The Enchantments are series of alpine lakes near Leavenworth, WA. The beauty of the area draws many hikers. I returned with my friend Rex for a third visit.

2010_enchantments0 Rex and the rest of the group started at the trailhead at 7AM on a Sunday morning.

2010_enchantments1 I started much later at 3:30PM, so I hiked into the darkness with a headlamp. The trail was easy to follow, and I had all I needed with me, so I wasn't worried. However, I was surprised to meet two other groups hiking down in the dark. As soon as I got to camp, I turned in.

2010_enchantments2 Next morning was cold. In fact, it was cold on this hike any time you were not in sunshine.

2010_enchantments3 We had camped by the Snow Lakes. The trail in goes across the dam that separates them.

2010_enchantments4 However, the Upper Snow Lake had been drawn down to support the steady water needs of the Leavenworth fish hatchery - maybe 50 feet! We hiked along the left side of the lake and up the distant valley.

2010_enchantments5 Me, part-way up. With a Snow Lake visible between the trees.

2010_enchantments6 Some of our guys, at the first of the Enchantments, Lake Viviane.

2010_enchantments7 We continued on up to Inspiration Lake and set up camp. The rocks shielded us from some of the wind.

2010_enchantments8 We had fishermen in our group, and the fishing was good, so we ate fantastic fresh fish that night. In fact we had fresh fish for the next 2 nights as well.

2010_enchantments9 Next day, our goal was the top of Little Annapurna - so named for its similarity to a peak in the Himalayas. (It's the rounded one with the snow on it.)

2010_enchantments10 The way up was not a difficult climb, except that you are at 8000 feet and the air is thin. Near the top, the slope becomes quite gentle.

2010_enchantments11 At the very top are some fantastic rock formations that appear like as if a giant had stacked some flat rocks in rows to use later for flagstones.

2010_enchantments12 How did they get put here?

2010_enchantments13 Mt. Rainier to the south.

2010_enchantments14 I continued on down the other side of Little Annapurna

2010_enchantments15 to a lesser peak. However, it also had very unusual stacks of rocks on it.

2010_enchantments16 My friends continued farther on to Dragontail Peak. Notice that double peak group right in the middle?

2010_enchantments17 They made it on top. Some of the rocks there would move, so they had to be careful.

2010_enchantments18 I decided to spend my time exploring the lakes starting from the most upper ones. Isolation Lake is the big one.

2010_enchantments19 I climbed down and found the trail.

There are two entrances to the Enchantments. The back way from Colchuck Lake, you have to climb Aasgard Pass to this point. This is the way we came in on my last trip.

2010_enchantments20 As I started down, I encountered a mountain goat and her baby.

2010_enchantments21 Later I saw this little guy.

2010_enchantments22 Isolation Lake was sparkling in the sunshine.

2010_enchantments23 It flowed into Perfection Lake

2010_enchantments24 and a series of smaller, mostly unnamed lakes and ponds.

2010_enchantments25 Rock cairns indicate the trail. Since the trail is often across granite they are important markers.

At this height, the terrain is stark. The vegetation is very short in the valley because there is very little weather protection.

2010_enchantments26 However, if you get down on your knees you can see some interesting things,

2010_enchantments27 and tiny flowers.

2010_enchantments28 The next lake is Inspiration Lake, where we had camped.

At this level, the most glorious plant of all is the larch tree, a deciduous conifer. In the fall, it "blooms" a golden yellow,

2010_enchantments29 and then looses it's soft furry needles. A strong storm the previous week had carpeted the ground with gold.

2010_enchantments30 We met a hiker from San Diego who had come to photograph these trees.

2010_enchantments31 From here to just beyond the lower Enchantment Lakes, they frame everything. In the back is distinctive Prusik Peak.

2010_enchantments32 They contrast with the silver of weathered dead wood, and iridescent green of tree lichen.

2010_enchantments33 Some were still in color transition. Twisted dead snags made you realize just how hard it is to grow up here.

2010_enchantments34 After the night, we packed camp and moved to lower elevation to avoid a predicted snow storm.

Without a mirror, I didn't realize the extent of my "bed-beard"!

2010_enchantments35 Perfection Lake was below us. The outlet is at the left, where there is a small island.

2010_enchantments36 From the outlet, looking over the island is the classic view of Little Annapurna.

2010_enchantments37 The waterfall of this outlet is one of my favorite places. (Little Annapurna is still in the background.) I could have stayed here a long time.

2010_enchantments38 The waterfall (which you can just see on the right) had fed into Sprite Lake.

2010_enchantments39 Its outlet goes down a level

2010_enchantments40 into another spectacular waterfall

2010_enchantments41 to another bowl of smaller successive

2010_enchantments42 crystal clear ponds.

2010_enchantments43 And after a final drop,

2010_enchantments44 it arrives at Leprechaun Lake which has lots of little inlets.

2010_enchantments45 It then drops to the last Enchantment lake:

2010_enchantments46 Lake Viviane. Prusik Peak is above, looking different from the side.

2010_enchantments47 The water of Viviane may be calm at its outlet,

2010_enchantments48 but it immediately drops violently away.

2010_enchantments49 The trail is steep too.

2010_enchantments50 First comes the Snow Lakes.

2010_enchantments51 Then the two parts of Nada Lake. The far part is blue from reflection off the sky.

2010_enchantments52 The near one is green from tree reflections.

2010_enchantments53 We camped the last night here at the far end,

2010_enchantments54 and our fishermen went back to relaxing.

2010_enchantments55 The final trail was again a mix of rocks,

2010_enchantments56 and dirt track.

2010_enchantments57 At the end, we re-grouped in Leavenworth for a celebratory lunch.

The Enchantments may be a challenge, but they are valuable jewel that is worth it!