You know that goal I set for myself this summer? I generally don’t set goals anymore because they tend to just stress me out and leech whatever joy I would normally get out of a project, but this one, this one I loved and looked forward to (if somewhat nervously) all summer.
JK and I met up with three other friends and caravaned to Leavenworth (the sort-of-creepy but mostly festive faux-Bavarian village east of Stevens Pass), left one car at the Snow Creek trailhead, and hoped we were starting early enough to hit Aasgard Pass in the shade.
Certain members of the group set off at a grueling pace right from the trailhead, leaving certain other (more portly) members (ok, membeR) of the group wondering what the hell she had gotten herself into. Thankfully my thought process changed when we reached Colchuck Lake – I knew that the remaining miles (minus the last six down to the car) would be beautimous enough to encourage a more ambling pace.
“Ambling” is a much faster pace than what I hiked up Aasgard though – that pass you see in the photo above which gains 2200 feet in 0.8 miles. Ugh. I will say that it felt amazing to hike up it with a light running pack instead of a multi-day backpack. We hit sunlight in the last quarter of it, but I still felt energetic when I reached the top, which is something I would never have imagined.
Cresting Aasgard and walking into the Enchantments gave me a huge rush of emotions. It was so beautiful. I felt so good. And it opened up a whole new world to me to realize that places like this are accessible to me in a day now instead of as a long backpacking trip (with an impossible permit system).
Also, goats! So many! So cute! So fluffy!
Spot the goats in this one?
We mostly saw mamas with their kids. All the menfolk must have been off somewhere watching football.
After a long lunch break in the Upper Enchantments, we made our way through this granite kingdom, which geologist Tom informed us is “not actually granite, but close enough”. He also taught us about inclusions, but I wasn’t really listening. Tom’s a gneiss guy and all, but I don’t give a schist about rocks.
Ok, so I do care about rocks, because look how pretty they be. The Upper Enchantments are very stark, dramatic, and Sierra Nevada-like.
Every time I come here, I can’t help but play the Lord of the Rings soundtrack in my head.
I didn’t think a side trip up Little Annapurna would be in the cards for me, but I really wanted JK to go – he hadn’t been there before, and it’s a really cool summit. As it turned out, my legs still had some elevation gain left in them, so I went up as well.
We had another long break at the summit for second lunch, ’cause a hobbit’s gotta eat.
Unfortunately, we had brought our old, unreliable Rebel with us since the 60D won’t fit in the outside mesh thing of my pack, and now it informed me that it was almost out of juice. Nooo! I had to conserve the battery, so I don’t have many photos from the Lower Enchantments – you’ll just have to believe me (or look at Tom’s photos) when I say it’s a veritable wonderland of lakes, peaks, and goats.
Looking back up at Little Annapurna from Rune Lake:
“Draw me like one of your French chipmunks…”
The goats bade us farewell as we dropped down towards the last lake of the Enchantments (there would be more lakes, but they’re just not as enchanting). Thank you for letting us visit your home, furry ones!
Lake Viviane holds a special place in our hearts; it was our first campsite on our first trip to the Enchantments back in 2008. We spent a lovely afternoon there all alone, just reading and swimming. You obviously miss out on experiences like that when you’re only passing through in a day, but I think the dayhike experience is just as rewarding – in a different way.
The lower basin is more vegetated than the upper basin (less not-quite-granite-but-close-enough), but there are still some steep, rocky bits where you don’t want to slip. Egads!
This is the last photo we took, of the rebar steps leading down to Lake Viviane. From here on, we followed the steep route down to and interminable trail around Snow Lake, the rocky switchbacks down to Nada Lake, and the never-ending grind down to the Snow Creek trailhead, where our second car was waiting with a cooler full of delicious liquids.
My legs were starting to feel it on the way down, but, spurred on by dreams of Latin food (more importantly, non-”Bavarian” food) at South, I jogged the last miles – changing my gait really does make my legs feel fresher, even after a long day like this. I finally reached the trailhead, downed half a Vitamin Water in one gulp, and reveled in the fact that I actually felt pretty good. Sweaty and dirty, but good.
Two days later, my calves told a different story…but never mind that.
- Enchantments & Little Annapurna | 20 miles | 6000 feet gain (8000 feet loss) -
Big thanks to my Hike-a-Thon sponsors, Michelle…