After a bevy of recent trips, ShoelessJohn and I were both feeling a bit backpacked-out, and in the mood for a low-key adventure...but where to? The Baker area is a favourite of mine; and, since John had never hiked in the area, I began searching for a good car-camp/day hike option. I found it at Twin Lakes.
Just past the Tomyhoi/Yellow Aster Butte trailhead, the Twin Lakes road becomes rougher: snaking up the valley to the lakes as the views of Goat Mt. get better and better. This is a Mine-to-Market road, and it's only due to active claims further up that the road has not been entirely left for nature to reclaim.
It had been a leisurely start out of the city and it wasn't until late afternoon that we arrived at the lake, claimed our camp, and donned our hiking gear to head out on to the trailhead.
Both of the Winchester Mountain and High Pass trails start off at a spot between the lakes. They share the path through bee-buzzed blooms until, about a half mile in, the Winchester trail veers off, leaving one continuing on around the back of Winchester towards the passes.
Here we found ourselves sidehilling through scores of wildflowers, this shady slope being one that is a reluctant summer melt. The trail leads relentlessly down along the hill until it reaches the bottom of a pass, then winds up and up on familiar Baker-like switchbacks: back and forth, back and forth across a rock slide.
As we arrived at Low Pass, we again met the sun. We wandered along the ridge and over a bump, until we reached another pass with a great view of Mt. Larrabeee and Tomyhoi Peak. Since it was getting on, we decided to make this our turn around spot.
As we got back to the lakes, Alpine Glow was spreading its golden hands over the peaks, holding on as we prepared a hot dinner at camp. Glancing up at the peak, we could see the orange flicker of a flag waving in the breeze on Winchester's summit, catching the dying light. Soon enough, though, the fire of the sunset was replaced by the stark brightness of the near-full moon.
The next morning, we awoke with the sun's warmth to stillness and calm waters. Part of the fun of car camping is the food, and we devoured delicious breakfast wraps before we started out for the day's objective- Winchester Mountain.
Again, a lovely, well-maintained trail with much diversity of flora. It takes a lazy, limbering path up the east side of the mountain, until it swings across it's face, with a beautiful view of Goat Mt and steep drop-offs to the lake below.
That morning as we were lounging lakeside, pre-breakfast, we gazed at the mountain; and, seing no visible paths, we had played the game: "If there was no trail, which route would you chose up the mountain?" Well, here we were, following the same route through the rocky bands on the trail now.
Higher we went, Baker now sitting serenely in the distance in front of us. Then a curve around the west side, the snow melted out enough to allow a clear switch-backipath to the old, but very well taken care of lookout.
The vistas at the top were spectacular- a 360 of peaks and valleys at all compass points. We relaxed in the greenery for some time, struggling between the desire to take in with our eyes as much as we possibly could of all of the majesty surrounding us; and the desire to close them and feel the warmth on our eyelids, the softness of the air swirling around us- lulling us into slumber, wrapped in Mother Nature's comforting arms. Zzzzzzzz...
Back lakeside for Happy Hour, it was hot enough for a bit of a dip, followed by more lounging, until the clouds rolled in and nudged us to our cooking rock; where we had a great dinner that included sweet corn bought in Lynden the day before- Yum!
This night, the bugs seemed much more ferocious than before, swarming into the evening. So, after sitting and watching the nightly parade (in the morning and at night, campers would drive in their vehicles over to the outhouse across the road from us), we decided to each turn in with a good book, and rest up for another Baker-area adventure the next morning.