The Rambling Writer Cools Off in Mt. Baker’s Chain Lakes

Join Thor, Bear dog, and me as we hike the Ptarmigan Ridge trail beneath Mt. Baker and cool off in brisk, clear mountain lakes.

It was one of those “life happens” weeks, but we managed a quick escape between those “happenings” and waves of wildfire smoke that have been smudging our skies in this summer of heat waves. We send best wishes to all our friends suffering through the terrible fires in Eastern Washington, Oregon, and California, not to mention the droughts throughout the south and west. Once again, we feel humbly blessed to live here in the mostly green Pacific Northwest, though even here we are on high fire alert now. So let’s take a deep breath of coolness, greenery, and mountain wildflowers.

From Artist Point at the end of the Mt. Baker Highway, the Ptarmigan Ridge trail heads toward Mt. Baker around the rim of a steep rockfall.

Snowmelt cascades off of Table Mountain water grasses and blooms.

At the fork in the trail, we head right and downhill to the first of the mountain Chain Lakes. Bear dog takes every opportunity to drink from streams and lie in the water, or roll in snow patches. He’s had his summer belly-coat trim and undercoat comb-out, so his long fur is actually insulating him from the heat, as we explain countless times to other hikers who worry that he is suffering. He does better than we do!

The snow is almost gone from the trail leading down to the lakes across another rockfall/marmot condo. Once more, Bear dog hears the whistling call of the wild, but he listens when we tell him he can’t chase.

Mazama is the first lake (actually two small lakes) and the shallowest, a lovely swimming spot.

Pushing on toward Galena Lake, we cross my favorite magical stream with a peekaboo glimpse of Table Mountain. Bear dog, of course, takes another soak. He always politely declines to swim, but loves to loll in the water wherever we encounter it, whether at the mountains or the seashore.

We are ready for a picnic and several swims in beautiful, crystal clear Galena Lake. (also top photo)

We were blessed with rare solitude and quiet this day, as we basked in the sunshine between swims, and listened to nothing but the voices of the wind and a sweet bird call across the lake. Ah, serenity. We reminded each other to soak it all up for a “rainy day,” as we gave thanks for the privilege of being guests in the beautiful wilderness.

A different view of Mt. Baker on the way back:

And a few more wildflowers:

May we humans and Mother Nature thrive together in harmony! Blessed be.


You will find The Rambling Writer’s blog posts here every Saturday. Sara’s latest novel from Book View Cafe is available in print and ebook: The Ariadne Connection.  It’s a near-future thriller set in the Greek islands. “Technology triggers a deadly new plague. Can a healer find the cure?”  The novel has received the Chanticleer Global Thriller Grand Prize and the Cygnus Award for Speculative Fiction. Sara has recently returned from a research trip in Greece and is back at work on the sequel, The Ariadne Disconnect. Sign up for her quarterly email newsletter at  




The Rambling Writer Cools Off in Mt. Baker’s Chain Lakes — 6 Comments

  1. I always enjoy your posts about your nature walks, and the photos of the beauty scenery and flowers.
    They are a reminder of some very good and positive things.

  2. So very refreshing to the spirit, especially down here, knowing the worst months of summer are still to come.

    Glad to discover that a black dog is actually protected by his coat, instead of being fried by the sun!

    • Thanks again, Sherwood! Yes, we get a lot of people worrying about Bear dog. My sister, who shows dogs, tells me a study of dogs with his type of coat show that if you trim the top coat, the skin will be 10 degrees hotter in the sun. It can be deadly if they are closely trimmed.