Ain't nuthin like ridin' a fine horse in a new country - Augustus McCrae – Lonesome Dove

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Baker Lake Ride!

What my GPS recorded
When my friend Patty mentioned on Facebook that she was looking for someone to ride the Baker Lake Trail with her, I jumped at the chance!  We started off early & arrived after about a 90 min. drive, at a wide space on the forest road where we could park the trailer.  The bugs greeted us in Force!  Drawing blood the instant they landed, Khari soon looked like she had red spots all over her body!  They continued to bite even as I rolled on more heavy duty bug repellant!  

Plenty of motivation to get out on the trail!  It was so stunningly spectacular that I forgot to turn on my GPS - until we were in about half a mile.  It was already10:30 a.m. & we expected to do a lot of trail - even if most of our conversation consisted of oohing & awing at the incredible huge trees & greenery that surrounded us!
10:42 a.m. About a 1/2 mile in~
Our plan was to ride the entire 14 +/-miles to the top & suspension bridge then return.  We soon found that there was No Way we would be able to accomplish that!  By the time we came to the first of the Many bridges over huge deep crevasses, we realized that this was no trail to be ridden at anything but a walk.   The bridges were well-build & sturdy, most not slippery - but only maybe 3 ft. wide - with incredible drop offs - some on Both sides.  Daunting to say the least!   Khari - with some encouragement - took the lead & started over - nostrils flared, neck arched & cocking her head to the side!  I would spot some Tera fir-ma on the far side of each & prayed!  :-)  After the first few, if bridges like that can become routine, they did - until we came to the BIG one!  It was so long that it actually made a turn right over the middle of the deepest part! 

Once over that one - the trail wound through the stands of trees & the footing was good, if narrow.  We tried trotting for a bit, but hadn't gone far - when Shiny fell into a hole, his front feet dropping in about 18".  He lifted himself right out - but that was the end of our attempt to increase our pace.

Next...  the crossing at Anderson Creek.  I'd been warned by Linda that it was a big, rushing, cold & large rock type crossing.  (I didn't tell Patty :-)  The water wasn't as high as I'd expected & the crossing had silted in some I think, from the last time Linda had seen it.
11:14 a.m. Anderson Creek crossing - gnarly at the far side
It didn't look too bad...  We waded in & by the middle, were up to stirrup height.  At the far side I could see a very deep hole just before the only place the horses had to exit the river.  There was also a very large rock, with a long jagged edge that faced out the way the horses would have to move over it.   Roots sticking out from the bank & about a 2' rise up to the trail.  I got off mid-river & landed in water up to my knees.   My long reins came in handy!  I scrambled over the rocks & put my back against a tree while Khari got a drink.  I used my stick to show her where to drop in to the hole.  She carefully stepped down into the deep water, which came up to the base of her neck.  Lifting her front legs up, she reared up & over the rock & roots & onto the trail!  Beautiful job!  Patty's boy Shiny - did the same - both very graceful & we were out!
11:19 - View of Mt. Baker
It wasn't much farther until we came to a sign pointing to the Maple Grove camp on the lake!  We decided it was time for a lunch break!  There was plenty of fountain grass along the shore, so the horses enjoyed some grazing. 
12:30 p.m. Baker Lake from Maple Grove
With the thought that going back would take less time - we decided to go on & try to make it to what we thought might be at least half-way before turning back.

2:30 p.m. Mt. Baker & Baker Lake
The views were just stunning.  The trail hugged the edge of the lake as far as we went with steep drop-offs straight down to the blue-green water of the lake.  Finally - we were stopped by a very large tree that had fallen across the trail.  Steep on the uphill side & straight down on the other.  Too big to jump.  We made the decision to turn back.  Tough to do!  
Khari & Shiny
As to our mounts...  Khari did not want Shiny to touch her!  He on the other hand - thought she was Wonderful!  :-)   The way back was just as beautiful as the way up!  Except for those steep drop-offs down to the water - that were now on our right.  
Straight DOWN!
We'd about forgotten about the bridges by the time the first one came up!   No, they hadn't disappeared & looked even scarier as we approached!  Khari would hesitate, then then lead the way.  We did come upon a nice lady hiking who was very surprised to see horses on the trail!  Khari was surprised to see her & cocked her head sideways :-)  The lady cocked her head sideways too :-)  We chatted then continued on - returning to the trailer about 4:30.  The bugs had Not gone away, so we loaded up fast & decided to go up north to check out the large suspension bridge at the far end of the trail. 

Suspension Bridge - far end
I'd left my camera in my saddle bag, so I didn't get a picture, but here it is - stolen off the net.  Very doable with horses!  We both plan to go again, in the fall when the bugs are better & to see the fall colors.  Hoping to talk Butch into driving the rig up to the top to meet us!  Dinner, beer, yes!
Looking due west at our route~
The Google Earth image above, gives an idea of the twists & turns of the trail.  Great ride, Great Day!

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