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.
I was out of the tent by 6:40 am and quickly 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 reflecting in the lake in the soft morning light. When I had finished taking photos I continued onto the bear hang to collect our food and to prepare breakfast. The the water was boiling just before 7 am.
It was an easy hike back to the car. Just retracing our route from yesterday. The only elevation gain comes at the beginning of the hike and is fairly minimal at only 120 m. We were not in much of a rush to pack up quickly instead lingering to enjoy the morning. We had the tent all packed up just after 8 am. We then spent the next 30 minutes just admiring the lake before getting our return journey started at 8:30 am.
We headed out of the campground and picked up the same pace as yesterday nice and steady with plenty of pausing to take in the views. Laura was very understanding and patient with me as I continually stopped to photograph the lake. It took us 27 minutes to hike the 1.3 km to the end of the lake a very pedestrian pace.
After reaching the end of Baker Lake the trail begins 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 quick and deep in the trees finishing with a 4 km walk on a gravel road. We sat on a rock and ate chocolate while soaking in the the amazing day with the blue skies and lakes and extended our time in the amazing alpine environment of the Canadian Rockies.
With it being so early we decided to 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 spied something white far out in Ptarmigan Lake. I thought may have been a bird, a swan perhaps, but I was not sure. I took a series of photos but the white spec really did not seem to be doing much of anything.
Shortly after leaving Ptarmigan Lake as we headed down through Rockfall Pass we ran into a couple hiking with 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 the day to hike to a couple of lakes and with the use of an inflatable raft to go check on their water monitoring equipment. The white spec that I had been observing was one of their water monitoring stations. 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.
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 too close and low in behind Whitehorn Mt (the Lake Louise ski hill) which would block our view of Mt Temple. Just a few minutes after leaving the pass I found a cell phone lying in the dirt at the side of the trail. I picked it up and as we had only seen the one family we figured whoever had lost the phone had probably been hiking 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.
Just before Halfway Hut we past a large group of Parks Canada employees. They were off duty and headed to one of the Wardens Cabins for a few days of back country exploring. We asked about the phone but they had met no one who was missing a phone and recommended that we take the phone 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 stretch on the gravel road. I was happy to be on the road early as I figured that hiking on the road would get hot in the afternoon as the sun reflected off the white gravel.
As we started down the road we passed the water people’s car. Since they were doing field research they get a key to the gate which blocks the road at the trailhead and get 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 up (it was an iPhone and I use an Android) in the off chance that someone would call. It was not more than a few minutes after I had turned the phone on when it rang! I was speachless when I looked at the phone screen and I recognized the name of the caller. It was name of kid I used to coach in speed skating for 10 years. Needless to say she was very happy that we had found the phone it belonged to her boyfriend. We arranged to meet in the parking lot at the plaza in Lake Louise to exchange 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 but brief view of the back of Lake Louise and could just make out the Chateau Lake Louise in the foreground. We arrived back at the car at 12:25 pm it had taken us just over 2 hrs to hike back from Ptarmigan Lake and it was less than 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 Samaritan. All in all a fantastic trip. Baker Lake is a destination that I cannot 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 at a picnic table under the trees.