Day 1 Fish Creek Parking Lot to Baker Lake Campground, 13.6 km, 640 m Elevation Gain, 125 m Elevation Loss, 4 hrs 45 min.
We were ready to leave the house just before 8:00 am. I had a thorough job of packing, so much so I could not remember packing our little stove a MSR Pocket Rocket. A quick check through the backpack and I could not find it. I phoned Ken to borrow his stove even though I was sure I had packed it. Then I took one last look through everything and found the stove safely tucked away inside my coffee cup. Crisis was averted but had wasted 20 minutes and a whole lot of stress.
We arrived at Fish Creek parking lot around 9:30 am after our delayed start and hit the trail at 9:40 am. One of my goals for this trip was to arrive at the campground early enough have some to just enjoy the area and relax in the beauty of the place we have hiked to. I have been on a few hikes where I have arrived with enough time to set up and eat before it is bedtime and I did not want that for this trip.
For such an amazing destination the hike starts out very pedestrian as you head up a service road for the ski resort for the first 3.8 km. Stay to right at the first interaction then we just followed the road until we reached the ski lifts on the backside. While the hike was very straight forwarded it was not easy. We actually gained 300 m of our total elevation gain during the hike on the service road. We did not see any other hikers but there was a group of women who where headed out trail running. They may have headed up Deception Pass to Skoki area as we did not see them again.
We made extremely good time up the road. Arriving at the ski lifts in just under one hour. A quick steep jog up a ski run and we came to the trail that would take us all the way to Baker Lake.
The trail leveled off gain only 180 m over the next 4 km. The hike was very pleasant as we walked through along the valley floor criss-crossing Corral Creek as we made our way towards the headwall of the valley.
The sun was steadily climbing up through the clear blue sky. As the trees started to thin out the views opened up in all directions.
Twenty minuttes after leaving the creek crossing we scamper up a short hill and arrive at Halfway Hut (sorry no picture). Halfway Hut is a simple little log structure built as a rest stop when supplies for Skoki Lodge were transported by horse train. The hut is located approximately halfway from the Lake Louise train station and Skoki Lodge. We had been hiking for 2 hrs 20 min and had covered 7.5 km.
The trail continued through a couple of minor creek crossings before we started to climb our last real hill of the day. Heading up to Rockfall Pass we climbed up a well graded trail gaining 135 m of elevation in 1.4 km. As we arrived at Rockfall Pass we had the clear blue expanse of Ptarmigan Lake before us and the grassy meadows of the sub alpine all around. It had taken us 2 hrs 50 min to hike 9 km, it was 12:30pm time for lunch.
The day was working out as I had hoped. The weather was spectacular blue skies but not too hot. It was 12:30 pm and we only had an easy 4.5 km to go. It was time for lunch and to enjoy the fruits of our labour (not that it had been that labourious).
After a good 30 minute break we headed off on the last leg of hike. It would be short easy climb to the junction with Deception Pass then downhill all the way to Baker Lake Campground. The trail heads around the north side of the lake. In the spring the trail could be very muddy but for us there were plenty of rocks to step on to keep us above the mud. The trial then starts a slow easy climb up towards the junction with Deception Pass.
It only took 30 minutes to reach the high point of the hike the junction to Deception Pass on the way to Skoki. On the way we had a small bit of excitement as we had to cross a very small snow field.
We arrived at the junction for Deception Pass. It is worthwhile going to the pass onto the lower slopes of Fossil Mt to get a view across the entire valley (I had done this on a previous trip) but we decided to continue onto our campground. It was easy walking all downhill to Baker Lake. We did have skirt around a couple of marmots who were using the trail as a buffet and eating horse droppings.
From the high point at the junction with Deception Pass we would actually lose 110 m of elevation as we approached the campground at Baker Lake. One of the benefits of this out and back would be that the 110 m would be the elevation gain tomorrow on the return trip. From our first view of Baker Lake it was 2.2 km to the campground which we covered easily in about 40 minutes. The campground at Baker Lake is a very small clearing with the tent sites very closely packed together. There is only one campsite which actually has a view of the lake. Arriving relatively early we were the lucky ones to snag the “penthouse” campsite with the million dollar view. It was 2:20pm in the afternoon when we had arrived.
We spent about an hour setting up the tent and storing our food on the bear pole. We then made our way out the the lake where we spent the next hour and half or so relaxing and reading by the water.
At 5 o’clock we headed off to make dinner. We were doing an experiment. I had been drying my own fruit for a while but had never done a dinner. So on my annual backcountry trip with Laura I decided to experiment with drying my own dinners. I had cooked up some tortellini and sausage along with a bit of broccoli and then dried it. I do not remember the exact value but I remember the weight of the dried meal was less than half of the originally cooked meal. That made me pretty happy. But the real question was how did it taste. We were both very pleased with the re-hydrated meal. Baker Lake has the reputation of being very buggie. When I was at Baker Lake in 2019 I counted over 20 mosquitoes on Ken’s head at one point. There were a couple of groups at the campground who were wearing mosquito head nets (I had made one for Laura) but there were very few mosquitoes on our visit and we never felt the need to cover up.
After dinner we went exploring further east from the campground. We had a fun time checking out Baker Creek which empties Baker Lake. Baker Creek flows around Brachiopod Mt and continues all the way to flow into the Bow River at the aptly named Baker Creek Chalets.
We spent about an hour exploring and made our way back to the campsite where it was time for wine and chocolate. While relaxing on our rock we were entertained by what we thought was a squirrel who swam across the water in front of us.
We got ready for bed. Put our smellables into our food bag and hung up the bear hang. The bear hang is located a reasonable distance from camp so we did not want to have to make too many trips back and forth. We both had books to read so spent the early evening in the tent reading.
One last trip to the biffy before bead introduced us to the neighbourhood porcupine. The presence of porcupines at the Baker Lake campsite is well known Porcupines love to chew so it is important to put everything inside the tent. During our stay someone had their boots chewed on by a porcupine
We would have quite an evening with our little friend. Porcupines are very active at night and make a sound that make any zombie excited but not exactly what one would describe as a peaceful sound of nature. My plan was to get to sleep reasonably early with the plan to wake up at 1:30 am to take pictures of the night sky.