Forum Index > Trip Reports > All aboard the Enchantments Express (10/19/08)
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GeoTom
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GeoTom
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PostThu Oct 23, 2008 9:09 pm 
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Overview

Participants: Schmidt Alti-Babe (The conductor), Schmidt Alti-Dude (The boxcar), GeoTom (The caboose)
Access: Highway 2 > Icicle Road (FS 76) > Eightmile Road (FS 7601) > Stuart Lake Trailhead
Trails: Lake Stuart #1599, Colchuck Lake #1599.1, Snow Lake #1553
Map: Green Trails The Enchantments 209s
Miles traveled: ~18
Elevation gain/loss: +5,682/-7,618 (per the conductor’s altimeter log)
Summits: None, but Alti-Dude demonstrated wicked bouldering skills on a previously unnamed rock
Lakes visited: Colchuck, Freya (Tranquil), Reginleif, Brynhild (Isolation), Olrun, Sigrun, Brisingamen Lakelets, Talisman (Inspiration), Rune (Perfection), Sprite, Leprechaun, Viviane, Upper Snow, Lower Snow, Nada
Things I learned this weekend: Alti-Dude likes to play with his pole.*
Alti-Babe takes good photos, but will go to any lengths to sabotage the efforts of others.**


Details

Stuart Lake Trailhead Station to Colchuck Lake Platform:
After a too short sleep at my friend Mark’s house in Leavenworth, we woke up and headed back up the Icicle and Eightmile Roads all the way to the Stuart Lake Trailhead Station. It was cold as the 8:00 departed Stuart Lake Trailhead Station only slightly behind schedule at 8:12. The tracks were clear to the Stuart Lake/Colchuck Lake junction, and we veered left towards Colchuck Lake. The grade increased as we neared the lake, but eventually flattened out along the shores of the lake. We arrived at the Colchuck Lake Platform to find only a few other travelers. A refueling break was in order before we tackled the next section of track up and over Aasgard Pass.

Cold start at the station
Cold start at the station
Alti-Dude getting his video on
Alti-Dude getting his video on
Alti-Babe admires Colchuck and studies Dragontail
Alti-Babe admires Colchuck and studies Dragontail
Colchuck Peak and larches
Colchuck Peak and larches
Larch reflections
Larch reflections

Colchuck Lake Platform to Aasgard Pass Depot:
Refueled and ready, Alti-Babe the conductor led us around the shores of Colchuck Lake to the base of the infamous Aasgard Pass climb. We were almost derailed by some small stands of slide alder along the tracks, but managed to push through. This track is in much better shape than the Eightmile Mountain siding. A few small icy spots remained but were easily avoided. The going was slower than anticipated due to a heavy load in the caboose (A Big Wet Burrito from the previous night). Along the way we had an unexpected sighting: A group of 4 humans were descending with a canine friend. It didn’t appear to be a wild dog or a stray they had just found. Maybe they thought that dogs were allowed after permit season is over?  huh.gif  We decided not to say anything and continued with our ascent. Eventually we arrived at Aasgard Pass Depot.

Colchuck Lake
Colchuck Lake
Aasgard Pass route
Aasgard Pass route
Eightmile Mountain
Eightmile Mountain
Ice over the tracks
Ice over the tracks

Aasgard Pass Depot to Crystal Lake Overlook:
Our original schedule had us continuing through the upper basin towards Little Annapurna, and making a turn towards the Lil Annapurna/Dragontail Col and eventually topping out on Witches Tower. Team S (with yukon222) had laid the track back in July but a sheet of ice over the tracks this October day made us reconsider. We had left our snow plough (Ice axes and crampons) at the Stuart Lake Trailhead Station (Alti-Dudes ice axe was lost somewhere among the slide alder thicket on Eightmile Mountain). Without this necessary equipment we decided against an attempt at this summit, and decided to just enjoy the upper lakes instead. A solitary goat stood above, watching us. We said hello from a distance and continued on our way as we were behind schedule.

We steamed on toward the shores of Lake Freya (Tranquil). Alti-Dude was looking for fishies, but with his pole broken, he walked by with a forlorn look on his face. Our journey continued on past Lake Reginleif and Lake Brynhild (Isolation), Lake Sigrun and Lake Olrun and eventually to the Brisingamen Lakelets. Alti-Dude wanted a summit of some sort, so he decoupled from us and scrambled to the top of a massive six foot rock along the trail. He found no summit register on top and declared it Broken Pole Peak. Or something like that. After safely descending the north face he recoupled with us and off we went. Shortly we arrived at a small station overlooking Crystal Lake. There was a smelly toilet nearby.

Heading for Lake Freya
Heading for Lake Freya
Tickets please
Tickets please
Reginleif and Brynhild Lakes
Reginleif and Brynhild Lakes
Lake Reginleif, Witches Tower and Dragontail Plateau
Lake Reginleif, Witches Tower and Dragontail Plateau
Prusik Peak and Mt. Temple
Prusik Peak and Mt. Temple
Larching for the sky
Larching for the sky
Alti-Dude gets a summit
Alti-Dude gets a summit
Alti-Dude and the views
Alti-Dude and the views
Brisingamen Lakelets
Brisingamen Lakelets
View from near the loo
View from near the loo
Schmidt Enchantitide
Schmidt Enchantitide

Crystal Lake Overlook to Lake Viviane Station:
By now the Alti-Crew had been informed that I had never been down into the middle or lower Enchantments. We conferred for a couple minutes and decided to continue our journey eastward, abandoning any sort of printed schedule or timetable. We had no passengers on board or freight to deliver, so why not? The only issue would be getting back to my truck at Stuart Lake TH Station, but with all the people we had seen along the way we figured someone would be so kind as to give us a ride back. Or I could walk, but I figured I might be out of steam by then.

We began the descent into the middle and lower Enchantments. Our first stop was Talisman Lake (Inspiration). One thing I noticed right away was the increase in vegetation, especially the much sought after larch tree. They were still golden, and this made me happy. So happy that I almost forgot about the annoying pain in my wheels (feet).

The well traveled tracks continued their descent through the larches to Rune Lake (Perfection) and Sprite Lake, which surprisingly was filled with water and not a lemon-lime soda.  huh.gif  We were surprised to see another canine with a solitary human companion. This was a bit too much so I asked if he (the human as I assumed the dog could not read) had missed the small, vaguely worded signs at the trailhead stating that dogs weren’t allowed. He merely looked down at his feet and stayed silent.  I decided to leave it at that.  shakehead.gif

Shortly we came upon two hikers headed in the same direction. A usually shy and reserved Alti-Dude struck up a conversation with them and we discovered that they already had a car shuttle in place and agreed to transport us back to the Stuart Lake Trailhead Station. Thanks Josh and Joe.  up.gif

Our travels took us further down the Enchantments mainline past Leprechaun Lake. The only gold we found here was in the form of larch needles. They were beautiful, but not the type of gold to make any of us quit our day jobs. Eventually we reached the shores of Lake Viviane Station and stopped for another refueling break. It was here that I ran out of water. Fortunately I still had some Gatorade and the Alti-Crew had a device that could filter out any ickies in the water.

Prusik and Temple
Prusik and Temple
Alti-Babe goes for the gold
Alti-Babe goes for the gold
Prusik and Temple
Prusik and Temple
Dueling camers (she won)
Dueling camers (she won)
Alti-Babe on rocks and needles
Alti-Babe on rocks and needles
Sprite Lake and McClellan Peak
Sprite Lake and McClellan Peak
Larches are better than slide alder
Larches are better than slide alder
Water, not Sprite
Water, not Sprite
Larching
Larching
There's gold in them rocks
There's gold in them rocks
McClellan Peak above Leprechaun Lake
McClellan Peak above Leprechaun Lake

Lake Viviane Station to Snow Lake Trailhead Terminal:
We were now officially off the Enchantments Mainline and on something known as the Snow Creek Slog. I had heard of this before. Rumor had it that one could see the Snow Lake Trailhead Terminal for hours before actually arriving. I thought that was an exaggeration, but was soon to find out not by much.

The Snow Creek Slog descended slowly at first to the shores of Upper Snow Lake. The Golden Larches gave way to greener forests. We reached the Upper Snow Lake Siding to find the water level slightly below the high water mark. Alti-Dude and Alti-Babe found a site where they had camped in their younger days. By now I thought I might have to stay here too, but another snack break and I was ok to continue.

We meandered along the south and east side up Upper Snow Lake, over the dam between the lakes and down towards Nada Lake. Another small stand of slide alder along the trail gave us flashbacks to the previous day’s Eightmile Experience. The slide alder attempted to board the train, but with a little trekking pole work from Alti-Dude thwarted the attack and passed by safely.

The Snow Creek Slog lived up to its name as we descended into the darkness. Headlamps came out and gloves came on. The lights of the Snow Lake Trailhead Terminal were visible, but the altimeters stated that we still had over a thousand feet of elevation to lose. Trains aren’t supposed to descend that fast.  eek.gif  Alti-Dude found a watch on the ground. Score! Within 3 minutes we saw lights headed our way. A man asked if we had found a watch. We had. Alti-Dude handed it over without asking for a description or a reward. What a nice guy. (sucker).

We finally made it to the Snow Lake Trailhead Terminal at 7:41. Of course, our ride back to the Stuart Lake Trailhead Station was behind us, but we could see their headlamps high on the hillside above the terminal. We waited for a little while, and eventually Josh and Joe appeared and we piled into their vehicle and drove back to my waiting truck.

Wedge and Snow
Wedge and Snow
Alti-Babe on the move
Alti-Babe on the move
NWHikers in da E Zone!
NWHikers in da E Zone!
Sunlit goldness
Sunlit goldness
Lake Viviane
Lake Viviane
Action shot
Action shot
Don't leave the caboose behind!
Don't leave the caboose behind!

The drive back to GeoTom land was uneventful. The AltiCrew had to leave immediately to retrieve the whippets. Good trip, but not sure if I want to do it again. At least until next year.   hockeygrin.gif



*Alti-Dude like to play with his fishing pole. What did you think I meant?
** I was using a camera that I normally don’t use. Alti-Babe looked at it and under the guise of 'photography advice' suggested that I use the ‘Landscape Mode’. I thought it was a ‘Sunset Mode’ as the Landscape Mode on my point and shoot had a different icon. Enough photos came out funny that I am having doubts as to her motives.

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Schmidt Alti-Babe
The Ice Queen



Joined: 11 Mar 2008
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Schmidt Alti-Babe
The Ice Queen
PostThu Oct 23, 2008 9:10 pm 
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It was very hard not to take lots of pictures in this beautiful area.  Even though we were just there in July, the place had a different feel to it with the golden larches all around.  Well worth it.

Larches along the Colchuck Lake shore
Larches along the Colchuck Lake shore
Boulder hopping along Colchuck Lake
Boulder hopping along Colchuck Lake
Colchuck Col and Peak
Colchuck Col and Peak
Up close with the larches
Up close with the larches
Dude on the trail above the lake
Dude on the trail above the lake
Jabberwocky Tower
Jabberwocky Tower
Larch and Lake
Larch and Lake
Part of Dragontail
Part of Dragontail
Dragontail Peak from the pass (see the climbers?)
Dragontail Peak from the pass (see the climbers?)
GeoTom under the Witches Tower
GeoTom under the Witches Tower
We're #1!
We're #1!
Reginleif, Brynhild, & Little Annapurna
Reginleif, Brynhild, & Little Annapurna
S curved ice in Reginleif
S curved ice in Reginleif
Olrun and McClellan
Olrun and McClellan
Waterfall into Olrun
Waterfall into Olrun
Temple Range seen in the distance
Temple Range seen in the distance
Icy coating on a lakelet
Icy coating on a lakelet
Fall colors in the upper Enchantments
Fall colors in the upper Enchantments
The needles are just hanging on
The needles are just hanging on
Take a bow sir
Take a bow sir
Crystal Lake
Crystal Lake
Larch covered hills and Prusik Peak
Larch covered hills and Prusik Peak
Talisman Larch
Talisman Larch
Teal and Gold
Teal and Gold
Larch and Enchantment Peak
Larch and Enchantment Peak
Twisted Tamarack
Twisted Tamarack
Towering over Talisman
Towering over Talisman
Dude leads the way down to Rune Lake
Dude leads the way down to Rune Lake
Rune Lake and McClellan Peak
Rune Lake and McClellan Peak
Along the shore of Rune
Along the shore of Rune
Rune Lake and Gold Larches
Rune Lake and Gold Larches
Walking on (larch) needles
Walking on (larch) needles
Little Annapurna and Rune Lake
Little Annapurna and Rune Lake
Little Annapurna from the shore of Sprite
Little Annapurna from the shore of Sprite
Mirrored larches
Mirrored larches
Snow Creek runs through
Snow Creek runs through
Larches surrounding Leprechaun Lake
Larches surrounding Leprechaun Lake
Not much warm left
Not much warm left
Prusik Peak
Prusik Peak
McClellan Peak reflected in Leprechaun Lake
McClellan Peak reflected in Leprechaun Lake
With arms wide open
With arms wide open
Icy Leprechaun Lake
Icy Leprechaun Lake
Prusik and Viviane
Prusik and Viviane
Lone larch over Lake Viviane
Lone larch over Lake Viviane
Blue, Green, and Gold
Blue, Green, and Gold
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Schmidt Alti-Dude
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Schmidt Alti-Dude
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PostThu Oct 23, 2008 9:10 pm 
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What a great day "accidently" doing the Enchantments through hike!

I feel I need to apologize for my actions on the trail this day.  First, when we decided to not go for a peak and do the through hike I came down with summit fever and left my hiking partners behind to tag a summit.  I am sorry for the danger that my actions placed myself and my friends:
Summit Fever
Summit Fever

Later, when I saw some slide alder by the trail I had flashbacks of our Eightmile Experience and went nuts.  I know now I could have poked someones eye out with a flying trek pole and I'm truly sorry.
Revenge on the slide alder
Revenge on the slide alder

Here are my meager photo contributions (more panos at our flickr site!):

All bundled up from the early morning chill
All bundled up from the early morning chill
On the Mountaineer Creek bridge
On the Mountaineer Creek bridge
Colchuck Peak reflected in Warmchuck pond
Colchuck Peak reflected in Warmchuck pond
A Babe in the boulders
A Babe in the boulders
Mount Cashmere viewed from Colchuck Lake
Mount Cashmere viewed from Colchuck Lake
Dangerous crossing of the frozen stream
Dangerous crossing of the frozen stream
Colchuck Peak reflected in Colchuck Lake
Colchuck Peak reflected in Colchuck Lake
Babe at the waterfall
Babe at the waterfall
L.N.T. Fail!
L.N.T. Fail!
Frosty Freya
Frosty Freya
Lake Olrun
Lake Olrun
Stream crossing
Stream crossing
Brisingamen Lakelets
Brisingamen Lakelets
Crystal Lake and McClellan Peak
Crystal Lake and McClellan Peak
Which cairn do we follow?
4 labels
Which cairn do we follow?
Cairn trying to imitate Prusik Peak
Cairn trying to imitate Prusik Peak
Talisman Lake
Talisman Lake
Keeping her balance
Keeping her balance
Rune Lake
Rune Lake
Sprite Lakelet
Sprite Lakelet
There has to be some good photo opportunities here somewhere
There has to be some good photo opportunities here somewhere
Shadows and larches in the Enchantments
Shadows and larches in the Enchantments
A Babe in the (golden) woods
A Babe in the (golden) woods
Enchantments group shot
Enchantments group shot
Leprechaun Lake framed by larches
Leprechaun Lake framed by larches
Lake Viviane
Lake Viviane
You take a block from the bottom and you put it on top . . .
You take a block from the bottom and you put it on top . . .
Nada Lake
Nada Lake
18 miles + 5600' up + 7600' down = 1 great day!
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18 miles + 5600' up + 7600' down = 1 great day!

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Anything stated by me in no way reflects the attitudes or opinions of my wife
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GaliWalker
Have camera will use



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GaliWalker
Have camera will use
PostThu Oct 23, 2008 9:29 pm 
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Nice report, GeoTom, and really lovely photos. (The Schmidt team hasn't weighed in yet, but looking forward to their thoughts/eye-candy.)
Edit: Nice shots Schmidt's. 'Dude I like "Warmchuck Pond", much better than Colchuck Tarn, which is what I've been calling it.

Man, you should have given the dog owners a real earful! Why do some people do this? What's wrong with them? There are numerous signs at the trailhead... shakehead.gif

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'Gali'Walker => 'Mountain-pass' walker
bobbi: "...don't you ever forget your camera!"
Photography site: http://galiwalker.zenfolio.com/
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GeoTom
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GeoTom
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PostThu Oct 23, 2008 9:34 pm 
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Obviously all three of us are dog owners, and while I won't speak for the Alti-Crew, the sight of the dogs really annoyed me (not the dogs themselves but the people bringing them in). I might have been more vocal if I had been there alone, but I don't know the Schmidt's well enough yet to show my total ass#### side. They still think I'm a nice guy.  wink.gif

Ragarding their photos: I have browsed their flickr page. Looks like some good ones in there. Maybe I shouldn't have even posted mine  lol.gif

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Dayhike Mike
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Dayhike Mike
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PostThu Oct 23, 2008 9:46 pm 
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Nice work guys! Looks like you had a good time.

Glad to see Warmchuck getting a little love. wink.gif

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"There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." -P.J. O'Rourke
"Ignorance is natural. Stupidity takes commitment." -Solomon Short
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Schmidt Alti-Babe
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Schmidt Alti-Babe
The Ice Queen
PostThu Oct 23, 2008 9:54 pm 
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The dogs didn't sit well with us either.  I actually said something to the first group, but I got "The Look" from Dude, so I kept quiet on the second run-in.  I'm personally glad you said something, GeoTom.  Really, no one likes a rule breaker.  It just ruins it for the rest of us.  shakehead.gif
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Ingunn
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Ingunn
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PostThu Oct 23, 2008 10:00 pm 
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I love the photos of Warmchuck with larches - and the animated gifs! lol.gif

I am just amazed that people would bring dogs up thereshakehead.gif
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Magellan
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Magellan
Brutally Handsome
PostThu Oct 23, 2008 10:04 pm 
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Glad to see nwhikers represent!!  More throwing down signs equals more people in the posse.
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Backpacker Joe
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Backpacker Joe
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PostThu Oct 23, 2008 10:05 pm 
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Great stuff as usual guys. up.gif

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"I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people and I require the same from them."

—Wayne's John Bernard Books in The Shootist
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Go Jo
of the lykkens



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Go Jo
of the lykkens
PostThu Oct 23, 2008 10:11 pm 
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GeoTom wrote:
Alti-Babe goes for the gold
Alti-Babe goes for the gold

Looks enchanted in that 'only magical beings cover 18mi a day' type of way. I'm stunned you all had time for so many great photos. Laughed out loud at the animated Dude ones too. ~Jo
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puzzlr
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puzzlr
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PostFri Oct 24, 2008 12:26 am 
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I'm getting tired just keeping up with the TRs you're posting! Are you under the impression that you have to hike everything in Washington before you're 30?
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Schmidt Alti-Babe
The Ice Queen



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Schmidt Alti-Babe
The Ice Queen
PostFri Oct 24, 2008 12:31 am 
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Hmmm....that's kind of tough when only one of us is under 30.   lol.gif   clown.gif
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yukon222
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yukon222
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PostFri Oct 24, 2008 8:10 am 
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Another clever TR Geotom!  Glad the Schmidts shared their extensive knowledge of the Enchantments with you.  Always nice to have expert "tour guides" along.   agree.gif   And the larches hung on to their needles too!  Weird year with such varying larch timing/colors.

Yes, seeing the Snow Lake TH for so long before you arrive at it is extremely annoying.   lol.gif
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ActionBetty
Im a dirty hippie!



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ActionBetty
Im a dirty hippie!
PostFri Oct 24, 2008 8:13 am 
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uh oh..geotom pressed the submit button a minute too early winksmile.gif

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"If you're not living good, you gotta travel wide"...Bob Marley
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