Thursday, September 16, 2010


Last year on a kayaking trip in Washington, my boyfriend Drew and I discovered an intriguing trailhead leading to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. I put it on my wish list for another day. With summer coming to an end and my birthday around the corner, I decided it might be a good opportunity to do some research. I stumbled upon some stunning photos of the Enchanted Lakes Basin. I learned that camping is very restricted in this area because of the fragile ecosystem and concern for the mountain goat population. Without a permit from the annual lottery in February, the only option is to show up at the ranger station the morning you want to start hiking and get lucky enough to draw some slots from a cancellation or the 5 person/day lottery.

Drew said he would do whatever I wanted for my big day, so bright and early the morning of Sept. 10th we were standing outside of the Leavenworth Ranger Station with our name in the lottery. The ranger said, "Okay, who is feeling lucky today?" I said, " I am! I am!" and ran up to draw a name out of the pot. I had a little spaz attack when it read: Christie - party of 2!

Wahoo, three nights in the Enchanted Lakes Basin! Awesomness. We were ecstatic as we drove up Icicle Creek and 8-mile road to the Stuart Lake Trailhead. We had our gear packed in no time and headed up the trail to Colchuck Lake. We had 4 days to hike the 18 mile loop up to 7,800 ft. through the Enchantments and back down through the Snow Lakes zone. From here on, I'll let the pictures tell the story because it was so incredible I could barely put my camera down . . .

Drew gearing up at the trailhead

Welcome to paradise

Scouting some slides

Mountaineer Creek

Colchuck Lake

Lunch break, looking up at Aasgard Pass

2,000 ft. up the pass, Drew starts to wonder what he got himself into

The big climb

Whew, made it . . .

Just before dark

Drew hauled some surprise Strongbows up the pass for my birthday!

Home sweet home

The tentominium

No-bake birthday cake

Whoa, hello. Good morning!

Day #2

Camping on the pass was a little frosty

The bathroom

Upper Enchanted Lakes Basin

Gone fishin'

Heaven meets earth

Tranquil Lake

Just another day in paradise

Isolation Lake

We were stoked to run into this guy

Crystal Lake

Inspiration Lake

Lake Perfection

Prusik Peak

Lots of trout in this lake!

Drew cleaning a cutthroat for dinner

Camp #2

Day #3

Leprechaun Lake

Temple & Vivian Lakes

Another mountain goat!

Lower Enchanted Lakes Basin

Dropping down into the Snow Lakes zone


Snow Creek

Scouting more slides :)

Nearing icicle on day 4 we realize we never set shuttle. Taxi service?

A really nice lady we met a mile from the trailhead lends us her
brand new Armada to get back up to my truck. Priceless!

The Loop

All in all, this was one of my best trips EVER!

Christie's Top 10 Backpacking Trips:

1. Annapurna Base Camp, Nepal
2. Enchanted Lakes Basin, WA
3. Teton Crest Trail, WY
4. Wind River Range, WY
5. Druid Arch, Canyonlands, UT
6. Juan de Fuca Trail, Vancouver Island
7. Copeland Track, NZ
8. Routeburn Track, NZ
9. West Rim Trail, Zion National Park, UT
10. Abel Tasman, NZ

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