The Enchantment Lakes is a high alpine basin full of lakes, larch, mountain goats, and fantastically stark granite that is considered by many to be the best hike in the state. Options abound - plenty of places to camp, side trails, summits, and more ensure that you will be wishing you had marked a few extra days on your backpacking permit!
The first thing you need to know about the Enchantments is that you will need a permit if you plan to camp overnight anywhere in the area (you do not need a permit for a day hike beyond the self-issue permit at the trailhead). Failure to have a permit will result in you being fined and asked to leave by the rangers. These permits are given out by lottery each year by the Leavenworth Ranger Station, and the success rate for Enchantment zone permits is around 50%. Check with the ranger station to see when the permit drawings start - if you want an Enchantment zone permit, you need to make sure you have your application in before the start of the drawings. If you like taking your chances, 25% of the permits are given out day-of in an on-site lottery at the Leavenworth Ranger station. Again, check with the ranger station for details.
Generally-speaking, there are two ways to approach this area. The traditional way is to approach from the Snow Lakes trailhead about 4 miles outside of Leavenworth on Icicle Creek road (trail 1553). From the trailhead, you have roughly 10 miles and 6000 feet of elevation gain before you reach the bottom of the Enchantments. This way in is often described as grueling and long, which is fairly apt. The other way that many people approach the basin is from the Stuart Lake trailhead another 9 or so miles beyond the Snow Lakes trailhead (trails 1599 and 1599.1). From this trailhead, you're looking at around 6 miles and about 4400 feet of gain to the top of the basin, but don't be fooled - 2300 of that 4400 feet is gained in a single mile up Aasgard Pass. This route is often described as a level above the Snow Creek route, but many people actually prefer this way in.
In planning your approach to the Enchantments, you need to make two key decisions. First, are you going to do a car shuttle? Many people take two cars, drop one off at one trailhead, and drive to the second trailhead. The hike then becomes a one-way. The second decision you need to make is which trailhead to start from (and finish at if you don't do a car shuttle). Which direction to go is largely dependent on the type of pain you want to endure. If you don't mind doing an insanely steep section in return for a shorter approach, choose Aasgard Pass via Colchuck Lake. If you don't mind a really long approach in return for a gentler gain, choose the Snow Creek approach.
Assuming a one-way (car shuttle) and starting from the Lake Stuart trailhead, park at the insanely busy trailhead and take trail 1599.1. This part of the trail passes through a nice stand of timber along Mountaineer Creek. About two miles in is a foot bridge that provides a great spot to take photos. At 2.5 miles, you'll reach a junction with trail 1599.1 to Colchuck Lake. Head left over the foot bridge and take an immediate right after the bridge to head towards the lake.
Follow the trail past the boulder field and enter the forest again. The way climbs steadily through the timber up to the lake basin, with nice views of the surrounding mountains and the drainage that holds Mountaineer Creek and Lake Stuart. After 1.6 miles, you'll reach the lake. Colchuck Lake is a great spot to camp for those backpacking. There is a great campsite across from the path to the toilet (about 1/4 mile from where you first see the lake), and a few more past that.
To reach Aasgard Pass, follow the trail around the lake for 1.1 miles. The way passes a small inlet as well as a small tarn to the right of the trail, works its way through a boggy area, and eventually deposits you at a rock slide at the base of Colchuck Peak. To continue, head left around the lake and through the boulder field. Cairns mark the way, but use caution as many of the boulders are exposed and falls will not be very pleasant. Midway through the boulder field is a patch of brush you must pass through (the trail is well-marked), followed by a smaller boulder field, and then another bit of brush, where you will quickly reach the base of Aasgard Pass.
From the bottom of Aasgard Pass, the route works its way up and to the left. Cairns mark the route, although in some places you may have difficulty spotting them. The route passes to the left of the rock formation you can see about halfway up, skirting the brush that will be on your left. Once you reach the rock formation, the route hugs the left wall and climbs ever further up. Clear of the formation, the way moves back towards center slightly and then up again, until you reach a waterfall, at which point the route passes underneath the falls. After refilling your water bottle and dunking your head under the falls, the route cuts side-hill to the right. Use caution in this section as the route is not well marked and there are few cairns. The way eventually works its way up and almost all the way to the right of the pass below Dragontail Peak, where you'll emerge into the upper Enchantment Basin. Routefinding in this section can be difficult at times; if you lose the cairns, just be sure to follow this general route description and you'll be fine.
Once in the upper basin, take a moment to rest and recharge, and be sure to turn around and look across Colchuck Lake to a view of Mt. Baker in the distance. When you're ready, head left around the tarn up a small ridge (cairns mark the way). The path will take you cruelly up a hundred or so feet and will eventually deposit you above Tranquil Lake. Tranquil Lake is a great spot to refill water, and there are excellent campsites on both the near and far end of the lake. Below you, Isolation Lake also has a few campsites nearby; some of the best overlook the lake next to the rocks at nearly the same elevation as Tranquil Lake.
From Tranquil Lake, descend along the left side of Isolation Lake and follow the cairns through the notch. The way then descends across a bit of slab granite and down to the lakes below. Snow is sometimes present in this section of the trail, so use caution. Once in this area, you'll be treated to a view of some of the well-known peaks in the basin - Prusik Peak, The Temple, McClellan Peak, and Little Annapurna are all visible. If you fancy a side-trip, the scramble up Little Annapurna is an excellent choice and can be done easily by following the bedrock on your right up to the summit. Stay left on the way up, but not too far left as it quickly turns into a cliff!
Moving down the basin, you'll encounter your first larch trees as well as views of Crystal Lake to your right and Inspiration Lake below to your left. From the overlook to Crystal Lake on the right side of the trail, the way goes left towards Inspiration Lake. There are a few spots on the descent to the lake that can be tricky, in particular when snow is present, so be careful. After reaching the lake basin, the main trail heads left around the small knoll, and will turn right down a small boulder field towards Perfection Lake. Inspiration Lake has several good campsites available in the basin, or you can continue to Perfection Lake below for other options.
After descending to the Perfection Lake basin, you'll encounter another trail junction, this time heading up to Prusik Pass. From this junction, you are approximately 10 miles from the Snow Creek trailhead. For the rest of the Enchantments, keep straight/right and head around Perfection Lake. About 1/4 mile past this junction you'll see the trail split; keep left to follow the main trail (the right fork dies in a few hundred feet but is a nice picnic spot). The trail goes for a few hundred feet, then turns left and will take you past Sprite Lake.
At Sprite Lake, continue your descent until you reach the slab granite. Cairns mark the way down this granite formation, and will lead you to the trail on the far side of the small basin. You'll pass Leprechaun Lake on your right. The trail crosses a creek and heads left across a small knob above Lake Viviane. This section of the trail offers classic views of Prusik Peak looming large above the lake.
As you follow the trail around the knob, you'll come to an exposed section of granite with a pretty steep drop off. The trail is marked by rebar steps hammered into the rock and roughly works itself right and then cuts back sharply to the left. Use extreme caution in this section, especially with heavy packs or in poor weather conditions. After descending the slabs, continue on the trail until you cross the creek and reach a few obvious campsites. This is the last of the Enchantment Lakes before your descent.
To descend, first make sure you've already crossed the creek and follow the path around the hill to the left. Pay careful attention to the cairns and rebar steps hammered into the rock. Again, use extreme caution with heavy packs and/or poor weather as several sections are very exposed. After about 1/4 mile, you'll arrive at a gulley with a cairn visible at the bottom. Don't go directly down the gulley; keep heading straight and up on the small hill in front of you you'll see the rest of the cairns. Follow the cairns down below the bottom of the gulley and you'll see the trail widen, which you can then follow all the way down to the bottom of the drainage. When you reach the bottom, you'll see a foot log that crosses the creek. Cross it to continue and turn left to head towards Upper Snow Lake.
The trail winds around Upper Snow Lake, passing many excellent campsites and several backcountry toilets. From the foot bridge, it's about 1.5 miles to the small dam that separates upper and lower Snow Lakes. Much of the time the dam is dry and exposed and you can simply walk across. However, if the water is high, the dam may be underwater, so exercise caution crossing especially if the downed trees are floating on the water!
From the dam, it is 6.5 miles to the Snow Creek trailhead. The trail ascends slightly and then turns to drop into the drainage below the lakes. Cross the boulder field and you'll arrive at Nada Lake in about 1.5 miles. Later in the summer and in the fall you'll see the water pouring out of Lower Snow Lake - this water flow is controlled by the folks at the salmon hatchery and is used to regulate the water level in Snow Creek. At Nada Lake, there are several good campsites, although in the summer Nada Lake is well known for being infested with bugs, so if you plan to camp there, bring bug spray.
The trail works its way left around Nada Lake and descends to the valley below. You'll pass through some beautiful timber and eventually reach a bridge over the creek. From here, follow the trail down through a series of switchbacks and work your way down the canyon. About two miles from the trailhead you'll see the Snow Creek Wall on your left, and if you're lucky, some climbers working its many routes.
From here, you're about 1.5 miles from the trailhead or so, and you should be able to see it soon, which is pretty agonizing as you are still at least 30 minutes away! The trail works its way to the far right and then switchbacks down the ridge until you reach the bottom by the creek. When you reach the bottom, you'll cross a small bridge over an irrigation canal. Continue straight for a few hundred feet to reach the big bridge over Icicle Creek. Cross the bridge, turn left, and ascend about 50 feet to reach the parking lot and the end of your awesome hike!
Many people prefer visiting the Enchantments in the fall, when the larch trees turn yellow and create a very unique scene in the basin. Getting a permit can be tough for this or many other times of the year, so there is also the option to day hike the basin. No permit (other than the self-issue permits at the trailhead) is required for the day hike, known as the Enchantment Traverse or the Death March, but the day hike is extremely long and grueling. Still, it's one of the easiest ways to ensure you see the larch turn.
If you go, you should be aware of several things. First, practice good Leave No Trace principles - this area is very beautiful but also very fragile, and we need to exercise extra special care here so everyone can enjoy it. In particular, please urinate on the rocks or in a backcountry toilet. Mountain goats crave salt, and will paw up vegetation to get at the salt in your urine. Second, be aware of your abilities and don't attempt this if you aren't a strong hiker/backpacker. Not only will you not enjoy yourself, you could put yourself in danger. Finally, don't forget to enjoy yourself! If you haven't been before, a backpack trip is strongly recommended so you have some time to stop and take it all in!
From Seattle, take US2 east towards Wenatchee. Upon reaching Leavenworth, turn right onto Icicle Creek Road. At about 4 miles, the Snow Creek Trailhead is on your left. For the Stuart Lake Trailhead, continue another 4 miles or so and turn left on road 7601 (about a mile past the Eightmile Campground). After the turn, stay straight (left is the Bridge Creek Campground) and follow the road to the trailhead. The first trailhead you will encounter is the Eightmile Trailhead; this is NOT the one you want. Keep going over the bridge and another mile or so to the end of the road and the Lake Stuart Trailhead.
Recent Trip Reports
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There are 146 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Enchantment Lakes — Jul 09, 2010 — millejoh
Issues: Snow on trail
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Hiked from snow lakes trailhead to upper snow lakes about 3pm. Incredibly hot at the beginning, it s...
Hiked from snow lakes trailhead to upper snow lakes about 3pm. Incredibly hot at the beginning, it soon cooled off as you entered the deep valley leading up to nada and snow lakes. Crossing the dam between snow lakes was cold but easy, and the night was calm and crowded around snow lakes.
Next day hiked up to lake Vivianne at 6500 ft where snow began to be continuous. There is a hairy crossing of the outlet of lake vivianne that takes crossing with caution on three narrow logs...still, not that bad.
The entire basin is snow covered and filled with goats-very cool. Route finding was not a problem as footprints make the trail very obvious. Probably passed three groups who had come over aasgard pass from colchuck, but none headed the other way, as I was going.
At the top of aasgard pass the ground falls away very steeply and it is necessary to make two very dangerous traverses of snow fields while descending. I say "dangerous" in trail runners and cheap poles, as I was, not with boots and ice axe.
Passed multiple parties ascending that were making the circuit, including climbing parties that made me pine for the mountaineers course I will take this winter. Also, beware- I watched two huge boulders crash down the avalanche chute on aasgard which all bikers cross at the bottom...mind the rockfall during the thaw.
Once at colchuck the trail became easier and I was down quickly. Not hard to hitchike back to snow lakes trailhead on a busy day. Also passed a search and rescue party looking for a hiker on mt cashmere...hopefully he's alright.
For my first time in the enchantment I was left thinking that my $10 permit would have been better served when the snow melts out so I could actually appreciate the still-frozen lakes and famous granite scenery. But for an adventure and a nice getaway from the city it was still fun.
Enchantment Lakes — Oct 16, 2009 — Seth
Features: Fall foliage
Issues: Water on trail | Snow on trail
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I had hiked the Enchantments before, and could not wait to get back. Our group originally wanted to...
I had hiked the Enchantments before, and could not wait to get back. Our group originally wanted to get the Enchantments loop in as soon as the permitting season ended, but since a few people bailed, we determined the remaining three of us would be able to hike the loop in a day. We packed one 40 liter bag with food and gear, and each had trekking poles. The ranger station was no help on being able to tell us trail conditions.
Coming in from Seattle and after sleeping in the back of our car Thursday night, we dropped the car off at the Snow Lakes trail head and hoped to catch a ride up to Stuart Lake trail head. After two guys named Chris and Dave offered to give us a ride up to Eightmile trailhead in the back of their truck (thanks guys), we only had 1 more mile to get to Stuart Lake trailhead. We left eightmile at 7:45am. The temp showed 42 degrees and there was a light layer of snow all the way up to Colchuck Lake. We started at Stuart Lake trailhead around 8am.
While hiking along the trail, the woods smelled like someone had baked apple pie or fall cookies. I guess that's why they call this area the Enchantments. Once we arrived at Colchuck Lake, the fall colors were in full effect, and the larches up on the mountainside were golden. It wasn't raining at all and we could see to the top of Aasgard Pass. The snow was a couple inches deep around the base of Colchuck Lake, and the loop around the lake was a lot more precarious than expected, especially along the boulder fields. There was a warm wind and the clouds above were moving quickly. Colchuck Lake was at a lower than normal level. Due to the snowy conditions on the trail, it took us much longer to get to the base of Aasgard than we had expected.
Going up Aasgard Pass wasn't so bad, trekking poles helped a little with stability. The upper half of Aasgard had a foot or so of snow. When we got to the top of Aasgard, visibility was good. We could see all the way to the lake below and the mountains off in the distance. The valley was still full of fog. The temp was 56 degrees, and it hadn't rained on us yet. It took about 2 hours to get to the top of Aasgard pass from the base, and we got to the top before 2pm. We had lunch at the top and experienced our first bit of light rain. On the Enchantments side, the visibility was not quite as clear.
In the Enchantments we experienced off and on light rain, and cloud cover with pretty good visibility. The larches were golden and it was very scenic since the whole area had a good dusting of snow. Along the trail, snow was moderate, the deepest parts coming to below our knees, but our hiking boots and gaiters sufficed for the most part. The hike was a combination of snow trekking and Rock walking. Snowshoes would probably be needed with another foot or two of snow.
After realizing that we'd need to book it to get to Snow Lake before dark, we picked up the pace. After leaving the Enchantments area, there wasn't really much snow on the trails. Just a light dusting on areas where there weren't rocks. We didn't encounter any ice. We finally saw some other hikers once we had reached upper Snow lake at about 6:30pm. The Snow Lake water level was quite low due to the repairs on the dam from earlier in the year (as noted from other trip reports).
The rain was off and on the whole way down, but we never experienced heavy rain. After dropping down the boulder field, it was too dark to see Nada lake. Car lights finally came in to view a couple hours later, and we made it to the car about about 10:20pm.
There was significantly more snow than we expected (would have been nice if the Ranger station knew a little bit more about conditions). So, our trek took quite a while longer than anticipated. But, we had a ton of fun and the weather and visibility held out for us.
Colchuck Lake, Enchantment Lakes, Snow Lakes — Oct 11, 2009 — mytho-man
Features: Fall foliage
Issues: Snow on trail
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I led my Alpine Larch Spectacular backpack for the Cascadians last week, 10/7 – 11, to the Enchan...
I led my Alpine Larch Spectacular backpack for the Cascadians last week, 10/7 – 11, to the Enchantments. I drove over Tue evening and stayed in Tumwater campground to be at the Leavenworth Ranger Station at 7:30 to try for a permit through the morning lottery. As I had a party of 4 including myself and there are only permits for 5 individuals given out, I could hardly believe my good luck when my name was drawn second after a solo hiker. The plan was to go to Colchuck Lake on Wed, up Aasgard Pass on Thurs, spend a couple of days up amongst the larches & lakes, and then descend Aasgard pass & return to the car on Sun, but just as a precaution I left my truck at the Snow Lake Trailhead. The forecast was for sunny, but cold weather the entire time.
We arrived at Colchuck Lake in mid-afternoon and set up camp on the north side of the lake with a good view of Colchuck, Dragontail, & Aasgard Pass. The lake was very low due to construction on the dam and we were able to easily explore the east side of the lake. That evening we were treated to a very colorful sunset.
The next morning it was up & over Aasgard Pass. Knowing that we had all day, we took our time. We left camp about 10, started the actual ascent about 11, and were on top about 2. The last 600’ or so of elevation gain were very icy with a couple of extremely treacherous spots. By the time we were on top I was having second thoughts about descending that way and was glad I had left my truck where I did. After lunch at the pass, we made our way through the upper & middle basins and down the chute to Talisman (Inspiration) Lake. This chute was also very icy and gave us a taste of what going down Aasgard might be like. We set up camp in a very nice spot at the NE corner of Talisman.
Much to our surprise, we woke the next morning to low clouds, which, after a few hours, did not show any sign of burning off. I was planning on taking a leisurely day hike though the lower Enchantments that day, but wanted sun, so we decided to go up to Prusik Pass instead with a thought of perhaps going down to Shield Lake where none of us had ever been. Once on the pass we found we had cell phone service & one of the party called his wife who got on the internet to check the weather on the NOAA site and informed us that the forecast was for mostly cloudy that day, but sunny on Sat & Sun. There was, however, an arctic air mass moving in & they were going to have near record lows in Yakima Sat night. The low for the Enchantments was going to be something like 16.
Given the weather for the day, we decided to go down to Shield Lake. We didn’t see the beginning of the easy route down the gully and instead followed a cairned route down a rib to the right of the gully. This was also very icy & treacherous and confirmed our decision from earlier in the day to go out via Snow Lakes on Sun. Once down in the larches, however, the walking was easy & beautiful. But after the exertion of the prior couple of days, this old man was pretty tired, so I just puttered around the south shore of Shield Lake while the others went on to Earle & Mesa Lakes. Then it was back over Prusik Pass and dinner under cold, gray skies.
Much to our surprise, we woke Sat morning to overcast, which, once again, did not show any sign of clearing. We decided to pack up and, if it did not clear up, we would take our camp down to Snow Lake in the late afternoon to shorten the hike out. If it did clear up, we would make camp lower down in the basin. Matt & Jay decided that they were going to climb Little Annapurna and Bob decided to slowly walk through the lower basin and perhaps head down mid-afternoon if it wasn’t clearing. I spent an hour or so around Talisman, then packed up and, about 11, headed down myself. By the time I got to Sprite Lake, patches of blue were beginning to show. I had lunch by Leprechaun Lake and by 1:30 or so it had become very nice. I was finally getting to see the Enchantments again in all their autumn glory. When Matt & Jay arrived we decided to stay & set up camp above Lake Viviane. Poor Bob was already down at Snow Lake. The rest of the day was spent photographing golden sunlit larches.
Sat night was supposed to be the cold night, and cold it was. When I looked at my thermometer at 7:15 Sun morning it read 10°. Matt & I spent an hour or so photographing in the morning light, then it was time to have breakfast, pack up, & head out. We were on the trail a little after 10 and down to the dam at Snow Lakes by noon. The hike out from here has a reputation of just being a long, boring walk, but I found it quite pleasant: easy walking, views from time to time, and nice fall color. We were out to the truck by 4.
Although there were plenty of other campers in the area, it never seemed crowded, except on Sat when all the thru-hikers went by. Then it was almost like a parade. I’ll bet there were almost 200 of them. The weather wasn’t quite what I hoped for or expected, but the larches, lakes, & granite slabs were beautiful nonetheless and this old man was able to get in there, perhaps for the last time.
Enchantment Lakes — Oct 10, 2009 — Chris Madden
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Did the Enchantments via Asgaard pass. The weather was cold at the start and stayed that way until l...
Did the Enchantments via Asgaard pass. The weather was cold at the start and stayed that way until late afternoon on the way out via Snow Creek. The larches are about at their peak but the weather this week will probably put an end to that.
There was a small bit of compacted snow on the top 500' of Asgaard that made the footing a bit treacherous. After the top it wasn't a problem. I was amazed at the number of people we saw heading up the pass. I have never seen it so crowded. I presume it was the lure of the larches.
Our plan had been to cross Prusik pass and exit via Toketies creek but all reports indicate this is a disaster after the '94 fires. Just as well as was quite dark by the time we reached the Toketie junction near the Snow Creek wall.
A group camped below Nada Lake had a pretty good fire going and I suggested that it seemed like a dumb idea. They said the sign prohibited fires above 5000' and they were below that (probably 4950')but it still seemed like a dumb idea to me.
The water level at Snow lake is down about 20'. I don't believe I have ever seen it this low in the 30+ years I have been going there.
A great way to spend a day and we loosened up with a hike up Carne on Sunday to get our fill of Larches.
Enchantment Lakes, Colchuck Lake, Snow Lakes — Oct 09, 2009 — LEG PWR
Issues: Snow on trail
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To accomplish an Enchantment Lakes through-hike, Duane and I left Seattle at 3:30 a.m., dropped off ...
To accomplish an Enchantment Lakes through-hike, Duane and I left Seattle at 3:30 a.m., dropped off a car at the Snow Lakes trailhead, and were on the trail at Mountaineer Creek by 6:30.
With sunrise at 7:12 and sunset at 6:27, we would have less than 12 hours of daylight. The NOAA forecasts made it clear that temperatures would be below freezing for most of our day. The NOAA forecast (given for 8236 feet) was a high of 28 degrees and a low of 14. Our plan included a summit of Little Annapurna at 8440'.
We used our headlamps for only 20 minutes or so. The day dawned with thin white clouds lifting and blue sky visible in the distance.
When we arrived at Colchuck Lake at 7:45, the clouds were still not totally lifted, but some blue sky was visible. There was small amount of snow around the lake, especially at the south end, making the shoreline particularly beautiful. Many of the larches still had a greenish cast to them, but some were already golden.
The ascent to Aasgard Pass was mostly snow-free at the bottom. The creek was partially frozen, and there were numerous puddles of solid ice. Some rocks had ice on them also, so it required a bit of caution. Patchy snow cover began while we were still below the rock buttress. About halfway up, the sun appeared over Aasgard Pass and illuminated the beautiful surroundings. But it lasted only a brief few seconds, and despite the forecast of "Sunny", we would not see it again.
The last 150 feet of vertical featured some picturesque frozen waterfalls above the trail and treacherous ice on the trail. The only way to negotiate the ice was to locate and step on rocks that did not have black ice on them. Even so, there was one narrow chute that offered no footing. I straddled the chute and used both hands to grip dry boulders above. Even a light dusting of snow over this section will hide the un-iced rocks that offer safe footing, making this an extremely dangerous area.
The ascent took us a full 2 hours. Atop Aasgard Pass, a frigid wind was blowing, as expected. But the cloud layer had settled in over the peaks, hiding the top of Dragontail for the rest of the day. As we walked through the upper basin, we debated whether to summit Little Annapurna. Clouds drifted in and out, sometimes obscuring its summit and even that of Prusik Peak. We decided to start up the peak while monitoring the weather. Because it was already 11:30, we knew that a summit attempt meant finishing our hike by headlamp. We continued up. At the top, we enjoyed excellent views of the Flagpole Needles. But views to the north and east, Brisingamen Lakelets and Snow Lakes, were muted by wispy clouds.
A hiker we encountered heading down from Aasgard Pass had warned us that there was only one other tricky section to negotiate: the chute descending to Inspiration Lake. By careful choice of rocks to step on, we were able to avoid slipping on the ice in that chute. Snow and ice would not be a problem from here on out.
At this point, we tried to pick up the pace, anxious to get down to at least Snow Lake before daylight waned. But the colorful larches were numerous around Perfection Lake. We kept stopping to take more pictures, and drink in the beauty. Together, we would take 375 photos before the day was over.
Upper Snow Lake was quite a spectacle. Because the dam at the outlet had been repaired in September, the lake had been drained to an unprecedented level. I was expecting to see a new dam, but it was the same old dam with fresh patches of concrete, and a new trash rack to hopefully prevent clogging.
We left the dam at 6:22, five minutes before official sunset. There was enough ambient light that we made it through the talus to Nada Lake and beyond before getting out our headlamps again.
The rest of the journey was just a slog. Even though the forecast was for a low of 22 degrees at 2000 feet of elevation, we were comfortable walking a fast pace. For the last two miles, we could see cars driving along Icicle Creek road. We couldn't tell for sure in the darkness, but it appeared that some of them were entering the Snow Lakes trailhead parking lot late at night.
At almost 9:00 p.m., with just a few hundred yards to go, we met a pair of guys hiking up the trail by headlamp. I noticed that their packs were small, but it didn't make sense until a couple minutes later when we met two more hikers, wheeling a rescue gurney. They had gotten a report of an injured climber at Snow Creek Wall, 2 miles in. Snow Creek is between the Wall and the trail, so if the injured climber saw us and shouted out, the sound of the creek must have drowned him out. We never heard or saw anything to alert us.
Update: The Wenatchee World reported on Saturday that the fallen climber was in stable condition after a "technical rescue that required ropes".