Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Lake Ann (Mount Baker Hwy)

It hurts to say it...but this is most likely my last backpacking trip of the year. Maybe even my last hike until spring. The weather has turned, no question, and I just don't do snow. I might need to reconsider though, and look into snowshoes; because I'm really going to miss being out there. Feeling "one with nature"...it's so cliche', but it really does start to get in your blood. A friend described it as "feeding the soul, like nothing else can", and I really get it. I think on one level or another, everybody does.

This friend (ok, it's Rick--Melissa's husband) was saying this when I was picking up my loaner gear and asking him about Sahale Arm. (A hike he's already done, and the one I was planning on doing as the last hurrah of the year.) It's heralded as such a quintessential hike; I couldn't help but be drawn to it. But there are so many reasons why it wasn't practical; the biggest one being Debbie was counting on me to bring her on a hike she would enjoy...and 3600 feet in elevation gain on anyone's 2nd time backpacking is most likely not going to be a good time.

Lake Ann is just 8 miles round trip and only 1900 feet elevation gain. The part of me that wants to be all hard core just doesn't feel like this is worthy of an overnight trip--I think that's why I had such a hard time switching. I'm so thankful for the part of me that argues, "And what's the point if you have a crappy time?" Feeding the soul is not about clocking in miles--that would be called feeding the ego. I have a lot of thoughts about the ego, and this is not the place for it...but I do believe that when my life becomes about impressing others, I can kiss joy goodbye.

So it was off to Lake Ann, with a quick stop at REI to pick up my first real piece of my very own equipment--a headlamp. (Oh wait, I did just buy new boots...but that doesn't count because I never borrowed shoes) Thank God Debbie was with me, because of course I was going for the cheapest one they had. She pointed out 100 lumens vs 20 lumens was probably worth another $18 bucks. I think I even have a better one now than Rick has!  Ha, ha--I win! (Hey, I never said I didn't have an ego ;))

I also tried to buy my own bear bin, but they were out. We tried to stop at the ranger station to get one--they were closed. Ugh, this meant we were supposed to hang the food. I need some instruction on how to do this, because it's a lot harder than it sounds. I consoled myself (and Debbie) by saying I didn't think there were many bears in that area. Did I know what I was talking about? Of course not.
Barely out of the car and WOW

Just the drive to the trail head is a feast for the soul; if you've ever driven to Artist's Point you know what I'm talking about. It was a perfect day, and no picture can capture the vibrancy of the fall colors. (Even so, we kept trying!)

This hike starts by going down, until you end up in the most delightful valley. We kept saying how we felt we were in some rich person's backyard; the trail maintenance is exceptional, to the point of looking quite landscaped at times.
Debbie is saying, "Seems like this should lead
 to someone's barbecue, huh?"

This is where we ran across the hunters--coming off the mountain with bear heads and skins in their packs. (Debbie just had to ask.) I believe they said they shot three, and would come back later to retrieve the meat. (I'm sure they could have taught us a thing or two on how to hang food in a tree!) So much for my theory on not many bears in that area...though now there were three less. One of the guys even tried to point out a bear roaming around on a distant hill, but I think hunters can see things us normal people can't. I just hoped that bear was headed in the other direction--and I was really wishing we had a bear bin.

From the valley it was up and up until we reached a small snow field--and then the lake! This is when I knew I needed to throw all pretenses of being a bad ass hiker aside, because after those four piddly miles I was done. Take care of Debbie? Ha--I'm sure she would have been dragging my butt up Sahale Arm had I taken her there. 

But talk about worth the effort--words cannot describe. Shuksan roaring above us, (the glacier makes sounds like thunder) and Lake Ann like a mirror beneath us. It was almost unbelievably beautiful, really.
Shuksan means "roaring mountain", or "high peak", depending on who you ask

Rockin' my lumens!

Double rainbow--what does it mean?
(I know it's not a rainbow--it's a youtube reference. Look it up)

We had the whole place to ourselves--which is really rare, I hear.We ran around like a couple of giggly schoolgirls who have somehow got away with not having a chaperon. Bears could not have been further from my mind, but we did hide our food the proper distance away. Hide...not hang. Debbie, who is often the expert on everything, (sorry Deb, but you know it's true...I can tease her because she also never takes herself too seriously, which is one of the reasons why I love her ;)) tried to give me a little lesson on how to throw the bag properly. It's probably a good thing it was a major fail, because we most likely would have never gotten it out of the tree otherwise.
For those who want to know how to throw a food bag, take note
In the morning we had a guest who entertained us for about an hour. It's amazing what you find amusing when you don't have internet access or cable. (Though, I have to confess I found myself watching "Too Cute" once, which is a TV show that is literally just kittens running around. My husband sat and watched it too for awhile...which makes you wonder if there was some weird mind control thing going on, right?...Can you say 'alien broadcast'? ;))

We named him "Chip". Original, don't you think?
I am not feeding the animals...nuts just happened to fall on my shoe

Fording the river--so outdoorsy!
Both Debbie and I thought we would really struggle with the last couple miles, because this time they would be going straight up; but we didn't at all. Maybe it was because we stopped so often to take pictures. Or, maybe it was because our souls were so well fed. I think I like that a lot better. :)

Even Chip knew not to eat it
P.S. Only one hiking lesson this time:
#25--Just say "no" to dehydrated scrambled eggs. For real.


  1. Great post! Lake Ann is indeed a fantastic place and worthy of an overnight (even though an overnight might not be 'necessary').

    Consider giving snowshoeing a chance. It's so worth the effort to enjoy the blue sky of winter (on the few days we have to choose from). Great places to snowshoe at both Mt. Baker and Steven's Pass.

    You are a very entertaining blogger.

  2. Great reflection of our trip, Kel. Love you!

  3. Kelly, we're the people who found your tent poles at Lyman Lakes, Are friend Don, packed them out, so glad you got them. We live on the Eastern side of the state, have been hiking for a number of years. We are fortunate, to live on 3 thousand acres, snowshoed for two straight months last year. Guess what I'm trying to say is keep on trucking lady, and spring will be here soon. Love your Pics

    1. Oh wow--hello and thank you! I'm assuming Don got my card, and that is how you found my blog. Did you do the loop (when you found my poles) or hike out another way? 3,000 acres; that is amazing. Maybe we'll cross paths next spring--be sure to introduce yourself if we do. :)