Enchantment Lakes #1553
Aug 31, 2002
- Type of Outing
- Day hike
- Read More in our Hiking Guide
- Hike: Enchantment Lakes
- Region: Central Cascades -- Leavenworth Area
- Agency: Wenatchee National Forest, Wenatchee River Ranger District
- Trails: Enchantment Lakes (#1553)
- Avg Rating: 4.46
Packpup and I were eagerly anticipating our trip to the Enchantments after last years fire cancelled our outing. The Forest Service graciously rescheduled our permit and we were set for six days from 8/26/02 through 8/31/02.
We arrived in Leavenworth on 8/25/02, checked into the Icicle Inn, and were off to Uncle Uli’s for a most excellent lunch. As tourist for a day, we wandered the city and stopped in at the Village Pharmacy to see if they had a copy of “How Deep the High Journey” produced by Peg n’ Bill Stark, and knowledge of an Enchantment map also made by them. Well, the pharmacy called the Starks, and within 15 minutes we had walked to their home, were graciously welcomed, and spent just under an hour with the two Northwest legends. Bill gave us a copy of their “The Enchantment Lakes High County” map with all the Enchantment theme names including detailed information on the Lost World Plateau. His only request was that I use theme names in my trail report.
After a restful night and superb breakfast at the Icicle Inn, we departed from the Snow Lakes Trailhead at 8:30 AM and made good time to Nada Lake. However, our pace slowed some to Snow Lake as the effects of gaining over 4,000 feet in 6.5 miles began to tell. As we traversed the dam between Upper and Lower Snow Lake we were relieved to see that the water level was only down about three to four feet. We checked out campsites and found a good one just before Camp Disenchantment.
As dusk began to settle in we met Kenny and Thelma, a retired couple who had just come down from the Enchantments. They were pretty fatigued and asked if they could share our site. We gladly welcomed them and soon began to share stories. Kenny mentioned that this was his 12th trip to the Enchantments and Thelma’s 6th. Unfortunately, Kenny stated that at 77 years old this was probably his last trip to the Enchantments, and then described how it took Thelma and he two days to get up Aasgard Pass. The silver lining in their arduous assent was finding water and a spot just wide enough for their two sleeping bags that allowed them to spend a comfortable night with a spectacular view of the stars. That night Packpup and I wondered if we would be as tough and determined at 77 years old, or maintain the unlimited passion for the outdoors that Bill and Peg Stark have.
The next morning we said our goodbyes to Kenny and Thelma and headed up to the Enchantments. This was our third trip in six years but It still wasn’t any easier for me, but Packpup, having lost twenty pounds at Weight Watchers and mastered lightweight backpacking, smoked my butt up the trail. From Lake Viviane we followed cairns and checked out campsites by Pixie Pond, Leprechaun Lake, Magic Meadow, and Sprite Lakelet. Not finding anything to our satisfaction we crossed the outlet from Rune Lake, headed South past Grail Tarn, and found a site at Crystal Lake.
On 8/27/02 we chilled, soaked up views of Little Annapurna, and planned our next two days. Later that afternoon we circled the East end of Crystal lake and looked down at Nightmare Gorge and across to Navaho Pass and Navaho Mountain.
The following morning we got an early start and headed over Prusik Pass to the Lost World Plateau. The views down both sides of the pass are magnificent! Shortly after we began our decent to Shield Lake, we met a party of four that hiked into the plateau via Nada Creek and Musky Pass. They were camped in the plateau and on their way for a day hike to Dragontail East.
The scenery of the Lost Word Plateau is decidedly greener. As we approached Shield Lake and passed its’ West shore we noticed numerous tracks and evidence of a naturally reproducing lake with a significant fish population. From Shield Lake we continued North, crossed the stream on a logjam, and proceeded down the East bank of Lake Earle. Towards the end of Lake Earl we turned East and followed a faint trail up a narrow gorge to Musky Pass. At the end of the pass we climbed several hundred feet to the Southwest and were rewarded with a terrific view of Temple Canyon, Musky Lakelet, and the North face of the Temple. Using The High Priest as a pointer, we hiked to Nada Pass and completed our loop by scrambling West back to Prusik Pass. At the pass we met the previous party of four returning from an exceptional day in the Enchantments. That evening a mother mountain goat and her two, year old kids visited our camp.
On 8/30/02 we hiked to Little Annapurna via the route around the East end of Crystal Lake that ascends to Lake Kara. Just before Lake Kara we turned West and followed the smooth granite that ascends Southwest to the Snow Creek Glacier. Crossing the narrowest point we turned Southeast to the summit, and were cautiously observed by a mountain goat and her newborn kid. The scene at the summit is a jaw dropping panoramic 360-degree view! Enough said.
We descended Little Annapurna and hooked up with the main trail at the Brisingamen Lakelets. We started to Aasgard Pass, but at Lakes Brynhild and Sigrun the clouds that had been building all day long began to look very nasty. Having already experienced one wicked thunderstorm at high altitude, I took a final picture of Witches Tower and we headed back to Crystal Lake descending via Lake Talisman. The storm never broke and we spent our final night under perfect skies.
The last day is always anticlimactic as one tries to imprint closing views and memories intended to last a lifetime. The trip out was a difficult goodbye made easier by good weather and final recollection of a mountain goat browsing at Lake Viviane.
It has taken me a week to decompress before I could write this report. Three times last week I woke up sleep walking thinking I was still in the Enchantments. Fortunately I married a very understanding Packpup!