Skoki '21: Tilted Heart
For over 10 yrs I've been going to Skoki in September as it is one of best places for golden larches. This year I decided to go a bit early to catch some of late summer alpine colors. But where to go this time? I thought about backpacking to Baker Lake then have a leisurely photo shoot next morning, but at the end settled for a dayhike. Initial thought was Baker Lake turnaround, but hiking in I noticed already snowcapped Mt. Lychnis, along with Tilted Mtn in foreground. Secluded valley below these peaks is area I always wanted to visit; quick check at the watch told me I probably had enough time. And it was terrific choice; very beautiful in total wilderness setting that some years doesn't even see human presence. Getting there is not entirely straightforward, but if you are comfortable hiking off-trails and finding your own way it is not difficult either. So I am presenting this report as "Baker Lake to Tilted Valley"; pictorial tells the story:
[Baker Lake pano; I was able to get here in under 3 hrs, but this will probably be too fast for most people. This is where decision was made to go for "Tilted Valley"; snowy Mt. Lychnis distance center, Tilted Peak in front of it]
[Zoom at Lychnis and Tilted from little ridge behind Baker Lake campground where I took first break of the day]
Just past Baker Lake campground (SK11) there is marked junction; left for Cottongrass Pass and Red Deer Lakes, right for Sawback Trail (and eventually Wildflower Creek and Pulsatilla Pass). Taking a right descends to valley bottom and junction with Sawback Trail, with somewhat weathered Parks Table:
I followed Sawback Trail for short time only, then crossed meadows aiming towards obvious slab / canyon draining Heart Lake at lip of Tilted Valley:
I thought I might intercept some faint trail, but didn't find any. I decided to stay on climber right of canyon and that proved to be correct decision. Bit of bushwhack and somewhat steep slope brought me to top of this feature, that looked very impressive; earlier in the season there is probably very nice waterfall here:
From here easiest way is to follow ridge just for a bit, then descend to canyon - which has now reverted into mossy draw. Probably quite wet earlier, but now late in summer most of it was dry and allowed for easy travel. Further up as I saw breaks in treeline to the left I left this draw and hiked up to base of somewhat unexpected talus field. Lip of Heart Lake cirque could be seen above; diagonal traverse required bit of stability but no other issues
["Tilted Tarn" - at end of mossy draw I was following above the canyon. Very beautiful and very secluded; I doubt anyone ever goes here]
[Talus field leading to lip of Heart Lake cirque, roughly center of photo; this bit was unavoidable]
[Heart Lake; shape makes it obvious where the name comes from. Water level was quite low, revealing muddy shore. I decided to make it to the other side; right side is shorter, but going on left side was much easier. I really enjoyed this part]
[Pano from north side of Heart Lake, with Tilted peak in center. Snowy Lychnis behind to the left. Lip where I gained the cirque is extreme right]
[Sasquatch Prints in the Mud of Heart Lake!]
From far end of the lake I couldn't resist going further. I became aware I'd be hiking out of Skoki with headlamp, but so what. There is short headwall with small cascading waterfall leading to very beautiful upper valley. I believe people that climb Lychnis bivi below this headwall, but it is far far better to continue to upper valley - much pristine and much better bivi with soft moss and rushing and very clean water. I continued to head of this upper valley where meadow transitioned to talus (beautiful waterfall here too, probably draining some tarn higher up) and had early dinner in total solitude; such a wonderful place
[Heart Lake pano from top of small headwall leading to upper valley]
[Upper valley with clean water; such an excellent bivi spot]
[Nearing top of upper valley; access for Mt. Lychnis would continue up talus slopes above, while horribly loose and not really worth Titled Peak scramble would go to the right (out of picture)]
[Telephoto of snowy Mt. Lychnis ridge from turnaround point. This is very rarely ascended peak, but it is mountaineering as it involves glacier crossing. Only worthy report I could find is here ]
Return was long, but again very quick & I had to switch headlamp already past Halfway Hut. I don't have full day stats but it was in excess of 30km and probably ~1000m with all the ups and downs. This is the customary map and elevation profile for Baker Lake - Tilted Valley Part:
I'd definitely like to return back to this area. It would be great day-hike from Baker Lake "basecamp", with added time to further explore this delightful valley - including ascent to "Lychnis col" - roughly 450m vertical higher up from where glacier views could be also enjoyed.
Full report with more pics and GPS download link here
Photo of Heart Lake taken from route to Oyster Lake (2nd photo).
Beautiful! But on 2nd photo you have Oyster lake (next Valley North). Heart lk and Tilted Valley are on your 1st pic, with scramble slopes up Tilted peak above. Prob. taken earlier in summer too, much more water
Beautiful photos, what a dayhike. Sometimes the best outings are like this one, you just look at the landscape and go and explore. Heart Lake setting and Tilted Peak are both just wonderful.
Thank you; yes, this is main reason why I mostly hike by myself; total sense of freedom in this increasingly chaotic and turbulent world. And now looking at pics JHector posted, I have target for next season: Oyster Lake. I don't want to ask how he got there on purpose because it will be fun to figure out the route.
But now that I know you like backpacking, you could set multi-night "basecamp" at Baker Lake - there are tons of very scenic dayhikes from there. Only downside is - Baker CG is busy & hard to book. But location is superb & sipping morning coffee at lakeshore is something special.
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