Summer Adventure - Paddle to the Sea

Category: Outdoors

We finally had a successful summer adventure last year on our Mountain to Mountain climb/bike/climb trip, so Chris and I were excited to cook up another crazy idea. I had been scouting out the area around Mt. Baker for awhile and decied that I thought we could link up a route all the way from the summit, essentially following the path of glacial run-off all the way to the ocean. So that is what we decided to do.

After dropping our car and kayaks in Concrete, WA and hitching a ride with some friends of Chris up to the Mt. Baker trailhead, we set out in the early evening. Our plan was to hike the approach and camp out at the top of the lateral moraine and then attempt the summit the next day.

Mt. Baker sunset

We woke up early and headed out. We were able to leave all of our camping stuff behind so we could travel much lighter.

Chris' silhouette against Mt. Baker

We climbed and climbed, weaving around crevasses and dead-ends. We were a bit late in the season, so it was really warm and there were very few snow bridges. We eventually go up to about 8500 feet before we decided that the conditions just were not good for a summit push. We were a little bummed, but still had lots of adventure ahead of us.

Chris crossing a crevasse

After we descended from Mt. Baker, it was a long dusty walk down from the trailhead. We camped out high above Baker Lake and would continue down to the lake and the next leg of the journey tomorrow.

The route down to the lake took us past an old abandoned dam, lots of incredible waterfalls, and an old abandoned power station that was covered in brush and moss - felt like stumbling upon a lost Inca ruin.

Derelict dam

Abandoned power station

As we neared the bottom, we continued to follow the run-off right as it meandered into the lake.

Chris wading the final stretch befor the lake

Once we arrived at the lake, it was time to break out the inflatable rafts. We only had to paddle about two miles down the lake to the dam where we would take out and walk to our kayaks.

One-man raft

The rafts were a bit tiny and the paddling was a chore. Eventually the wind came up and was blowing so strong that we were literally having to paddle hard just to stay in place. At that rate, we would never make it down the lake, so we headed for shore to regroup. We tried walking along the shore, but many places were just rock cliffs or too thick with vegetation.

As time was slipping away and the wind only getting stronger, the waves were getting bigger and bigger and we decided that we needed to take more drastic action. We tried to hail a passing boat, but nearly everyone had already gotten off of the lake. Finally we were able to flag down a couple of guys who were out spraying weeds (Weed Board shout-out!) and they had a flatbed boat that they literally drove right up on the shore and rescued us.

Within minutes, we were down at the dam and profusely thanking them for their help. We packed up our rafts and started walking down into town where our kayaks awaited.

We switched gear and eddyed out into current of the Skagit River. The first day was just a couple of hours of paddling and then we made camp on a sandy beach.

Kayak camp on the banks of the Skagit

Filtering water in the fading light

We paddled all day the next day and it was fun to see the landscape slowly change from forested wilderness into civilized suberbia as we neared the I-5 corridor. We had one more night of stealth kayak camping and then the next morning entered the marshy Skagit River delta.

It was a maze of channels but our navigation was spot-on and we eventually reached the rocky tide break wall where we would offically enter the sound.

Passing through a hole to the sea

After that, it was a short paddle up the Swinomish Channel to La Conner where we finished our trip. Other than a couple of small mishaps, it was another successful summer adventure.

Smiling all the way to the end

Previous Summer Adventures:




Windstorm, fallen tree, happy ending

We had a big windstorm blow a tree down but made the best of it

Read more »


Ranger Tug R23 Solar Upgrade

Upgrading our solar setup for energy independence

Read more »


Ranger Tug R23 End of Summer mods & San Juan trip

A few small upgrades for the boat and an end-of-summer trip to the San Juan islands

Read more »


Ranger Tug R23 SmartPlug & Galvanic Isolator

Replacing the shore power plug with a SmartPlug and adding a galvanic isolator

Read more »


Ranger Tug R23 Pot Puller

Installing a Discovery Bay Power Hauler Crab/Shrimp Pot Puller

Read more »

More Posts >