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
Hiked here recently? Submit a trip report!
There are 147 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Enchantment Lakes, Colchuck Lake, Snow Lakes — Oct 09, 2009 — LEG PWR
Issues: Snow on trail
Expand report text Hide report textRead full report with photos
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".
Enchantment Lakes — Aug 31, 2009 — aussiegirl
Expand report text Hide report textRead full report with photos
Our group of four (3 Australian born Seattleites and 1 Australian born Londoner) had been looking fo...
Our group of four (3 Australian born Seattleites and 1 Australian born Londoner) had been looking forward to this trip since we were lucky enough to get passes in the lottery earlier this year (thank you Leavenworth Ranger for drawing out our application!). The best hiking in Washington state we’d be told. We weren’t disappointed!
We headed out from the Snow Lake trailhead (having earlier shuttled a second car to the Stuart/Colchuck Lake trailhead) at about 9:30am on day one. We were thinking of camping at Snow Lake on the first night, and heading to the core enchantment zone the next morning, and so we took things pretty easy – a few rest/snack breaks along the way and a leisurely lunch at Nada Lake. The Snow Lake trail gets immediately down to business, switchbacking up a steep (but not Aasgard Pass steep) slope which at times is exposed and, on the day we climbed it, HOT! (Not complaining, as HOT is brilliant compared to wet and cold! Thank you Leavenworth Ranger station, for choosing such great dates weatherwise!)
While “unremarkable” seems too harsh a word, the 6.5 mile trail to Snow Lakes is a formative affair – a means to approach something spectacular really! Highlights were the climb up after Nada Lake which is quite scenic and gives great views back down over the lake, and there is an interesting “waterfall” (more like a spout - see picture) that kept us entertained there for some time. The campsites at Upper Snow Lake are quite good, although by the time we arrived around 5:30 (told you we took our time!) most were taken. All of us went for a quick dip in a stream running into the lake, filtered some water, rigged up some ropes to hand food, cooked up some dinner and turned ourselves in for the night.
Day 2 dawned warm and sunny, with us once again thanking the Ranger for choosing such great weather dates for our trip. We ate, packed up our camp and hit the trail at 9:20am. The trail immediately begins climbing, alternating between tree cover and open boulder sections. The trail is marked by cairns – thank goodness as some of the exposed boulder sections would otherwise be very difficult to find! After an hour of solid upwards climbing, we reached the Enchantment Lakes sign, and a welcome party of goats. Lake Viviane looked great in the morning sun and we stopped for a bite to eat. Continuing on, there is a “toilet” to the left of the trail as you round Viviane’s side. It’s quite a walk from the trail, but the views back to Snow Lake are fantastic – a real “loo with a view”!
We had planned to camp that night somewhere in the vicinity of Perfection or Inspiration Lake. A group of hikers heading in the opposite direction recommended their previous night’s campsite to us – at the south end of Inspiration Lake just before the climb up to the upper Enchantments, and overlooking Perfection Lake. We decided we would try that out, and spent a few hours wandering along the trail taking pictures and remarking on the scenery before arriving there. The trail in the enchantments zone is easy to follow, again thanks to cairns on the boulders where required.
We set up our tents and had a late lunch before deciding to backtrack a little to head up Prusik Pass for the afternoon. Clouds began to appear on the horizon but didn’t look threatening so we headed out from our camp. Just as we were walking down to Perfection Lake’s edge, the rains started – we had been expecting afternoon rain or storms as seems to be the norm for these mountains, but the hail that rained on us was certainly not expected and kept us quite amused for the duration of the storm (only around 20 minutes). We had donned rain gear and taken shelter in a small clump of trees at the lake’s edge when the rain started, preferring the wisdom of staying put in a storm rather than climbing to higher grounds! Once we were sure the storm was over, we set out again up to the pass, and then turned right at the top to scramble up closer to Prusik Peak. A scramble route easily found, and we spent quite some time at a rocky plateau taking photos of Prusik and the lower enchantment lakes that could be seen from that vantage. Returning to camp, we had dinner and filtered water for the next day, and enjoyed a fantastic sunset and moon rise over Perfection Lake. What a place to camp!!
Day 3 we headed out right on 9:20 again, bound for the upper enchantments. The trail (marked by cairns) climbs up and through a pass at the south end of Inspiration Lake that would be slippery and require some careful footing when wet (particularly if headed in the opposite direction and therefore walking this section downwards). We wandered through the upper basin, following cairns, taking photos and commenting on how moon-like the scenery is. We had planned to scramble up Little Annapurna and a group of hikers we met that had camped in the upper zone the previous night indicated that there is a “trail” marked by cairns up to the top of Little Annapurna. We consulted our map and compared it against what we saw and, not having found the start of the trail, headed up what we thought was the safest option, avoiding the areas still snow covered and climbing in the least sloped sections. We had left two of the four backpacks and some of the heavier items from the remaining packs under a rock in what looked like a pretty good hiding spot. While I carried a pack up the scramble, I was grateful for the lighter load!! At one point on the scramble up we stumbled across some cairns and followed them for a time, but lost them perhaps a third of the way from the top. We continued upward choosing what looked like the safest option whenever there was a choice, and ended up approaching the north eastern side.
What a view! It was clear enough to see Glacier and Mt Baker to the north and Rainier to the south west. The view of the Enchantment Lakes basin was spectacular. We took some time at the top to take in the view and take some photos, then started heading back down. We picked up the trail marked by cairns from the top and followed this most of the way down – cairns are always much easier to see when descending aren’t they! We repacked our gear and headed on, planning to stop for lunch at one of the lakes we had seen from Little Annapurna.
As it turns out, our lunch spot was “the highest lake in Washington state”, according to a fellow (solo) hiker who leapfrogged us that day and whom we had seen at the top of Little Annapurna. I’d be interested to see if this was true? The lake is at 7,700 feet and isn’t named on the topo map we have – is it the highest in the state?
Armed with that alleged knowledge however, we determined that it was a must for a swim – how many people can say they’ve swum in the highest lake in Washington after all! I quickly volunteered to be the photographer of such an auspicious event while the other 3 took off some layers of clothes in preparation for the event. (It was a hot day, we were only in shorts and shirts!) Sufficiently chilled, we packed up again and set out to tackle the long walk down to Colchuck from Aasgard Pass. What a descent! It took us 2 plus hours (shudder to think how long it takes going up it, but I’m from the school that would prefer climbing up to heading down any day so the descent was particularly brutal in my opinion). We found a campsite quite late (6:30pm maybe) by the side of Colchuck, opposite the little lake to the west. All of us went for another swim (why not we say), set up tents and had a great last night out dinner. We were entertained during the night by a fascinating storm, with lightning and thunder rivaling anything any of us had seen before. (Keep in mind we grew up in a tropical climate where fierce storms are a daily occurrence in summer. While the rain at the Colchuck storm didn’t rival an Australian summer storm – not hard enough and the drops not fat enough – the brightness of the lightning and echoes of the thunder around the mountains were the best show of their kind we’d all ever seen and heard!)
We woke to a wet camp on day 4. We had planned to spend the morning sitting in the sun and swimming, but the weather was average (a fact we had no trouble accepting – with such great weather for the first three days we were more than grateful of the conditions we’d managed to do the bulk of the hike in. Instead, we ate breakfast and packed up in between rain showers and headed back out to the trailhead, finishing at around 2pm. What an amazing area to spend a few days in!
Enchantment Lakes — Aug 30, 2009 — Mountain Lover
Expand report text Hide report textRead full report
I'm proud to say I've done Aasgard Pass and even prouder to say, I have no desire to ever do it agai...
I'm proud to say I've done Aasgard Pass and even prouder to say, I have no desire to ever do it again. Though, I hear that the Snow Lake way to reach the Enchantments can be as grueling, just in a different way (distance).
We camped at Colchuck Lake, enjoying a long leasurely afternoon as we were there about 12:30. Getting ready mentally for the next day up Aasgard. On the trail the second day by 6:30am, taking nearly another hour to make our way to the other side of the lake, after crossing the large boulder field that lies at the bottom of Colchuck Peak and taking lots of pictures. Up the boulders/rocks of the gulley that is the trail to Aasgard Pass. Took us 3 hours to go up that insanely steep 3/4 of a mile. Goal was to get up before the sun was beating down on us. We made it just in time.
Once up and over, we had great views everywhere. It was a clear day and the high clouds didn't start forming until mid afternoon (giving us shade on the way back down Aasgard). We spent about 3 1/2 hours in the Upper/Middle Enchantments before heading back down. The larches aren't turning yet, but we saw a lot of fall foliage colors in the underbrush along the way. No bugs to speak of.
Enchantments are beautiful. If you've been there, you know. If you haven't, go -- you'll want to see this. I can't speak for the route in via Snow Lake. As for the Aasgard way, wow and ouch!
Enchantment Lakes — Jul 30, 2009 — wolfwoman
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Expand report text Hide report textRead full report
This trip was conceived during a ski trip to the Methow last winter when Ace volunteered to get pass...
This trip was conceived during a ski trip to the Methow last winter when Ace volunteered to get passes to the Enchantments. Our party included Yoyo, Blissman, Cisco Kid, Cascade Dreams, Ace and Dale -- a fantastic group! Our first day involved the grunt up and over Aasgard Pass via Colchuck Lake. We were fortunate to have some clouds and a slight breeze to save us from the heat. The trail is getting more defined all the time, although eroded in places. We saw several parties on the way up. We were greeted at the pass by a lone Billy Goat. Several of his buddies soon joined us. We spent the first night at Lake Brynhild. There were several parties camped in the Upper Enchantments. More than I had seen on previous visits. That night we were entertained by 10 - 12 goats with three kids. We watched with awe and envy as they did some major slab work with ease. We then saw an interplay between two kids that was pretty amazing. They were perched on a step slab pushing each other around and around in what looked to be a game of "push the goat off the rock"! We couldn't get enough. A fabulous sunset and to bed. Yoyo awoke to lightening that night which was to visit us every night of the trip. Day two was a day of leisurely exploring and a walk to Little Anapurna for Ace and myself, while the rest looked to scramble East Dragontail. We met back in camp by 4:00 PM and moved down to Talisman Lake. We were the first of only two parties to camp here. The bugs were many, but tolerable at the upper basin, but they were awful at the lower lakes. Mosquitos galore! After a quick dinner, we escaped to the safety of our tents while the mosquitos waited outside. That night we had some thunder, lightening, and a short, but intense rain. Day three involved a scramble of Cannon. I'd done this on an earlier trip, but wanted to do it again. I especially love Druid Plateau. The scramble is very straightforward. Up to Prusik Pass where you can pick up a cairned path which you can follow to a small gully and stream about 1/4 mile from the pass. You then contour up and around the left side of a slabby hill until you reach a rather large tarn with lots of larch. Go to the far end and up a shallow, lush and flowery gully until you are at the base of a granite wall with some steep rocky gullys. Pick your poison and follow it up to the top of the wall. You will emerge onto the wonderful Druid Plateau. Spend lots of time here and look down into the valleys and over to the rock basins and cliffs that border the plateau. There really could be Druids here. The summit of Cannon is obvious from here, but the easier route is the north side as it's a bit gentler here. The scramble to the summit is over extremely large boulders covered with lichen. It requires some large steps and a bit of nerve, but it's worth it. We began hearing thunder and seeing lightening on the summit so we didn't linger there. However, we just couldn't leave the plateau so we spent enough time for the storm to pass by us. The Druids were with us today! The plan for day three was to spend the morning exploring the area and then moving down to Snow Lakes in the early afternoon. Yoyo and Cisco scrambled McClellan while Ace, Blissman and myself spent the morning exploring Crystal Lake and taking photos. We then went to Snow Lakes for our last night. The trail down is rough, but interesting and we found ourselves at Snow Lake in no time. We snagged a great camp with a nice beach and a rock peninsula that juts out into the lake. The mosquitos were terrible in the woods, but virtually gone on our rock so we finally got to relax without being attacked by the vicious beasties! We spent much time swimming and loafing until our nightly thunderstorm and lightening which was quite close this time. It was fun to watch, but the rain caused us to flee to our tents again. Day five was the hot, hot, hot hike out to the trailhead. It was really hot. Extremely hot. Stifling hot. I could almost see the waves of heat radiating off of the rocks. The bridge over Snow Creek made a nice waiting place while waiting for Yoyo to shuttle the other drivers to the Colchuck trailhead. A fine meal was had by our hungry scramblers at Ducks and Drakes in Leavenworth. Followed by various stops for chocolate, ice cream, and Coca Cola!
Snow Lake, Enchantment Lakes — Jul 23, 2009 — Rebecca Lavigne
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Ripe berries
Issues: Snow on trail | Bugs
Expand report text Hide report textRead full report with photos
Took an unforgettable, 3-night trip to the Enchantments. See my blog post at: www.wta.org/trail-news...
Took an unforgettable, 3-night trip to the Enchantments. See my blog post at: www.wta.org/trail-news/signpost/enchanted-indeed
The Mosquitoes were atrocious (the ranger said they were quite a bit worse this year)-- wish I had brought a head net. A few very small snow fields to cross on the trail through the upper Enchantments, maybe 2 in the lower basin. Trekking poles helped but no special equipment needed.
Helicopters were buzzing overhead on our hike in to Snow Lake, ferrying out people and equipment (except for a roll of TP from a portable toilet that blanketed a tree about 50 feet from the ground) from construction of the Nada Lake Dam. They'll be back at work in Sept. on the Snow Lake Dam.