Sunday, October 2nd, 2022
Start: Snow Lakes Trailhead
End: Stuart Lake Trailhead
Elevation gain: 7149′
Elevation loss: 5135′
After a long drive yesterday evening, I arrived at the Bridge Creek Campground around 12am. The campground appeared to be full, but there was some flat space underneath pine trees nearby. I parked my car, and cowboy camped, just grateful for a flat sleeping spot. I was awake around 6:30am after a decent sleep, and headed over to Snow Lakes TH. The parking lot was full, but I got a spot on the side of the road where I was fully parked on dirt. I started around 7:15am, after filtering myself a liter of water at Icicle Creek and going back to the car for my forgotten hat.
The inital long climb up to Nada Lake along Snow Creek was relatively gentle, with well-graded trails, and I had the joy of spying a quick, quiet, and adorable martin! I also saw a brown pica, many varieties of chipmunk, and a few Cascade golden-mantled ground squirrels.
I passed by Lower and Upper Snow Lakes, and somewhere around there, I was mooned. There were two young white women backpackers who had decided to stop directly on trail, dropping their packs on a nearby rock, and change out of their long underwear while talking loudly. I came around a corner and they were standing with their backs to me, with one of them completely naked from the waist to the calves. I quickly looked away, kept walking, and tried to say ‘good morning’ loudly enough to be heard over their voices. As I passed by as quick as my legs would carry me, I surmised they had not heard my greetings, because they both shrieked loudly. I was frustrated by this exchange – it was 9-10am on a very busy trail with many campsites and pull-off spots along the trail where they could have easily gone to change with a modicum of privacy. They had no right to be surprised, as they were doing nothing to prevent other people being unwittingly exposed to their nakedness.
After this experience, I then began to encounter the more technical aspects of this trail, with a steep slab and rockfield climb up to Lake Viviane and Leprechaun Lake, paralleling Upper Snow Creek Falls for much of the exposed climb. That section had very little defined trail path and was mostly scrambling, looking for homemade cairns, and pulling up my GaiaGPS track. Then it was a smoother loop around Perfection Lake (cover photo) and Inspiration Lake (though I got off trail in a few confusing places), followed by the final climb up toward Aasgard Pass, with Lake Olrun and Sigrun, Isolation Lake, Lake Reginleif, and Tranquil Lake. The descent from Aasgard Pass down to and around Colchuck Lake was brutal – it was loose scree on top of sand down a very steep headwall but with enough large rocks and boulders to interupt any intentional sliding you might have been able to do. It was rough on my knees and ankles, and I was ready to not be wayfinding anymore.
Then it was slightly smoother trail as I circled the lake, and then it was more descent following Mountaineer Creek. I was able to turn up the pace in the last few miles, and arrived at the trailhead around 4pm. I was able to get a ride with the first people who arrived in the parking lot after me. They very kindly dropped me at my car 8 miles away on their way to exit the wilderness area into Leavenworth. All in all, a beautiful day with epic views!
One thought on “The Enchantments”