a cairn.

Putting the crown stone on the cairn.

Daniel with our cairn.

Raindrops on Daniel

Daniel by the cliffs (protected by a rock railing).

Heading down the fog-shrouded trail.

Marmot by the road.

Deer by the road.

Personal Historical Footnote

Table Mountain ranks as the peak I have most often been on or around in the Cascades:


  • 198?:  I hiked up Table Mountain with Grandpa Bob & Grandma Carol.  Grandpa carried his poodle, Pepper, up the trail to the top.
  • 1/14 - 1/16/89:  On a cross-country ski trip, Jeff & I camped in snow on top of Huntoon Point and traversed below Table Mountain on skis out toward Ptarmigan Ridge.
  • 9/14/90:  On a Mountaineers Singles Weekend, I hiked the Chain Lakes Loop in heavy rain and learned that I needed a much better raincoat.
  • 2/23/02:  I snow-shoed over Mazama Pass & Iceberg Lake en route to Barometer Mountain.
  • 4/20/02:  I snow-shoed up a gully near Mazama Pass onto the top of Table Mountain in a white-out.
  • 1/18/03:  I enjoyed a very leisurely snowshoe trip on a warm sunny day up Table Mountain from Artist’s Point and back down via the slopes above Bagley Lake.
  • 9/5 – 9/7/03:  On a Mountaineers Family Weekend, Daniel and I did the Chain Lakes Loop and Table Mountain.


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