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Enchantments Tour, July 12-16, 2009
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Gordon Smith
(swearingen) - MLife

Locale: Portland, Oregon
Enchantments Tour, July 12-16, 2009 on 07/28/2009 05:59:06 MDT Print View

Sorry this one's a little late. This will be my first trip report here on BPL. Anyway, for those who don't know, the Enchantments are a stunning necklace of shimmering lakes nestled between jagged granite peaks in central Washington state. I first heard about the wonders of the Enchantments many years ago but it wasn’t until BCJ, a member of, posted an excellent trip report there back in 2006 that I got serious about planning a trip to the 'Chants. After doing a fair bit of research I decided I wanted to do the trip one-way using a car shuttle and starting from the Colchuck Lake side. I also wanted to spend a couple of nights in the Enchantments basin so I would first need to win one of the coveted permits for the core Enchantments zone. On my third attempt I finally got lucky and won the needed permit. That was back in March.

Joining me for this adventure were three of the finest back country travelers I’ve had the pleasure of hiking with: Paul (aka OneSpeed from, Dean (aka drm from same), and Claudio (lead organizer of the Portland Hiking Meetup Group).

We started our five day trek on Sunday, July 12. Claudio and I headed up the trail in the morning with Paul and Dean slated to head up later in the day. Arriving at Colchuck in the afternoon, we staked out a good camp and waited for Paul and Dean who joined us by early evening.

Conditions were pretty benign during the day but in the evening the weather thickened and the cloud deck lowered enough to hide the nearby summits…

Later, as the sky was getting dark, we watched with great interest as two people slowly picked their way down the rocky slope below Aasgard Pass, their headlamps blazing. Later still a thunderstorm rolled through that cracked and sparked and dumped a fair bit of rain on our tents, keeping us all awake for a while.

By morning the lightning storm had passed and though it was still cloudy we felt it was safe enough to proceed up to Aasgard Pass. Unfortunately it was at this time that Paul informed me he wasn’t feeling well enough to continue on the trip. He had been nursing a nasty cold for several days and it just wasn’t getting any better. And so it was with great regret that we had to bid our friend adieu and head on to the pass without him.

It took us about an hour to reach the base of Aasgard, negotiating the considerable boulder field along the way. By 10:30 we were taking a break at the bottom, discussing the task ahead...

Aasgard is an extremely steep, crumbly and scrambly affair, gaining 2300 feet of elevation in less than a mile.

We encountered a family of goats below the pass, the first of many…

Onward and upward…

Dragontail clinging to a blanket of clouds…

Looking back at Colchuck Lake…

Mist Pond…

Claudio crossing over the pass…

Once in the upper basin it was all gawkin’ and no talkin’…

Before too long we reached the lovely Brisingamen Lakelets…

We found a small island of trees here and decided to make camp. The clouds had slowly cleared out during the day but taking their place was a blustery north wind that just wouldn’t quit. We explored around a bit, had a very breezy dinner and crawled into bed early, our tents flapping like nylon flags. The wind blew hard most of the night but finally died down in the morning.

A new family of goats kept us entertained…

After breakfast we struck out for a day hike to Little Annapurna.

Looking back from the lower slopes of Annapurna toward Crystal and Perfection Lakes with The Temple in the background…

Claudio working his way up the hill…

Dean and Claudio on Little Annapurna's summit…

Das Boots…

Mt. Stuart…

The strange summit plateau with Edward Peak and The Temple in the background…

Claudio stalks a marmot…

Back down at the lakelets…

After Little Annapurna we packed up and moved on to the lower basin…

We met new goat friends along the way…

An iceberg on Inspiration Lake…

To avoid skeeters we camped high on the narrow strip of land that separates Inspiration and Perfection Lakes. Goats quickly found us there as well…

A touch of alpenglow that evening on Prusik Peak…

And on McClellan…

Wednesday morning we struck out for an intended day hike over Prusik Pass to the Druid Plateau. We passed Perfection Lake along the way…

And a portly marmot…

Unfortunately when we reached the pass we were stopped short by a large, steep snowfield on the north side. We weren't properly equipped for it so we scrambled around the rocks on the east side searching for an alternate route, but the terrain and the snowfield prevented us from continuing toward our destination.

Claudio scouting the area…

Dean surveys the Lost World Plateau…

For an alternate hike we decided to scramble down near the base of Prusik Peak and make our way to Viviane Lake where we could pick up the main trail and take it back to camp.

Prusik Peak in the mid-day sun…

And reflected in Gnome Tarn…

Claudio takes a photo of Temple Lake…

Above Viviane we stumbled upon an idyllic campsite that I believe was what the Stark’s called “The Guestroom”. I’m not certain this is it so I’d love it if someone can confirm…

The view nearby…

We cross an ify snow bridge on the main trail back to camp…

It was getting late, so we packed up quickly and headed down to Snow Lake for our final night.

Crossing some of the many granite slabs below Viviane…

Our final camp after a very long day of hiking and scrambling…

Upper Snow Lake in the morning…

Crossing the Snow Lakes dam…

Approaching Nada Lake…

A final look back through the burn above the Snow trailhead…

Truly an epic adventure in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Thanks again to Claudio and to Dean for being such great comrades and trekking companions, and to Paul for making a heck of an effort despite being under the weather. You guys were great.

Five amazing days and one fantastic trip!

More pictures here.


Edited by swearingen on 07/28/2009 06:27:13 MDT.

Curt Peterson
(curtpeterson) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Enchantments on 07/28/2009 07:00:04 MDT Print View

Great TR! I'm heading up there for 5 days in September and your pics only stoke the fire to get going!

What's your take on hammock-friendly sites? How far out of the upper basin do you think one would have to go to find trees sturdy enough?

Thanks for the excellent TR!

Gordon Smith
(swearingen) - MLife

Locale: Portland, Oregon
Re: Hammock friendly on 07/28/2009 08:01:32 MDT Print View

Hi Curt,
I don't recall many trees in the upper basin. I don't think you're in hammock country until you get to the Brasingamin Lakelets, which are at the edge of the upper basin right before you drop down to Inspiration Lake. The upper basin isn't very big so that isn't really very far from Aasgard. Great access to Little Annapurna from there. Hope that helps.

b s
(smyth) - F
Re: Enchantments Tour, July 12-16, 2009 on 07/28/2009 09:11:57 MDT Print View

Gordon. Great report and great photos. Thanks for sharing. Looks like some beautiful country up there.

Dicentra OPW
(dicentra) - F

Locale: PNW
LOVELY!!! on 07/28/2009 11:07:03 MDT Print View

Thank you for sharing. I so need to get back up there! :)

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE:Enchantments Tour on 07/28/2009 11:31:17 MDT Print View

Was up there doing similar things twice in the early 1980's, in the golden days before permits were needed. Now hope to take my college-aged kids up there next Aug. I hope it isn't too hard to get permits...

The Enchantments are one of the top hiking destinations in the world as far as I am concerned.

Great pictures, but maybe we shouldn't tell everyone about the Enchantments, because of the competition for permits.

So, on second-thought: The Enchantments are vastly overrated, don't bother going there, and don't apply for permits, ever! The rattlesnakes are horrible, bears fearless, wolves everywhere, man-eating marmots behind every rock, mutant mosquitos...avoid this place if you value your life and health!

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Enchantments Tour, July 12-16, 2009 on 07/28/2009 12:15:10 MDT Print View


Thank you for taking the time and effort to post up one of the best trip reports that I have seen here.

Love the great mix of writing and generous amount of stunning photos.

Man, what an adventure with a contrast of elements!

Just love shots of lakes with blue water and ice.

More places that I can go to in a life time, but trip reports like these lets me "travel" to them with you vicariously.

Thanks again for making my cube life at work a bit more enjoyable.


David W.
(Davidpcvsamoa) - MLife

Locale: East Bay, CA
Re: Re: Enchantments Tour, July 12-16, 2009 on 07/28/2009 19:18:11 MDT Print View

Incredible pictures and great commentary. I especially enjoyed the goats.

Ian Luschin
(iluschin) - F

Locale: Ohio/PA
Enchantments Tour, July 12-16, 2009 on 07/28/2009 19:29:06 MDT Print View

Awesome. What a great trip report. I've never heard of this place, but I definitely want to go ther one day.

Thanks very much for posting this report.

Gordon Smith
(swearingen) - MLife

Locale: Portland, Oregon
RE: Man Eaters on 07/28/2009 21:49:57 MDT Print View

Elliott wrote:
>>man-eating marmots behind every rock<<

LOL, that one's about right!

Thanks for all the nice comments on the report folks. It was a great trip, looking forward to getting back up there again sometime.


David T
(DaveT) - F
. on 07/29/2009 00:14:35 MDT Print View


Edited by DaveT on 05/17/2015 23:03:14 MDT.

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Enchantments Tour, July 12-16, 2009 on 07/29/2009 11:10:28 MDT Print View

Wow. Since I'm moving away from big mountains, I've been thinking about a trip for next summer back to the West Coast. The Enchantments just jumped to the top of the list. Reading up on the application process, sounds like I'll have to be pretty flexible.

Great pictures and narrative.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
!!!! on 07/29/2009 12:02:23 MDT Print View

Exemplary photography and report; thanks for putting in the time to share it. Makes me want to go swimming.

Randall Miller
(speyguy) - F

Locale: Cascadia
Enchantments on 08/01/2009 16:04:52 MDT Print View

Incredible photos. Big thumbs up!!

Andy Berner
(Berner9) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Stunning on 08/01/2009 18:56:11 MDT Print View

Great report. I wish I lived closer out west. Michigan is beautiful in areas but not on a scale like that.

Thanks for sharing

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Enchantments Tour--- on 08/01/2009 19:02:51 MDT Print View

Simply Awesome pictures and trip report....I really like the Goats!!!!

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Enchantments Tour, July 12-16, 2009 on 08/02/2009 20:32:14 MDT Print View

Nice, very nice photos!!

Steven Killion
(blendedfrog) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Enchantments Tour on 08/03/2009 01:16:51 MDT Print View

And the goats really like you too!Goats with laser eyes!

Gordon, I think this is the same marmot you saw on the trail up to Prusik Pass.marmot

Edited by blendedfrog on 08/03/2009 01:28:31 MDT.

Gordon Smith
(swearingen) - MLife

Locale: Portland, Oregon
Re: Marmot on 08/03/2009 16:11:22 MDT Print View

Nice photos Steve. Yeah, that marmot was HUGE! At first I thought it might be the ellusive "Marm-a-lope" but alas it had no antlers ;-)


Tim Shepard
( - F
Wow on 08/12/2010 22:59:53 MDT Print View

What a trip. Absolutely stunning. Thanks for sharing this secret treasure