Hiking the Enchantments 2012

The sudden opportunity came up for me to hike once more to the Enchantments Alpine Lake Wilderness area with a friend that had a permit. (previous times second & third)

Wildfires had been burning in Eastern Washington for some weeks. The Colchuck Lake entrance to the Enchantments had even been closed down because of the fire and smoke. This was our view as we started up the trail so we were worried - until we realized the wind was blowing the smoke away from us.

smoke blowing up valley

Our trail.

wooden trail marker on tree

First we passed Nada Lake. I think it is inappropriately named because it is quite beautiful. It is also in the water supply flow to the Leavenworth fish hatchery.

Rex on trail above Nada Lake

Nada is fed from the Snow Lakes, but these days by an unnatural method. They tunneled into the mountain and made a bathtub drain in the bottom of the Upper Snow Lake. This feeds a nozzle that shoots into Nada. The roar could be heard for a mile and shoots hundreds of feet down the hill!

Larry looking at nozzle outlet building

We camped at the far side of the Upper Snow Lake.

group of guys standing together

And fisherman Rex had a blast catching and releasing. The fish were so hungry and plentiful that he got bored and quit after catching nearly 30 fish.

Rex with small fish on line

The sunset was smoky. Water from the Enchantment lakes above comes into Snow at this end.

looking up to the Enchantments hill through smoky air

Next morning we climbed the wall to Viviane.

guys climbing above on trail

Vivane is in a dramatic bowl with distinctive Prusik Peak above. More good fishing.

fisherman at lake with Prusik Peak wall beyond

The water was very transparent. It might have been 20 ft deep at the top of the picture.

looking into lake water with hiker shaddow

We were fortunate to be there (again!) when the Larch were blooming. Looking across Perfection Lake to Little Annapurna.

larch needles, lake and mountain

The Larches out in the open are stressed by winter snows and gain a gnomish appearance.

twisted larches in a rocky field

After we set up camp, a few of us scrambled up to the base of Prusik Peak (just to the right of that rounded knoll on its left).

Prusik reflected in a local tarn

And climbed up a bit.

climbers up by the base of a peak above them

Good views of the lakes area, but smoky.

view toward Little Annapurna, lakes with hiker in foreground

We found an old path and came back through this protected valley. It was lush, and the trees were mostly straight.

trees and a path down

However, right by camp was this tree. It is a fascinating combination of new and old. Living wood has corkscrewed around the dead on the branches!

knarled twisted tree by camp

Next morning's view from camp of our first destination - Little Annapurna.

morning red smoky sunlight on mountain

Beauty is everywere as you walk in this place.

larches reflecting in a lake, trail alongside

Pictures cannot bring the impact of being there and experiencing it, but each time we take many pictures and we try.

hikers along rocky trail by lakes and trees

Everything is also very vertical. Everywhere is lifted granite beams, and big drop-offs.

Larry standing on a square rocky point with mountain peaks in distance

Annapurna is one of my favorite places. How did these stones get stacked so neatly at the edge of this high desert meadow?

guys standing on arranged stacked rocks by meadow

The smoke was bad though; this day was the worst. Only Rainier stayed above the haze all day.

horizon of smoke with Rainier above in distance

Several more miles of hiking brought us to Dragontail Peak. I'm on top at 8800 ft.

Larry sitting on rocky point

I walked down the ridge for a look back at the other guys.

looking across ridge to other hikers

I was standing right beside the edge. See that spiky obelisk? I'm the black dot below and to it's right.

Larry at other end of ridge

Colchuck Lake - which is more than a mile below us - is hardly visible. It is usually a blue jewel.

looking down on Colchuck but barely visible through smoke

The wide view.

panorama from Dragontail

We crossed a snow field and stocked up on water. Wonderfully cold!

filter runoff water

Sunset over Perfection Lake and Prusik Peak in the background, back by camp.

lake in shaddow and peak in sunshine

That night, the moon was nearly full. We sat on a rock, watched Inspiration Lake, and listened to the quiet waterfall on its far side.

Next morning, mountain goats visited us again.

goat backlit by sunlight

They are looking for salt from our urine, licking the rocks. Everybody gets along if we don't get too close.

guys standing by rocks watching goats

My beard had gone funny over the nights: a ski-ramp on each side!

Larry and messy beard

As we left camp, we discovered that our food protection efforts hadn't been perfect.

rodent eating a stolen nut bar

We took our time leaving, absorbing the views.

trail through green and gold larches

Annapurna across Perfection.

view across lake with small island and peak beyond

Prusik across Leprechaun.

view across lake with trees and mountain ridge beyond

We climbed a ridge and found a fantastic view. Yesterday we hiked to Annapurna (left), then to Dragontail Peak just above the rightmost far snow field.

view of major mountains of area

The wide shot showing the lakes, and the valley out on the right.

lakes and peaks of area

We camped at Nada and met up with some friends. Dave fly fished barefoot.

fisherman wading in lake

I read a book and watched the sunset on the peaks.

book in lap with peaks in distance

The next day we celebrated lunch together in Leavenworth.

sitting around outside restaurant table in sunshine

It was a very good trip!