Hike to Watson Lakes and Anderson Butte 7/23

14 of us drove up to the Mt Baker area and hiked to a couple of lakes in a dramatic setting with waterfalls cascading down from the surrounding cliffs and the rugged snow-covered peaks above.

It was cloudy as we left Seattle, but soon patches of blue appeared in the sky as we approached Baker Lake. We crossed that lake's dam on a one-lane road with a long drop-off on one side and then began climbing up a forest service road, which gained 3700 feet above the lake . As the road rose above the forest, an ethereal view of surrounding snow-covered peaks sparkling in sunlight appeared as a layer between clouds above and the foggy valley below.

The trailhead parking lot had loads of space unlike the overflowing ones of popular trails closer to Seattle. The trail started in a hemlock forest but soon we were crossing pretty alpine meadows where patches of snow still lingered. After a couple of ups and downs, the trail started descending towards the Watson Lakes . As we began approaching them, a startling view was soon revealed of shimmering blue lakes below steep cliffs dropping down from the jagged, snow-covered peaks of the North Cascades. Alongside the trail, valerian, salmon berry bushes, and mountain heather were blooming, adding a colorful foreground. Some great pics of this beautiful setting have already been posted on the OV website—thanks, Bob!

We contoured around the first lake and then found a wonderful spot for lunch on a promontory jutting into the second lake, with a waterfall coming down the slope across from us. Although there was still snow along some of the lake's shore, two of our group did swim in it; We heard a scream as one plunged into the chilly waters! Since they swam au naturel, our timing at the lake was good: We had seen a fair number of families and youth groups hiking out from having camped at the lakes, and we saw more coming in as we hiked back, but we saw no one else at the lake while we were there.

On the way back, we hiked up the steep side trail to Anderson Butte, climbing 600 vertical feet in .6 miles! Up there we enjoyed nice views of a lot of the North Cascades. Nearby Mt Shuksan and Baker remained cloaked in clouds, but we did get some glimpses of Baker's summit through brief clearings in the clouds. From there, it didn't take long to get back to our vehicles and some well earned cold-drinks and home-baked goodies. From the road leaving the trailhead, we finally saw Mt. Shuksan in its full glory. All in all, it was a gorgeous day in a stunning setting!

Participants: Mike J, Phil B, Parker and Paul W, Bob C, Stephen D, Andrew K, Rob S, Jason, Pepe S, Michael D, Rob G and Clair.

Submitted: 07/26/17
Article By: Himes, Rex

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