Enchantments Backpack Trip, September 2016

The Gang celebrating after a great weekend

I spent a long weekend on an adventure with Laura and some friends up in an area called the Enchantments. It’s an alpine wilderness area just outside of Leavenworth Washington in the center of the state.Here are some pictures.

Day One

The Enchantments is a popular place. So popular in fact that you need to enter a lottery in February to get a permit to camp in certain parts. My friend, Kim won the lottery this year and invited 7 others to come with. I had never been there before but Laura had done a through hike there many years ago and always has raved about it.

You need to climb a long way to get to the Enchantments. There are two options: the long, gradual way or the short steep way. The long way is long and requires that you start at a lower trailhead so we opted for the shorter, steep way. This means climbing Aasgard Pass

There’s a GPS glitch in there so it’s a bit shorter than recorded

First you have to hike about 5 miles to Colchuck Lake…

Colchuck Lake. Aasgard Pass is the notch on the left

…and around the right side of the lake

A closer look at the 2000 foot climb. The way up is on the left of the trees in the middle.

A bit of rock climbing before getting to the pass

Colchuck Lake in the late afternoon

About 1/3 of the way up looking back at the Lake

About half way up we encountered a family of 4 mountain goats making their way down the pass. It looked like two adults, a juvenile and an older one (but what do I know about goats). I had stupidly turned off my phone on the way up in an attempt to save my battery. It took multiple hours to make the ~1mile climb and it included a short stop to recover Laura’s sleeping pad which had fallen off and dropped down the slope.

We got to the top as the sun was starting to set. It was quite clear so we got some good views of the high altitude portion.

Inspiration Lake at the top

We had to quickly find a good camping spot and set up our tents in the gathering dark. Dinner was under a brilliantly starry sky. The weather forecast going in was for a nice clear weekend so we went to bed in anticipation of a nice, sunny hike in the morning.

Day Two

I got up in the middle of the night to use the facilities and noticed that it had clouded up a bit. Nothing to worry about, right? Well, this is what we woke up to

Just stay in bed

The snow was piling up and the terrain was transformed into a moonscape.

Winter wonderland

My friend Nanci, the most positive, upbeat person I know, earned major karma points by delivering boiling water to me and Laura in our tent. After I got out though it was quite pretty.

You can see Kim and Rebecca making breakfast below (click the photo to zoom in)

Our plan was to have a fairly short hike to find a lower campsite and then to day hike out of it for the next day.

This track is about a mile or so shorter than our hike. I stopped the tracking because the rain was making my watch malfunction

As we dropped in altitude the snow turned to rain and the wind picked up. The gusts were about a million miles per hour (or so).

Nanci is having fun!

Not a great picture but I like it because you can see the snow/rain falling

After a bit of wandering around, we found a decent spot for camping by Leprechaun Lake. I set up a tent, climbed in and napped away the afternoon.

The rain did finally stop in the late afternoon but the wind contined. As the sun set, we saw that the next day might be a bit nicer.


Some sunset alpenglow

Day Three

The morning arrived as we suspected with a clear sky. Our orignial plan was to spend Saturday day hiking and then hike back down the way we came on Sunday. The rain on Friday made us reconsider that plan and then a medical situation forced the issue. We decided to head down the other direction on Saturday and cut our trip short by one day. That meant we’d need to walk a long way and then get someone to give us a ride up to the other trailhead.

A long walk

As I said, the morning was clear and sunny. We were in for a nice day.

Really interesting clouds

Shadow selfie of the tent

Leprechaun Lake in the morning

The way down started with a lot of tricky rocky descents.

Coming down the rocks

I got some of my favorite photos of the trip in the morning.


My favorite two photos

One of those tricky decents was the “Rebar section.” If you look closely at that next photo, you can see there are rebar “steps” drilled into the rock. The other side is out of view so you sort of have to trust that there is somewhere to go beyond those steps.


The Rebar section and the other side

A mountain goat attempting to ignore all of us taking photos of it

At around 11:30 we stopped for lunch. We decided to send our fastest three down ahead to arrange getting our three cars from the other trailhead. That was Doug, Ruth and me. We headed down at our best pace. It was a long hike but with a lot of pretty sights. I was glad we got to see that side of the trail.

Crossing the dam at Snow Lake

Looking back across Snow Lake

In particular, there is a place where a hole is drilled through the mountain below a lake. The water from the upper lake flows through into a lower lake. It looks like a firehose times 1000.

Water jet

After a long hike, we did finally see the road again.

The road in the distance

We found a couple of trail runners who were nice enough to give us a ride up to our cars. The rest of the group got in not too long after we had gotten back to the lower trailhead.

It was a great time.

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Here’s my silly short video of the Snow Lake bore hole

I’ll put some of the photos that I like from the others here.

Rebecca took a photo of the “rebar section” that captures it much better than I did

“You’re on the road to nowhere…” :musical_note:

She also had a good one of me and Nanci waiting for someone to make us dinner!

(Actually, I think I had dinner re-hydrating under my coat where it could keep me warm)

Also a great pic of one of the goats we saw on the pass


Laura caught me contemplating the day with my morning tea

Doug caught us eating dinner at the end of day 2

and he also got a good group photo at the top of Aasgard Pass

Top of the world!