The Enchantments Thru-Hike | Round 1
Distance: 20 miles thru
Fees: Northwest Forest Pass or National Parks Pass
View my Gaia GPS track here
The Pacific Northwest is filled with beautiful gems but there’s something so special about the Enchantments when the Core Enchantments turn golden for a couple weeks with the autumn larches.
On Sunday, we started at the Lake Stuart Trailhead around 8am for our 20-mile trek. The first bit of the hike to Colchuck Lake felt like stepping gradually into a winter wonderland. It had snowed the day prior and there was fresh powder gently resting on the trees.
The section up to Colchuck Lake has a small bit of elevation gain. Arriving at Colchuck Lake gave me that same feeling of awe as when I saw it for the first time during my backpacking trip in June. There’s something so peaceful about that still lake reflecting Dragontail Peak and Aasgard Pass in its blue waters, as if getting us ready for the most difficult section of the route we would need to conquer.
We spotted our first spattering of golden larches up on Aasgard Pass. I was able to get up a good section of the way up with just my boots but ended up putting my microspikes on about halfway through. It was both a mentally and physically challenging section to get up, but the view from the top was nothing short of spectacular. We took our lunch break at the top of Aasgard Pass and I finally allowed the wave of calm wash over me as I savored the view and listened to the mellifluous chatter of my hiking buddies.
After lunch, we took our time lollygagging through the Core Zone. As difficult as it was to one-up everything we had seen up to this point, the Core Zone really took the cake. It felt like the whole scenery had been dipped in gold, with the luster of it perfectly complimented by the fresh white powdery snow that acted as the perfect canvas. We took our time through this section, reveling in the crisp smell of the cool air and the vibrancy of the trees.
It was so difficult to leave the Core Enchantments and move on to the Snow Zone. The sun had begun to slip away and we could feel what little warmth there was move past. While the Snow Zone was beautiful in its own right, the daylight had left us and it became difficult to see and relish all the sights. It was getting late and the last 7 miles started to feel like a slog. There were several granite boulder fields we scrambled over and the trail got a little confusing but we were always pointed in the right direction by helpful cairns. At this point, we were tired but determined to make it back to the car as quickly as possible, one food in front of the other - but not too much in a hurry to pass up some promising night photography!
We finally made it to the Snow Lakes Trailhead by 10:45pm - making it about a 14-hour day.