Day 2 Baker Lake Campground to Fish Creek Parking Lot, 13.6 km, 125 m Elevation Gain, 640 m Elevation Loss, 3 hrs 55 min.
Was out of the tent by 6:40 am and snapping photos of a mirror smooth Baker Lake. Had I been up a little earlier I would have had more even light on the mountains but I was still so thrilled to see the mountains the lake in the morning light. After taking the photos I continued onto the bear hangs to collect our food and to prepare breakfast. I had the stove going and cooking the water just before 7 am.
It was an easy hike back to the car. Just retracing our route yesterday but with the only elevation at the beginning and fairly minimal at 120 m. So we were not in much of a rush to pack up quickly and leave. We had the tent all packed up just after 8 am. Then we spent the next 30 minutes just admiring the lake before getting our return journey started at 8:30am.
We headed out at 8:30 am and picked up the same pace as yesterday nice and steady and pausing to take in the views. Laura was very generous and patient with me stopping numerous times to photograph the lake. It took us 27 minutes to hike the 1.3 km to the end of the lake.
After reaching the end of Baker Lake the trail starts to climb modestly gaining the majority of the days elevation in the next 1 km. The initial part of the climb was a little wet as the trail has become the low point in the area and collects the runoff from the slopes draining Fossil Mt. While not a challenge for us in the height of summer this could be a very muddy climb in times of snow melt or rain.
We reached the junction with Deception Pass in under an hour. We had traveled only 2.6 km from our campsite at Baker Lake so our pace was not high but we were taking our time and enjoying the scenery. We arrived at the west end of Ptarmigan Lake in one hour twenty minutes covering 4.5 km from Baker Lake. It was not yet 10 am but we decided to stop and have an extended break. With a 9 km downhill hike to get back to the car the rest of the hike would be deep in the trees and would finish with a 4 km walk on a gravel road. We wanted to soak in the the amazing day with the blue skies and lakes and extend our time in the sub alpine of the Canadian Rockies.
With it being so early we decided to to just have snacks and would eat our lunch back at the car or on the way home. Snack time is always best if we have some partially melted chocolate Aero Bubbles.
The following picture was a fun little story. I could see something white far out in Ptarmigan Lake. I thought maybe it was a bird, maybe a swan, but I was not sure. I took a series of photos but the white spec really did not seem to be doing much.
Shortly after leaving Ptarmigan Lake and heading down through Rockfall Pass we ran into a couple and their daughter who Laura was good friends with through the swim club. It just happens that the couple are both Phd researchers with an interest in water quality. They were heading out for a day hike to a couple of lakes with an inflatable raft to go check on their water monitoring equipment. The white spec that I had been observing was one of water monitoring stations that they were going to head out to check. I thought that that was a great way to spend a day with your kid, hiking in the backcountry and doing some research at the same time.
We headed off at 10:20 am. As we descended through Rockfall Pass we were presented with a great view of Mt Temple. Mt Temple would pop in and out of view repeatedly until we got tool close and low in behind Whitehorn Mt (the Lake Louise ski hill) which blocked our view of Mt Temple. Just a few minutes after leaving the pass I found a cell phone lying in the dirt of the side of the trail. I picked it up and as we had not seen anyone yet I figured the people who lost the phone must be headed back to the parking lot. So I kept the phone figuring we would run into the people who owned it or we could put up a sign at the parking for “Found Phone”, the story is going to get way better.
As we descended we past a large group of Parks Canada employees. They were off duty and headed to one of the Wardens Cabins. We asked about the phone but they had met no one who was missing a phone and just told me to take it to the Parks Canada Office at Lake Louise.
We arrived at the gravel road at 11:30 am, it had taken us 1hr 10 min to walk the 5.2 km downhill stretch from Ptarmigan Lake. Now all that was left was the 4 km downhill on the road. I was happy to on the road before the afternoon as the she sun can get hot reflecting back off the white gravel of the road.
As we started down the road we passed the water people’s car. Since they were doing field research they got a key to the gate and got to drive up the road instead of walking it. Partway down the road I got the idea that we may be getting into cell phone coverage so I turned on the phone and figured out how to turn the volume in the off chance someone called. It was not more than a few minutes after I had turned the phone one when it rang! I was speachless when I looked at the phone screen as I recognized the name of the caller. It was name of kid I used to coach speed skating for 10 years. Needless to say she was very happy that we had found the phone, it belonged to her boyfriend, and she would meet us in the parking lot at the plaza in Lake Louise to pick up the phone. It is sometimes a very small world.
We had little snippets of views as we headed back to the car. We had a nice view of the back of Lake Louise and could just make out the Chateau in the foreground. We arrived back a the car at 12:25 pm it taken us just over 2 hrs to hike back from Ptarmigan Lake and just under 4 hrs since we left Baker Lake. The trip to Baker Lake was everything I had hoped for. The weather was great, we did some exploring, met some nice people and even played the good sanitarian. All in all a fantastic trip, a destination that I can recommend highly enough.
We made a quick stop in Lake Louise to return the phone and spent a few minutes catching up on life events. Then we headed home with a stop at Taylor Lake parking lot to enjoy our lunch.