Posts Tagged ‘Enchantments’

Round II

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

After last Saturday, I felt like I had a little unfinished business in the Enchantments.  I still wanted to hike the whole trail in a day.  Eric mentioned that he was interested in it and asked if I wanted to join him.  The forecast was terrible but I couldn’t resist.

It was obviously going to be one of those soggy NW days that we talk so much about.  But there is something refreshing about a walk in the rain.  It reminds you that a little discomfort is important to keep life in balance.

After a couple of hours we came to the first lake (Nada Lake).  At this elevation the leaves on the underbrush was starting to change but the trees will stay green all winter.

From Nada Lake the trail rises a little to Snow Lake.  At that point the map shows the trail transitioning from a solid line to a dashed line.  We quickly learned why.  The trail became a scramble up hopelessly steep granite slabs and boulders.  Even with cairns to guide the way we got turned around and lost.

The prize of all of the struggle is arriving at Lake Viviane.  This marked the beginning of the middle enchantments.  The area is high alpine in the truest sense of the word.  Only the most robust vegetation can survive.  Mostly the scenery is just granite wedged between more granite.  There is series of small lakes, each one a few feet higher than the next with water cascading between them.

Once into the middle enchantments, the wind really picked up.  We put on the last of our clothing, buttoned down the hatches and pushed on towards Aasgard Pass.  It felt like a scene out of Lord of the Rings.  The harsh mountain environment, the heavy wind, and the sleet and snow reminded me of just how fragile I am.

Finally, after 8 hours of hiking we arrived at Aasgard Pass.  The snow was a mixed blessing.  I would have prefered pleasant sunny weather, on the other hand, winter is near.

The hike down to Colchuck Lake is punishing.  You lose 2200 vertical feet in 0.9 miles.  But you can’t beat the scenery, you are litterally hiking next to the shear cliffs of the north face of Dragontail.

After all the rain that we had endured, the sun finally peaked through the clouds, lighting up Colchuck Lake with an impressive azure color.

After descending to Colchuck, the sun set and we hiked the last 4 miles in the dark.  There’s not much to say about that part of the trip other than the desire to be sitting in Leavenworth eating bratwurst and partaking in the oktoberfest merryment was almost overwhelming.


Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

Last Saturday I woke up early and drove to my favorite Bavarian themed American town.  Leavenworth, despite the cheesy faux Bavarian architecture, is an awesome place.  It is located in one of the most impressive natural locations in the state.  My purpose of visiting wasn’t to partake in the beginning of the Oktoberfest celebrations, rather it was to hike the Enchantments.  I had been almost completely out of commission for three weeks due to a back spasm and it was time for me to get back into the swing of things.  The Enchantments are well known for their natural beauty and the grueling hike that depending on which trailhead you start at begins at 1300′ and tops out at 7800′ roughly 10 miles later before decending to the other trailhead.  This makes a 17 mile partial loop through some of the most impressive scenery in the alpine lakes wilderness.

I had plans to hike the whole trail and hitchhike back to the car but I got a little too late of a start and decided to turn around at Snow Lake.  It was a fantastic hike nonetheless.

Here are a couple of pictures from the day.

First stop Nada Lake

Nada Lake from uptrail

The leaves are starting to change