As luck would have it, a four-day jaunt into the North Cascades of Washington turned into a better trip than had planned. We stopped at the in Leavenworth ranger station at 7:30 a.m. and entered the daily drawing for a permit into The Enchantments.
This is a very tough permit to obtain. I did not win won in February, when the drawing was held. They also keep a few walk-in permits available, although they are almost always dispensed via lottery the day of the hike.
We overcame the odds, won the permit and spent four days in the Enchantments, without question the nicest hike in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and among the very best in the state.
Link to the permit website: http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/wenatchee/passes/enchantments/
Link to photos from the trip (view slideshow for best reults):
It also gave me a chance to try out some new gear: the ULA Catalyst Pack and a WM Versalite Super. Both performed as expected and the ULA Catalyst was especially impressive, being the first foray into lightweight (although at the upper edge of lightweight) backpacks. The Versalite was very warm, which I need, as I have real trouble sleeping while wearing anything beyond a base layer. The Squall tent held up well, except for a windstorm that kept us up most of the night in upper Enchantments (not much room for good cover).