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David and Karen 07-18-2004 08:09 PM

Mt. Baker: Damfino Lakes & High Divide
Every year we seem to climb higher & hike farther than the one before - that is until this year. In 2004 we have needed to take it easy as increasing responsibility & ‘old age' are finally taking their toll.

Consider the fact that 10 minutes after leaving the house yesterday the wife asks if we packed the Graduated Neutral Density Filter -we didn't, thus all the pictures we would have taken that day would be ruined. I double checked all our other camera equipment and discovered another glaring omission - the tripod. We had a nice little 'discussion' about whose responsibility it was to pack the tripod and the checking continued. No trekking poles either, and the final straw… no lunch! So we turned around and started again.

Made it all the way to the new nuclear bomb scanners when we ran into another snag. The wife forgot to bring her driver's license or any other photo ID. We are very grateful to the US customs officer who was able to use common sense to determine that we didn't plan to hatch any nefarious plans against the government during our stay, unfortunately on the return trip our Canadian counterpart wasn't so understanding.

Not appearing to have learned our lesson we were ten minutes down the trail before we realised we had left the Graduated Neutral Density Filter behind again! Not wanting all our pictures to be ruined I had to run all the way back to retrieve it. What we had remembered to bring was a bunch of snow gear; gaiters & Gore-Tex pants but they amounted to just dead weight as the snow reported on the forest service web site was non-existent.

I had done this trail back in the pre-wife days and from what I remembered there was a nasty approach road and thick meadows with waist high flowers that choked the trail and soaked you as you hiked. What I don't remember was any views as we had lousy weather that day. With the forecast in doubt this weekend it seemed like the perfect hike because views were not paramount to having a worthwhile experience here. Well either my memory is lousy or a lot has changed over the years. The approach road was pretty good, the flowers were quite modest (although in all fairness they have barely had a week to grow) and the trail is quite broad with evidence of recent maintenance everywhere. The views however stole the show - Shuksan & Baker in their entirety backed by a crystal clear blue sky.

This is the kind of trail where there isn't really a destination and we just explored wandering on & off a number of trails to the vicinity of Welcome Pass. No matter how many times we have come here we never seem to tire of the Mt. Baker area. Lucky for us the trails are not too difficult and we will be able to hobble along them long after our knees give out - and with the encroaching senility they will seem fresh every time.

Pictures are up on our web site now and I should note - not a single one takes advantage of a Graduated Neutral Density Filter!

Happy Hiking!


mick range 07-18-2004 08:43 PM

Wow,nice pics,David and Karen:)I must confess I've done very little in the area,though I know it's beautiful.

Hiker Boy 07-18-2004 09:01 PM

Nice. That is a trail that is still on my to do list.

"Function is beauty"

RickB 07-18-2004 10:40 PM

Wonderful shots, David and Karen, with or without the filter. What a difference a week makes. Last weekend we drove to the same trailhead but instead of doing the Damfino Lakes/High Divide we turned left at the junction half a mile in and hiked the Canyon Ridge trail. It was in the rain and some fog, but the trail is very pleasant and full of different meadows with lots of flowers. A week ago there was snow at hand above 1500m. This Canyon Ridge trail has the advantage of endless ridge wandering, flowers and pleasant views of neighbouring mountains, but not the spectacle of any heavily glaciated peaks in the immediate neighbourhood. There may have been good views of Baker in clear weather, but I doubt it due to the High Divide area being higher and between you and Baker.

It also features modest vertical gains because you leave the car at 1300 meters. And there are few crowds so this trip might be good to think about if you are in the area. I have hiked a fair bit in the Baker area over the last 20 years, but had never done this one before so it was a pleasant addition to the list of nice hikes.

One thing to remember if you go hiking in the Baker area, aside from photo id and evidence of citizenship at the border, is that most trailheads require a parking permit. So stop by at the Ranger Station just east of Glacier on Hwy 542 and pick one up. I think the day pass is US$5.

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