Joined: 02 Mar 2002
Posts: 1967 | TRs
Location: ex Kennewick, Wa & Lehi Utah
|Sep 04, 2002 by Dean
Enchantment Lakes #1553 - The Alpine Lakes
Five days in the Enchantments
Initially my son-in-law and I had planned to do the Stevens Pass-Snoqualmie Pass section of the PCT but since he was making the trip from out of state and at great expense, he really wanted to get into the Enchantments. Our starting date was Aug 31st, a Saturday and I mentioned that the chance of getting a permit was truly a moon shot. His plane landed at 11 pm friday night and at 4 am I was shaking Jeremy awake for the three hour drive to Leavenworth. A miracle occurred when Jeremy drew an opening to the Enchantments. We were set, the Enchantments it was.
After Jeremy got an out of state fishing license at the Der Sportsman in Leavenworth and sorting out the gear we needed versus what the PCT would have required, we found ourselves at the Colchuck TH. This year we left our watches home and had a nice enjoyable hike up the trail to my favorite lake in the Cascades, Colchuck. The color of the water never ceases to amaze me and Jeremy was blown away by the mountain backdrop of Dragontail-Colchuck peaks. Rather than start up Aasgard at this time, we elected to camp at Colchuck near Robert and Audrey from Sumner. The reason for not going up was the wind, the wind was howling up there and clouds were coming in.
Sunday morning found us picking our way up Aasgard and we met a lot of people coming down, several who had spent the night in terribly windy conditions in the middle enchantments. It seems we had made the right decision by camping at Colchuck. One very interesting guy, was a trail runner wearing a Spam t-shirt who introduced himself as Thor (nice Norse name). Thor had started from the Snow Creek TH at 6:30 a.m. and at 11:00 was already almost to Colchuck. I really don't know how anyone could run down Aasgard but Thor seemed to be doing just that. It got colder and windier the higher we got and soon we were stopping to put on our down jackets to stay warm even while we hiked. When we topped out on Aasgard, the panorama that awaited was worth every upward step that we had made. You could look back down on Colchuck, now a small circle of blue and by turning your head in other directions, you could take in landscape that reminded you of the high Sierras with lots of granite and minimal vegetation. As we dropped from the uppers, the wind dropped and we found our way to Rune Lake and our camping spot for the night. The evening's entertainment was a group of mountain goats that posed for photos and were hoping that one of us would heed the call of nature, which is kind of unsettling.
Monday finally dawned clear but we felt like we had spent another night in the wind tunnel. Anyone who has experience the 'zephyr' like wind that comes roaring up Crystal creek and exits out over Prussik pass will know what I mean by calling it the wind tunnel. The beauty of the area is unsurpassed however and I never get tired of looking up at Prussik Peak as it towers over the landscape. We put our packs together and headed up and over Prussik pass to spend the next night at Shield's lake. Jeremy is a fisherman as well as a backpacker (they do go together) and suffice it to say, Shields did not let him down. We ate our fill of fish for sure. When evening came, it brought rain and the wind. Once again, we spent most of the night being buffeted by the wind. Surprisingly, I slept pretty well in my flapping tent as did Jeremy in his Hennessy Hammock.
Tuesday found us exploring around the lost world plateau until we finally decided to head back up into the middle enchantments, which seemed deserted when we got there. We spent time in the beautiful middle enchantment area and played around until it was getting pretty late in the day and decided that it was time to head back over Aasgard Pass. I had forgotten how tough going down Aasgard is on aging knees. After what seemed like forever, we touched the sand of the lake as the light of day was starting to fade. We were startled to see that the water level of Colchuck had dropped by almost three feet in just a few days. We found a camp down at the far end of the lake and was amazed to not have any wind at all during this last night.
Wednesday: I awoke to ice on my sleeping bag as did Jeremy in his hammock, even without a fly being put up. One last note, no bugs from sunday on. We packed up and were at the TH by noon for the three hour drive home. I wish we could have had a couple more days to spend but Jeremy had to get back to his job. On the way out, we met several who were going from TH to TH, including a 72 year old gentleman who said he planned on doing this feat every year until he got too old to do so. Amen to that since I'm closing on 62. I plan to be doing the same thing next year as we are already planning our next 5/6 day Enchantment trip. One last note, the Whopper in the BK in Leavenworth sure tasted great, I could have eaten two of them. : )
Dean - working in Utah for awhile and feeling like it is a 'paid' vacation.