Mt. Baker, Washington


This year Obsidian Summer Camp was near Mt. Baker in Washington’s North Cascade wilderness. Ninety campers with varying levels of hiking experience ranging in age from 14 to 86 enjoyed outdoor activities surrounded by magnificent scenery – rivers, lakes, creeks, ponds, wildflowers, waterfalls, wildlife, and Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan. The weather was glorious – mostly clear and in the high 40s at night, low 70s during the day.

Mt. Baker rises to 10,778 ft. It’s an active volcano in the rugged Cascade Volcanic Arc and after Mount Rainier, the most heavily glaciated of the Cascade Range volcanoes. Mt. Baker’s other distinctions include being the northern-most Cascade volcano in the US, youngest volcano in the Mt. Baker volcanic field, and third-highest mountain in Washington State – after Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams.

Mt. Shuksan rises 9,127 ft. to the east of Mt. Baker, about 12 miles south of the Canadian border. The mountain’s name means “high peak” and its highest point is three-sided Summit Pyramid.

Our enthusiastic day hikes were in groups of 12 or less and rated as easy, moderate, or difficult, depending on the distance and elevation involved. My favorite was Chain Lakes Loop which started at Artist Point and traversed the southern part of Table Mt. to Ptarmigan Ridge. We enjoyed the hike on a sunny day with breathtakingly clear views of Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan! The hike involved passing several gorgeous alpine lakes including Bagley, Mazama, Iceberg, and Hayes. Iceberg and Hayes Lakes are next to each other, separated by a small isthmus. We saw marmots playing, crossed snow-covered meadows, flowing rocky creek beds, basins of colorful wildflowers, and marvelled at one delightful mountain vista after another – BIG smile!

It’s been over 7 years since my last wilderness camping experience – an African safari in 2005 – but spending time sleeping in a tent and taking sun showers was not difficult. The Obsidians are a well-organized, capable group of outdoor enthusiasts ). Everyone was assigned camp chores.

Our cooks – Ross and Kate – prepared delicious gourmet meals. After-dinner activities included bonfires by the Nooksack Riverbed where we gazed at abundant stars, made s’mores, listened to trip reports of the day’s hiking adventures, and one evening participated in a hilarious traditional roast of current Obsidian President – Elle Weaver.

Mt. Baker 2012 was my first Obsidian Summer Camp – a fantastic experience and priceless memory!

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