Picture a series of pristine alpine lakes nestled between mountain peaks and jagged ridges. There’s a small slice of wilderness in the central Cascades of Washington known as the Enchantments, and hiking-in is the only way to access this area of astounding natural beauty. My husband Rick recently spent 6-days backpacking through the area with 3 other hiking buddies on an adventure that began and ended at the Snow Lake trailhead near Leavenworth. Although I’m not a backpacker, I’m really excited to share some of his pictures and stories from this special place.
Why Did You Choose the Enchantments?
All the hiking forums praise the Enchantments! My cousin has been backpacking sections of the Pacific Crest Trail over the last 14 years, and I was fortunate to be able to join him on two previous occasions, both epic! After last year’s 80 mile PCT adventure through the Goat Rocks Wilderness, plus the bonus of hiking to the summit of Mount St. Helens, we decided to look for something a little different. Hiking in the Enchantments met all our criteria with its challenging terrain, spectacular scenery, and proximity to Seattle. Due to the increasing number of visitors, the Forest Service adopted a lottery permit system (between May 15th and October 31st); we were fortunate to get one for the Core Enchantments, which enabled us to set up camp in any of the 5 permit areas.
Give Readers an Overview of Your 6 Day Adventure
Our adventure began early Monday, with our departure from the Snow Lake trailhead (elevation approximately 1400 feet), around 9 a.m. We hiked about 6 miles to our first overnight camping spot at Nada Lake. Nada, like all the lakes in this wilderness area, was clear and cold! Day 2 was a pretty strenuous hike up to Leprechaun Lake, where we established base camp for the remaining 5 nights. As a group, we had decided that Leprechaun Lake was a good central spot enabling us to maximize our day hikes. After the steep elevation gains from days 1 & 2, the day hikes from base camp were easier, and ranged from 4-6 miles. Day 3, we hiked to Prusik Peak, where our clear day was overtaken by the smoke pouring into our valley from western forest fires. Day 4, after much route discussion, we summited Little Annapurna (approx. 8400 feet) for an amazing view of Mount Rainier and smoke plumes from several forest fires. Day 5 took most of the group to Dragontail Peak and the precipitous view down Aasgard Pass (approx. 7800 feet) onto Colchuck Lake. The last day was reserved for our long hike out (see below for why this day was so challenging).
Talk About the Most Challenging Day of Your Trip
Easy! Our last day we hiked out 12 1/2 miles with over a mile of elevation loss on a varied-terrain trail. Even though we had been hiking every day for the last five, hiking 12 miles downhill was pretty grueling on our legs and especially my 55 year old knees! Our choice to hike that far in one day was based on our earlier decision to spend as much time as we could in the more picturesque, higher lake region. I don’t regret having the opportunity to look down into Aasgard Pass, where the view of Colchuck Lake, and far-off Glacier Peak surrounded by nameless mountains was something I’ll always remember, and the long hike definitely made our last day’s pay-off of beers and a burger even better!