Mount Baker Summer Weekend

Mount Baker Summer Weekend

For the second weekend in August, the photography and naturalists committees teamed up for a weekend of eventsat Baker Lodge. We used the great opportunity to share our love of the outdoors together and develop an enhanced sense of connection. And to take in the Perseid Meteor showers – or so we hoped!

Rich Lawrence contacted me several months ago about hosting an astrophotography weekend at Baker Lodgeduring the Perseids. Since I have been wanting to take photos of the Milky Way, I jumped on the idea. I also suggested that we make it a photography/naturalist weekend to better fill the lodge. Many of the naturalist members hadn’t been to the lodge before and wanted to share the experience with them. Gordie Swartzman, naturalist committee chair, enthusiastically agreed and set up multiple hikes for the weekend. I set up photography activities in addition to the astrophotography evening.

MT BAKER LODGE AS SEEN ON APPROACH. A PICTURE WINDOW ON THE FRONT OVERLOOKS MT. SHUKSAN.

We had a pretty full lodge for the weekend, but as we got closer to the date, several people dropped out due to a terrible weather forecast. The rest of us decided to go anyway since weather in our area has a habit of changing quickly.

I left Seattle on Friday, August 10 around 2pm. Traffic was the worst I’ve ever seen going north. It took two hours to go only 30 miles! Shortly after traffic speed picked up at Marysville, cars in my lane suddenly hit the brakes and started zig-zagging to avoid hitting anyone. After slowing down considerably, it suddenly felt like someone rear-ended me. Nobody had, but I had run over a trailer hitch in the middle of the road, which apparently tangled with my drive-shaft, causing the car to momentarily cease. Shaken, I continued to Baker Lodge, arriving around 7pm. It was quite the five hour trip!

Shortly after arrival, Gordie showed up with other naturalists. They had just finished hiking Skyline Divideand were excitedly talking about all they had seen.

 

Dinner was on our own Friday night, but many people brought things to share and we held an impromptu potluck. Gordie makes a mean blackberry cobbler!

I was tired and went to bed around 10pm. Others decided to drive up to Artist Point to see if the sky was clear enough to photograph stars. I was bummed to learn later, that it had cleared up and some photographers got photos of the Milky Way.

 

A few of us got up very early (4:30am) on Saturday morning to photograph the sunrise over Mt. Shuksan at Picture Lake. The mountain was clearly visible while we were setting up our cameras, but within minutes, the wind picked up and the mountain soon was socked in by clouds. That’s how it goes in the Cascades.

Back at the lodge, breakfast was being prepared. Our host in training, Petra, and her helpers prepared ingredients for breakfast burritos, pastries, and oatmeal (with lots of topping options). It was one of the best breakfasts I’ve had at the lodge!

After clean-up, Gordie took a group of naturalists on a hike on Chain Lakes Loop in search of wildflowers. I was to lead a group of photographers on the high part of Chain Lakes Loop that left from Artist Point and continued on to Ptarmigan Ridge. When we got to Artist Point, however, it was totally socked in and I didn’t think it was safe to hike that area with the sheer drop-off on the one side (and not being able to even see it). So, we opted to hike the Bagley Lake Loop. It was a much shorter trail, but it was below the clouds and we could safely navigate it.

We saw such a variety of wildflowers along the lake! I got to see species that I hadn’t seen before (like the elephant head lousewort). The water was crystal clear and, in sections, looked like a beautiful garden that someone had cultivated. We finished the hike right as the rain starting pouring (we encountered light mist on our hike).

After the hike, several of us went back to the lodge to either hang out or take naps (like I did).

Dinner Saturday night was sage roasted chicken, vegetable risotto, and salad (there were stuffed portabella mushrooms for those who were vegetarian). It was so good!

As the evening wore on, the weather didn’t show any signs of clearing up, so the astrophotography activity was canceled. Everyone kicked back to read or to play games (the lodge has many games, puzzles, and books). I went to bed shortly after dessert (berry crisp).

Breakfast on Sunday morning was a strata, fruit salad, pastries, and oatmeal. Seriously, the food served over the weekend was the best food served at the lodge in the many times I had stayed there!

After clean-up of the lodge, I departed and headed home. Many of the naturalists continued hiking at Yellow Aster Butte and Hannegan Pass.

I had taken my oldest son with me to the lodge. He was visiting from Texas and I fretted over how others would perceive him. He’s 38, but because of developmental issues, is more like a young teen with poor impulse control. My worries were for not… everyone made him feel very welcome and he continues to talk about how much fun he had! So, thank you to the other Mountaineers for making it a special weekend for him!

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