74 – Chain Lakes Loop

We were not sure which trail we would hike as we drove to Mount Baker, but we thought maybe it would be the Chain Lakes Loop Trail – if the cloud cover persisted. Maybe, though, a different trail – if it was clear. Still cloudy as we drove through the little town of Glacier, so Chain Lakes it was. Parking at Artist Point, we began at the Chain Lakes/Ptarmigan Ridge trailhead. We followed the Chain Lakes trail around several alpine lakes and on up to Herman’s Saddle, then down to the Bagley Lakes Loop Trail. Once at the Bagley Lakes, we would hike out to Heather Meadows, and then complete our loop by working our way back up to Artist Point.

Chain Lakes trailhead . . .

The beginning of the trail took us past step-like columns of basalt that had been formed by ancient volcanic activity as we hiked around the base of Table Mountain, a dramatic andesite plateau, and on into a cloud of fog.

Along the trail . . .

The wildflowers were at their prime, and I thought the moisture from that fog made these lupines look as if they had been coated with sugar.

Lupines . . . water droplets from fog

Noticing a cold-looking blue color in the ice at the edge of a lake from up on a ridge, the trail dropped down to the shore of Mazama, the first in the series of alpine lakes our trail would pass.

Mazama Lake . . .

Stepping from stone to stone as we crossed a gentle flowing stream, we continued on to the next lake.

On to the next lake . . . stream crossing

Gaining in elevation, at times the trail was a large field of snow.

(pic by Kent) . . . trekking through snow field

Before long, we reached Iceberg Lake. Aptly named, with Table Mountain on the right, note the color of some of those icebergs.

(pic by Kent) . . . at Iceberg Lake – Table Mountain backdrop

Next up was Hayes Lake. Lovely!

Hayes Lake . . .

Continuing along the trail, we climbed up and around to gain a great view of the other end of Iceberg Lake – and yet a different angle of Table Mountain.

Looking back to Iceberg Lake . . .

Continuing to gain in elevationin, we trekked over more fields of snow until we reached Herman’s Saddle.

(pic by Kent) . . . approaching Herman’s Saddle, Mount Shuksan backdrop

Here we are, on Herman’s Saddle with Mount Shuksan coming out of the clouds just behind us, and a tiny Upper Bagley Lake barely visible deep in the valley below.

Mount Shuksan . . . from Herman’s Saddle

It was beautifully scenic as we followed the Chain Lakes Trail on down until we had joined the Bagley Lakes Loop Trail.

Along the trail . . . below Herman’s Saddle

There are two Bagley Lakes, an upper and lower, and as it sounds, the Bagley Lakes Loop Trail goes around both lakes. Here is Kent, on the bridge that crosses Upper Bagley Lake.

Bridge over Upper Bagley Lake . . .

In places, the trail was barely melted out. We encountered this collapsed snow bridge, and were able to easily work our way through the clumps of snow without any danger.

Collapsed snow bridge . . . near Upper Bagley Lake

Still other snow bridges along the trail looked as if they were about to collapse. Always offering me a hand when it was my turn to cross, Kent, an experienced hiker and climber, checked the condition of these potentially dangerous areas first to make sure they were safe before we continued.

Snow bridge . . . along Upper Bagley Lake

Although we did this hike in reverse order from what is described on this Washington Trails Association trail description, for more information and directions to the Chain Lakes Trail, go here –http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/chain-lakes-3. The hike is a long – and steep – climb when approached from Upper Bagley Lake, so by completing this hike in the opposite direction, not only did it feel a little easier, we also enjoyed an almost constant view of Mount Shuksan and Upper Bagley Lake on our hike down from Herman’s Saddle. Very beautiful!

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