Baker Lake Flash Back

BAKERLAKEA couple years before I was born, my Grandfather and Grandmother Tarr (Moms parents) opened a resort at Baker Lake in Washington state. It was a fishing resort called Tarr’s Resort. It would be the central gathering point during the summer for the family through 1975, when my grandfather died there on the eve of selling it. It was rustic yet sparkling clean and tidy. There were “old” cabins from a location up lake that Grandpa hauled down to the new location and he also built several new cabins. In all, there were 13 cedar walled units and tons of camping spots. As kids it was a great place to explore the woods, learn about bears, pick huckleberries and swim in the glacier fed waters. A typical memory I have of “the lake” is gathering there

Camp Sites

Camp Sites

with extended family. As the adults reveled and told stories and ate and drank, we kids played outside late into the night. We would hear the voices of the adults as we scurried around the area hunting bullfrogs and creeping through the woods on the look out for the bears that frequently came in to get food from campers. It is where my love of being in the woods began.


Charley Tarr. My beloved Grandfather circa 1972

We were given much latitude while there. My grandfather was not a fan of wimpy sniveling kids. He was a tough guy logger with a huge sense of humor. I loved every minute I spent with him. I would help him make “fish food” that campers bought to chum the fish into biting their line. I dug worms, repaired buildings, bailed and cleaned boats, pumped gasoline into five gallon cans for the vast amount of time there was no generator running to power the place.  Grandma was quiet and worked nonstop. I helped her clean cabins, make meals, bake pies, pick berries, pull weeds, wash cloths in an old wringer washer and do the dishes. Hard work was not lacking in my family and it is one of the lessons for which I am most grateful .

The last time I was at the lake was in 2007.  By then the Forest Service had taken over the resort and ran it. The amenities were dilapidated, but you could not take away the beauty of the lake. And sitting at the campfire with over 20 family members I had enjoyed that place wit was one of the best things ever. And when I went away, I was contented by the experiences there that had formed part of who I am.

My brother went to climb Mount Baker this week. He had no desire to go to the location where the resort once was. His pilgrimage would take him up on the mountain that looked over us all those years.  And while epic rain at base camp meant lots of snow up higher and too much likelihood of avalanche to attempt the summit, he was excited to have been there battling the elements.

There are places we go in our lives that become such a part of us that it is impossible to remove the memory of them. The smells and sounds are conjurable upon demand. Tarr’s Resort, Baker Lake is my childhood in so many ways. With the passing of so many who made it that, I find myself traveling back there in my mind ever so much more. If only to hear and see them all again in my mind’s eye.

About WhelanTrek

The mountains are in my blood and Everest has been a symbol to so many areas of my life. I blog about adventures and life in between.

Posted on July 23, 2014, in Hiking and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Looking forward to hearing about your Trek


  2. This is so beautiful. While we didn’t have a place like this when I was a child, my children and grandchildren do now. I hope it is as meaningful to them as Tarr’s Resort is to you.


  3. Loved reading that!


  4. Riding motorbikes, Rin Annie! And dump runs, and milk with ice crystals, and fish guts on the dock, and pollywog hunting on the boat ramp, and running the fallen tree over Swift Creek, and pretending the propane tank was a horse, and the water tower overflowing, and and and….!


    • Catching bullheads and starting the generator and playing on the water truck and climbing the swing set and eating cheeseburgers and climbing up in the old barn and driving the shovel and using the old adding machine and eating graham crackers and sleeping on old cots and the Shasta trailer and the bear rugs and and and!


  5. My mother was a dental for Dr. Tarr, son of Charlie, back in the late sixties or early seventies. We took a vacation at (then) Tarr’s resort and it was the best time my family ever spent together.
    We stayed in one of the cabins, and at 9:00 at night, the generator was turned off so there were no more lights or anything else. But around 10:00 or 11:00, thunderstorms would roll in, every night, and we could watch the lightning flashing and hear the thunder crashing all around the base in the lake side in. We even watched several forest fires start by the lightning, but it was raining so hard, it put them out before they could burn for a minute. The fishing was fantastic, the people were all wonderful, and Charlie let my brother and I play garbage man with him right before we left for home. We jumped on the fenders of the trailer, and went around to all the cabins and picked up the garbage. Too much fun. I’ve wondered about what happened to the place, and now it breaks my heart a little bit to find out what’s happened to it.


  6. I have a coffee mug my parents gave me… Tarr’s Resort Baker Lake, Washington! I spent mearly every weekend of every summer from the mid 1970’s until the day I left for the Army in 1991 at Baker Lake! As a family, we love and always will cherish Baker Lake! After all, mom and dad are there always now… we spread there ashes at Horse Shoe Cove!


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