Backpacking: Baker Lake and Some Scrambles

Last time we were in Skoki we did the traditional loop, hiking in to Merlin Medows and then to Baker Lake. This time we hiked into Baker Lake, set up camp and spent time exploring without packs. Both trips were great, but I liked this one a little better – exploring without a heavy pack is always a win!

We have sort of an annual trip thing going – for the past few years we’ve picked a weekend near the middle of August as our “adult backpacking trip”. This year our chosen weekend happened to correspond to my birthday – and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend it than in the mountains. We left Friday morning around 8:45 am and arrived at a packed trailhead. We managed to squeeze the van into a spot and headed out on the trail. The first part of the trail is a fire road and like last time it was just as boring. Luckily we had friends to catch up with so the 4 km passed fairly quickly.

Then we worked our way through the trees to Boulder Pass where we stopped for lunch. It was a little buggy so it was nice to stop where there was a breeze.

Then it was a quick walk along the shore of Ptarmigan Lake to Baker Lake. The campground is on the far end of the lake but it is an easy walk along the shore to get there. This was our first (and only) backpacking trip of the season so I was pretty happy to get my pack off and settle into camp.

The tent sites are really close together and not private at all, but we grabbed two sites side by side that had a view out onto the lake and set up our tents. And even though I don’t love the camping area, the eating area and the area down by the lake are perfect. We took our snacks, crossed over the outlet stream and found ourselves some lovely rocks to lounge on for the rest of the afternoon.

We didn’t sleep very well (even though it was the perfect temperature in our tent and my new NEMO camping pillow is awesome) since there was a loud party happening at the eating area (which was clearly heard from the sleeping area). They finally shut it down around midnight but we still didn’t get the best rest.

We woke up Saturday morning to beautiful clear skies – the perfect day to scramble up a mountain. We don’t do a lot of scrambling, but we really should because exploring off the beaten track is the best. We decided to scramble Brachiopod Mountain, which is located across the lake from the campground. We crossed the outlet stream and then followed the lake shore to the shoulder where we hiked up a creek bed and then onto the mountain.

Its a scramble, so there isn’t a path – just a large slope of scree right up to the top. We all carefully began picking our way up the mountain.

None of us actually made it to the top (I clambered within a short climb of the top, which was close enough) but we all made it high enough to take in the views.

We met up on the ridge and lunched with views out across the whole area.

Then we scrambled our way down across the ridge to check out what was further along. Surprise, more mountains! We sat in the sun some more while we watched some other scramblers tackle some of the near-by peaks.

Then it was finally time to head back to camp. We followed a slightly more direct path and got back into camp in time to soak up a little more relaxation time by the creek.

We had another not so restful night in the campground – the large group that we were sharing it with seemed to have forgotten that there were other people there and did a lot of yelling between tents well into the evening.

We woke up Sunday morning to cold but beautifully clear skies. We packed up and headed back the way we’d come. Again, there is nothing more soul destroying than a fire road at the end of a hike but at least this one was down hill. We made it back to the van and ate lunch in the parking lot. Then it was back to Calgary to get ready for our next adventure!

For the next trip – I’d definitely plan to have a middle day where we scrambled or hiked without packs. It was awesome to be that far into the mountains and then get to explore without carrying everything around with us.



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