Forum Index

Trail Talk

Partners

Trip Reports
 

Stewardship
/History 

Gear
/Food/Photo

Support
/Links 

Saloon
/Trade 
Forum Index -> Trip Reports -> Enchantments Wandering, 10/8/2011
Previous :: Next Topic  
Author Message
Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot



Joined: 30 Jan 2007
Posts: 3600 | TRs | Pics
Location: Shoreline
Post Sat Oct 15, 2011 3:44 am   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

All that is gold does not glitter; not all who wander are lost...


After some of my other trips, I’ve wished for more time to just explore around and discover an area from new perspectives.  On this trip, I did that.  I started early and departed late, so that I could spend as much daylight as possible wandering around the Enchantments.  And the day just kept getting better and better as it went on. 

Actually, I had a permit for overnight camping starting Sunday, but the weather would have been poor then.  I also knew a group making a fast thru-hike, but that have meant hurrying past everything.  So I made the most of a single day. 

Some of the best highlights of the day came after I left the trail and just began wandering:  a ramble up the granite slaps from Leprechaun Lake to Prusik Pass; a side trip out to the end of the peninsula on Crystal Lake; and returning through the upper basin in late afternoon light.

Along the way were also the small serendipitous surprises – beautiful little still-life settings of frost in a pool, snow on the rocks, rocks in a tarn.

Also, yes, there was the grand scenery of the Enchantments.  I’ve seen it before, but each trip offers a fresh discovery of beauty.  The tremendous granite - spiky towers above and curving slabs underfoot.  The wonderful lakes - with their crystal depths and beautiful colors.  And the fascinating interaction between the two – high cliffs plunging to mysterious depths, intricate shorelines curving and embracing the water, vigorous peninsulae stretching outward, pert islands rising upward, lively streams flowing in and cascading onward.

And there was the gold.  Beautiful, shiny gold.  Muted in the morning light, and then glowing bright in the afternoon.  Circling around the lakes, marching up the slopes, white snow beneath their feet, blue sky above their heads, the larches proudly displaying their final autumn splendor before they settle into their long winter rest.


The Trail In & Up:  Colchuck Trail & Aasgard Pass

To get started early, I slept in my car at the trailhead.  It was surprisingly comfortable, except for the scratching noise of the mice in trunk that kept awakening me in the middle of the night.

I was off up the trail by headlamp at 4:30am.  Even at that hour, several other groups were also getting ready to depart.

The route up Aasgard Pass was a bit of a traction challenge, with the snow packed by previous hikers and frozen overnight.  During my climb up the pass, I enjoyed watching the first light touch the tops of the peaks, and then seeing my first little sunlit larch of the season glowing gold near the top.


Along the Trail:  From the Upper Lakes to the Overlook

The Upper Lakes

The upper basin stretched bright and cold.  It was all white snow and icy lakes, with a few small gold larches under a wide blue sky.


The Upper Tarns

Traveling past the upper tarns, I think I doubled the number of side tracks in the snow, checking out the reflections in the shallow pools and hopping on the rocks for better views.  I also managed to slip briefly on an icy rock and stumble into the stream just enough to add cold water to both of my boots.


The Overlook: Perfection & Lower Lakes Basin

At the far end of the basin, I made a side trip up to The Overlook, where a rocky rise tops out to high cliffs that give a wide view of the lower lakes.


Crystal Lake from Above

I also made a couple side trips to look down at Crystal Lake.  I’ve always especially liked this view down to Crystal, nestled in its little basin, framed between the heights of McClellan & Little Annapurna, with its shield-like shape and rocky peninsula just begging to be explored.


As I departed The Overlook, I met up with Dicey, Roald, and DonB of the thru-hike group (Randy was further ahead).   They commented that every time they saw a side track in the snow, they figured it was me running around to take pictures.

Along the Trail:  The Lower Lakes from Inspiration to Leprechaun

Inspiration Lake


Perfection & Sprite Lakes

On the near shore of Perfection Lake, we met Don Geyer and Don, who were camping at Sprite Lake together with Karen2 & GoJo.  We all talked for a while, during which  we could see Randy waiting and waiting across the lake on the far shore.  Walking along the east shore later on, I especially enjoyed all the little twisty bonsai larches that grow at the edges of the lake.


At Sprite Lake, we met Karen2 & Gojo at their camp, and the thru-hikers took off at their higher pace, while I proceeded more slowly down to Leprechaun Lake.

On my last trip through the Enchantments, these lakes had provided some of my best photos, but this time the bright snow and low light angle producing mostly just bright glare and dark surfaces on the lakes.

Leprechaun Lake

Down at Leprechaun Lake, I couldn’t get a good perspective from the lakeshore, so I started working my way up slabs north of the lake for better views.


First Wander: Leprechaun to Prusik Pass

I had planned to take the trail down to Viviane Lake, but the slabs kept leading me upward to better views, so I just kept going north up the rib toward Prusik Pass.

Viviane (& Temple) Lakes

Suddenly Viviane Lake popped into view below, full of the rich colors I had been looking for.


Along the Slabs

The rock here was perfect for wandering, just one rising curve after another.  And tucked into the rock were pools of water everywhere, ranging from tarns to tiny puddles, all etched in patterns of ice and frost.


Prusik Peak

Higher up, Prusik Peak dominated the view.  From this corner, the steep clean rock just swept farther and farther up overhead.


Prusik Pass

Prusik Pass provided a study in contrasts.

It offered a head-on view of the bifurcated prow of Prusik Peak, all dark cold snowy broken rock on the left, and bright warm sheer faces on the right.

Edwards Mesa stretched lower and still mostly green on one side, while the Enchantments basin stretched high and cold on the other.


Second Wander: Prusik Pass to Crystal Lake

Now I wanted to work my way back to Crystal Lake, so I first followed a different rib southwest toward Sprite Lake.

Gnome Tarn

Along the way, Gnome Tarn offered a frozen reflection of Prusik, a bit different than the usual view.


Perfection Lake

Thickening clouds turned Perfection Lake to tones of steely gray.


Sprite Lake

Temple Mountain looked especially dramatic on this trip past Sprite Lake, with the rock and water shadowed dark, but a narrow band of sun lighting up the shoreline larches.


From Sprite to Crystal

One could just follow the shore of Perfection around toward Crystal, but I diverted past Sprite Lake and up over the nose of the nose southwest of the lake for different views of the area.  Across Perfection Lake, I could even see a crowd of hikers up on The Overlook.


Third Wander: Crystal, Crystal, Crystal!

Dropping down to Crystal Lake, the water reflected painfully bright glare from above, but then pretty blue skies as I reached its shore.


All sizes and shapes of larches surrounded the lake.


I worked my way out along the edge of the peninsula, reveling in the shapes and views that it revealed.


A flat rock provided an irresistible platform for a swim in the lake.  But I couldn’t decide whether I liked the larch view or the mountain view better, so I reset the camera and swam off both sides.  I finished just before my rock dropped into evening shadow.  (Note to self: Before stepping off a steep=sided rock into the water, make sure that you can climb back out, so you don’t have to paddle along the shoreline looking for an exit.)


When I dropped down to Crystal, I hoped that there would be an alternate exit, without hiking back up all around the trail.  One could probably hike up the far slopes toward Little Annapurna, but they had a lot of snow.  Once I was down by the lake, I also spotted a nice dry gully on the north side, and it turned out to lead right back up to The Overlook!


Back on the Trail:  The Overlook to Aasgard Pass

The Overlook

Atop the Overlook, I found Don & Done setting up tripods for sunset photography.  The afternoon light was already casting the lower basin into sharp relief.


The Tarns!

At the Upper Tarns, the afternoon light and shadows revealed wonderful combination of colors and shapes.


Where the sun had melted the tarns, they reflected beautiful deep blue.


And in the shadows, they were icy pastels.


The Upper Basin

By the time I reached the top of Aasgard Pass, only a thin rim of light remained on the crests, and a full moon rose behind McClellan.


The Trail Down & Out

The trail down the pass was nasty.  The foot-packed snow was now frozen to an icy slick, and I had to aim for rock edges or hold myself back with my poles on every step, so I made slow progress and it was dark before I reached the bottom.


At the bottom of the pass, I found a pair of neophyte backpackers who were lost in the rubble and brush.  An “experienced” friend had recommended that they do Aasgard as their first-ever backpacking trip.  Damn, I hate that kind of thoughtless “advice.”  However, they had shown good sense by turning back when it got too slick for them, and stopping in place when they couldn’t figure out where to go in the dark.  Fortunately, I was able to accompany them to find their way back to the trail.

Then I hiked the rest of the way back to the trailhead.  It was such a calm temperate night that it was very comfortable, even though long after dark.  Even in the woods, the moon was so bright that I sometimes thought someone was flashing a headlamp from behind me.

I finally reached my car at 11:30pm and drove back to the campground where the thru-hikers were already asleep.  On my phone, I found an earlier message from Dicey that they were having dinner at Gustav’s.  Everything was closed now, so I just had a package of ramens in my car.  But it was well worth the longer trip.

Round trip stats:  21 miles, 6700 feet cumulative gain, 19:10 hours, no new summits, no new trails, many wonderful memories.

This trip left me already anticipating other ways I could explore the area – walk across the Isolation isthmus, explore the Leprechaun Peninsula, swim out to Perfection Island, maybe circumnavigate the shore of some of the lakes.  There’s always something new to try.

For now, I felt very tired, but even more very satisfied.

--------------
“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
JimL
Member
Member


Joined: 21 Jul 2002
Posts: 26 | TRs | Pics
Location: Kirkland Wa
Post Sat Oct 15, 2011 5:58 am   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

Thank you for the wonderful pictures.  You captured the soul of the Enchantments perfectly.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail
timtodd
Member
Member


Joined: 14 Dec 2009
Posts: 89 | TRs | Pics
Location: Kingston, WA
Post Sat Oct 15, 2011 7:23 am   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

Beautiful trip report! I am thinking about heading up there either Sunday or Monday.

--------------
How importantly do you live every moment, and what is each grain of sand worth to you?
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website Yahoo Messenger
don b
Member
Member


Joined: 22 Feb 2006
Posts: 367 | TRs | Pics

Post Sat Oct 15, 2011 7:23 am   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

Hey Matt,

The guy with Don was Don.

Great pics, Don
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail
silence
Member
Member


Joined: 25 Apr 2005
Posts: 3800 | TRs | Pics

Post Sat Oct 15, 2011 9:29 am   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

so ... did i think i'd seen or would see enough pix of the chants to last me a lifetime??? yeah ... do i think that now? no .. you did a beautiful job, as always, capturing their essence ..

--------------
PHOTOS: https://www.flickr.com/photos/33792231@N00/sets
FILMMAKING: http://www.crestpictures.com/

Keep a good head and always carry a light bulb. – Bob Dylan
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail
Magellan
Brutally Handsome



Joined: 26 Jul 2006
Posts: 11954 | TRs | Pics
Location: Inexorable descent
Post Sat Oct 15, 2011 9:44 am   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

Nicely captured Matt.  up.gif  up.gif
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail
D. Inscho
Not bored yet...



Joined: 28 Feb 2010
Posts: 719 | TRs | Pics
Location: Bellingham,WA
Post Sat Oct 15, 2011 9:46 am   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

New snow, sunshine, ice, golden needles, blue sky, granite ...thanks.

Nicely captured Matt.

--------------
http://david-inscho.smugmug.com/

There's nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept-- Ansel Adams
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
BarbE
Member
Member


Joined: 28 Jul 2006
Posts: 845 | TRs | Pics

Post Sat Oct 15, 2011 10:44 am   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

Wish I could have joined you! Looks like an amazing trip.
You've captured more spectacular images on a mere day hike than most of us who have wandered the Enchantments for days. up.gif  up.gif

Last summer I checked out the gully from from Crystal Lake back to the overlook and didn't think it would go. Well-obviously it goes -at least it does for you! hockeygrin.gif
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail
Hiker Mama
Member
Member


Joined: 25 Jun 2006
Posts: 3017 | TRs | Pics
Location: Lynnwood
Post Sat Oct 15, 2011 11:04 pm   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

Wow!  That does look like it was totally worth it!  You got some interesting photos and angles.  All kinds of different moods.  Excellent!

--------------
My hiking w/ kids site: www.thehikermama.com
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot



Joined: 30 Jan 2007
Posts: 3600 | TRs | Pics
Location: Shoreline
Post Sun Oct 16, 2011 2:19 am   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote


--------------
“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Dean
(aka CascadeHiker)



Joined: 02 Mar 2002
Posts: 1934 | TRs | Pics
Location: ex Kennewick, Wa & Lehi Utah
Post Sun Oct 16, 2011 5:55 am   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

Excellent pictures and a great reminder to me of why I miss this part of the northwest.  Nothing beats the Enchantments at this time of year.  Thank you. up.gif

--------------
Dean - working in Utah for awhile and feeling like it is a 'paid' vacation.
http://www.summitpost.org/user_page.php?user_id=1160
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
GaliWalker
Have camera will use



Joined: 10 Dec 2007
Posts: 2930 | TRs | Pics
Location: Pittsburgh
Post Sun Oct 16, 2011 6:50 am   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

ditto.gif Everything he just said.

--------------
'Gali'Walker => 'Mountain-pass' walker
bobbi: "...don't you ever forget your camera!"
Photography site: http://galiwalker.zenfolio.com/
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Visit poster's website
Don
Member
Member


Joined: 25 Apr 2005
Posts: 1993 | TRs | Pics
Location: Fairwood, WA
Post Sun Oct 16, 2011 4:17 pm   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

Matt, your attention to detail along the trail always amazes me.  Once again, I am impressed!  Excellent images and account of your travels through such a magnificent area.

Back at camp our group was placing guesses as to which lake you would seek out for a dip (previous to your visit).  I don't recall Crystal coming into the conversation, so I guess there were no winners.

You came back up to the overlook while we were up there?  Embarrassing to admit, but I did not know!  We had so many visitors - some real characters too.  I guess we began to tune them out.  I bet you were one of the last one's before we departed around 5:15 or so.  We actually did not shoot sunset from there.  Instead, I spent the evening at Leprechaun Lake (I highly recommend you explore the peninsula).

Thanks for sharing your wonderful account.  I am still editing images (many interruptions) and hope to post a TR shortly.

--------------
Don Geyer Photography

Photography Blog
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Roald
Member
Member


Joined: 06 Aug 2007
Posts: 328 | TRs | Pics
Location: Seattle
Post Mon Oct 17, 2011 1:44 pm   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

It was great to see you up there, Matt!  Glad to see you got in a dip.  Last time I was in Crystal Lake it was a lot warmer, and I still froze my, well, you know.

I took a bunch of pictures that day.  But I think I will throw mine away and steal yours.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail
U2Kent
Member
Member


Joined: 02 Sep 2011
Posts: 18 | TRs | Pics

Post Mon Oct 17, 2011 7:34 pm   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

stunning photos!

we just got back to Portland tonight after 3 days up there, unfortunately we rushed through the upper basin so I only got to stop for photos a few times. Will post a report after I finish processing my shots.

A few questions, what lens/lenses did you use and how did you produce your elevation report? I'm new to the world of GPS and I'm trying to figure out how to edit my data from my Garmin Oregon to put it into a useful format. Unfortunately my batteries died a few times so there are some lines I need to correct but I'm not sure the best way to go about doing that.

Any help/suggestions would be much appreciated. smile.gif
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message AIM Address
  
Display:     All times are GMT - 8 Hours 
 Post new topic Reply to topic
Forum Index -> Trip Reports -> Enchantments Wandering, 10/8/2011  
  Happy Birthday hyak.net!
 
Jump to:   
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum
Search this topic: 


   Use Disclaimer Powered by phpBB © phpBB Group
Privacy Policy